On 25 January 2010 the Washington Post published the article, ‘How Hugo Chavez’s revolution crumbled’ By Jackson Diehl, a writer for the Washington Post who specialises in international analysis. This article was published just before the terrible media storm unleashed by the case of the television channels [that were temporarily suspended]. A shame for the author because he might have had one more argument for his eager attempt to shoot down revolutions.
The first sentence of his analysis is blunt: “Hugo Chávez's "socialism for the 21st century" has been defeated and is on its way to collapse.”
In the face of a statement like that, one has no choice but to think that the analyst is going to reveal significant and undisputable information.
However, we’re already used to the commercial press and these types of analysts, and we quickly find what we had feared. The author discloses his political position with phrases such as this one:
“In Honduras, a seven-month crisis triggered by the attempt of a Chávez client to rupture the constitutional order quietly ended with a deal that will send him into exile even as a democratically elected moderate is sworn in as president.”
It doesn’t even deserve a comment.
He continues with the economic theme, something always fundamental for the commercial press. “The country reeled from recession, double-digit inflation and the possible collapse of the national power grid.” And he adds that, meanwhile, “a presidential election in Chile, the region's most successful economy, produced the first victory by a right-wing candidate”. It’s a typical comparison in Latin American of two models that have been at odds in recent years.
Checking over the statistics about the Chilean economy we can see that in 2009 they had a GDP drop of 1.9%, an unprecedented contraction since the crisis of 1982. The Chilean economy grew in 2008 by 3.2% while the Venezuelan economy grew by 4.8% in 2008.
So we don’t know exactly what successful economy the author is referring to. I imagine that what he is referring to is what is successful for the neoliberals, that is, for the rich and for the big international companies that can do and undo what they like with total “freedom” in Chile and without worrying about the injustice and misery that their model of development generates. The Bolivarian government reached, in the middle of a global crisis, the biggest drop in the inequality index in all of Latin America; the Gini index went down to 0.41.
And as always, the brainy analyst touches on the theme of human rights; “Piñera has now provided Washington an opportunity to raise its voice about Venezuelan human rights violations”.
And there we have the most qualified person to talk about human rights: Piñera, leader of the Chilean right, a right wing that has amongst its achievements in human rights, the 35,000 people who were victims of human rights violations; 28,000 tortured, 2,279 executed, and 1,248 remain disappeared.
The author insists on Honduras, and says that, “The outcome is a victory for the United States, which was virtually the only country that backed the democratic election that broke the impasse. Honduras is the end of Chávez's crusade to export his revolution to other countries.”
We can see that in the case of Honduras, human rights are not very important to the author. The fact that in Honduras there has been a coup d’etat, illegal raids, massive detentions, extrajudicial executions, and closure of media, isn’t important to the author, what’s important is ending “Chavez’s crusade”.
“Haiti only deepens Chávez's hole. As the world watches, the United States is directing a massive humanitarian operation, and Haitians are literally cheering the arrival of U.S. Marines.” Even the tragedy of an earthquake is a reason to support the argument that Chavez is on his way out. It’s difficult to follow the author’s logic, if he has any. Not coupes, nor disappearances, nor torture, nor assassinations, nor earthquakes, nor hunger, nor suffering, the only thing that seems important to this author is the crumbling of Chavez.
He returns to the economy: “Venezuelan economy is deep in recession and continues to sink even as the rest of Latin America recovers. Economists guess inflation could rise to 60 percent in the coming months.”
We don’t know which economists predicted an inflation of 60% and the sinking of the economy, we can imagine that they are the same economists who have spent the last 10 years announcing the fall of the Chavez government by economic collapse. However, in the last decade Venezuela has reached the highest economic figures in a long time, including the lowest inflation.
Referring to Haiti and Chavez’s comments on it, he adds that “his state television even claimed that the U.S. Navy caused the earthquake using a new secret weapon.”. He took this sentence from an opinion article published on the webpage of a public Venezuelan television channel. I suppose that, following the same logic, all the opinion published on public US television would be attributed to Obama.
And was expected from the beginning of the text, he had to cite a survey: “But Chavez's approval ratings are still sinking: They've dropped to below 50 percent in Venezuela and to 34 percent in the rest of the region.”
There are no references to what surveys say that. This 34% acceptance of Chavez in the rest of the region is interesting, taking into account the international media campaign. However, in Chile there’s no voting where the Chileans can elect the president of Venezuela. The important elections are the national ones, and just a few weeks ago the most serious polling agencies have found that Chavez has a high level of popularity, enough to comfortably win the presidential elections again.
Either way, the Venezuelan people have the last say, despite how the analyst of the Washington Post doesn’t believe in them much, and until now, Chavez has easily won all the elections in which he has been a candidate.
The article ends with a brilliant statement: “But the turning point in the battle between authoritarian populism and liberal democracy in Latin America has passed -- and Chávez has lost.” Without arguments…and without comments.
Translated by Tamara Pearson for Venezuelanalysis.com