The New York Times did a "story" today on my reaction to Michael Moore's fairy tale about meeting with President Chávez in Venice this past September. The article, written by Simon Romero, was published in both the print and online editions of one of the world's most important newspapers. I wrote my "reaction" to Moore's ridiculous made up cover story about Chávez one week ago, and since then, really nobody is talking about this anymore. No one from the government reacted and yes, the opposition media had fun with the whole thing, but really, what makes this a New York Times worthy issue?? I mean really, of all the things to write about, Simon, come on! Of course the NYT is not covering the millionth patient attended to as part of Misión Milagro (Miracle Mission), the social program created by Cuba & Venezuela to provide free surgeries to those suffering from eye diseases and problems. Nor did the NYT cover last week's inauguration of the brand new modern and highly advanced geneology research center and diagnostic treatment clinic- providing 100% free care to everyone. Considering the US is ongoing a huge debate about health care services, you would think these stories would be inspirational and much more newsworthy than me & Michael Moore and a bunch of ridiculous lies - or jokes, whatever you want to call them.
But no, the NYT found the battle of the left much more exciting than major healthcare advances, and uniform coverage, for all Venezuelans, even at the most advanced treatment levels. And so, Moore responded, finally, (and again, cowardly) with a bunch of twits or tweets or whatever, at least admitting that President Chávez "doesn't drink", but still, calling me out for having lost my sense of humor.
So, after receiving too many messages to count from many readers and observers telling me I have no sense of humor and to leave Moore alone, he was just joking and anyway, is already so attacked by the right-wingers, poor guy. But still, I hold strong to my original opinion about his "joke", which personally I found misplaced, inappropriate and in very bad taste. It's easy to make fun of a Latin American president who is already the most demonized in US media and ridiculed internationally. It's much easier to make jokes about Chávez than tell the truth. Because almost nobody is willing to step out and risk being associated with a controversial figure like President Hugo Chávez, whether or not you secretly adore him, or like what is happening in Venezuela. Those who do are constantly attacked and threatened and harassed. Yeah, Moore is too, but this time around, he decided it wasn't "convenient" to be seen with Chávez.
All I'm saying is, if you have 5 minutes on national television in the US to talk about Venezuela or President Chávez, and you care or believe in the incredible changes and movements taking place in Venezuela and throughout Latin America, and you're talking about one of the world's most demonized and threatened leaders, at least say something - one thing - redeeming. One positive thing. One. But to use the gift of 5 minutes before millions of viewers who know little or nothing - or care little or nothing - about Venezuela and Chávez to make jokes and ridicule an already overly-ridiculed leader, it just doesn't do it for me.
We have had a coup d'etat in Venezuela, funded and designed by the Department of State and the CIA, numerous economic sabotages causing billions of dollars in damages to the economy, we have an ongoing, severe media war, paramilitary infiltration causing death and violence throughout the country - coming from neighboring Colombia where the US not only has invested almost $10 billion during the past 10 years in Plan Colombia, but also just entered into an agreement with the Colombian government to utilize 6 more Colombian military bases for US operations in the region and to allow US military and security forces FULL ACCESS to all Colombian military and police installations...There have been several, documented assassination attempts against Chávez during the past few years, and just last year, the US Government tried to place Venezuela on the list of "state sponsors of terrorism", but it didn't happen because they couldn't figure out - yet - how to still get the oil if we are truly classified as enemies.
And not to mention the complete absence of any information in US media about the achievements of the Bolivarian revolution and President Chávez's policies during the past ten years, which have resulted in free health care coverage for all 27 million Venezuelans; the eradication of illiteracy and the guarantee of all levels of education, from basic to graduate level, for free to all Venezuelans; the recuperation of national sovereignty and national industries, such as oil, in order to redistribute the wealth and attempt to reduce and eliminate poverty - to date extreme poverty has been reduced more than 30% in the past decade, under Chávez. Worker-run factories, cooperatives, community councils, indigenous people's land and language rights, women's institutes and banks, community banks, free distribution of books and reading materials, inclusion of national artists and culture in all aspects of government and social policies, and the list is endless, practically, of incredible advances and achievements on a social and economic level in Venezuela during the past 10 years. Millions of people previously invisible are now visible. Participation in every aspect of Venezuelan society - political, economic, social and cultural - is at almost a 100%. People feel that what they do, matters. These changes are absolutely extraordinary, and untold.
So, excuse my apparent "lack of humor", but Michael Moore could have at least taken one minute to say one thing good about Venezuela and Chávez, instead of doing what all those who want to diminish and devalue what is happening here always do - ridicule and make fun of Chávez, and manipulate and distort the facts.
So Michael, come and present "Capitalism: A Love Story" here in Caracas, with us, and hold your head high.
(Posted first on www.chavezcode.com on 10/26/09)