Guest Column: Bias exists against Latin America
Even if you don’t notice the dissenting tone or language that the mainstream media uses when reporting on the democratically elected presidents of Latin America, such as Evo Morales of Bolivia and the more well known Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, the slanted and incomplete view dished out by the corporate media leads less-informed audiences to believe that these leaders pose an immediate threat to our society.
The U.S. government likes to portray these Latin American leaders as if they are evil dictators, but we’ve heard this one time too many. Chavez is developing his country, but because his social reforms do not benefit the corporate agenda and imperialistic tendencies of the U.S government, then its leaders automatically jump as if our nation is in danger.
The American government declares itself a democracy and imposes their policies on other counties that do not comply with its beliefs. Why is it that Americans are knowledgeable about other countries’ crimes, but fail to recognize their own? Much of the United States’ history is filled with deception and greed, yet we are taught to believe that American democracy is the only just system.
Before Chavez was elected, 60 percent of Venezuela was owned by mostly American foreigners. Chavez bought the land that was not being used for productive purposes and gave it back to the peasants and farmers so they can put it to work for the benefit of their country and their people.
American TV reporters like to ask where the oil-driven Venezuelan economy is going and what Chavez is doing with the billions of petro-dollars. Chavez is giving the wealth back to the barrios and the people of Venezuela, some of whom are experiencing hospitals and schools for the first time in their lives. Stay-at-home moms have a salary, and literacy rates have skyrocketed. The Venezuelan government has sacked the old corrupt management of Petr’oacute;leos de Venezuela, S.A, the state oil company that allows its revenues to be used for social and economic development.
Still, the rich and their U.S. backers attempted a coup against Chavez in 2002, but after mass demonstrations Chavez was returned to power within 48 hours. The bourgeoisie then tried shutting down the economy, but this was again defeated through mass mobilizations and through the action of workers in key industries. The corporate elite has tried to remove Chaves three times, even though his support has now reached 70 percent.
The U.S. has only 20 billion barrels of oil in reserve, and with a tightening oil market we have a desperate need to control more energy supplies. Venezuela has 300 billion barrels of oil in reserves. The U.S will need to come up with an excuse to invade another country, and what better method than declaring Chavez a tyrant and dictator? No one country knows more about placing or keeping dictators in power than the United States.
The examples of the late Saddam Hussein of Iraq and Gen. Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan quickly come to mind. An invasion of Venezuela could be easily justified, but the only country that seems to have a real problem with Chavez is the United States just as they have problems with Russia, Iran, China, Iraq and the list goes on. It’s easy to detect the pattern. The dilemma is not on foreign lands, the problem is right here in the good ol’ U.S.A.
How can it be a problem that Chavez is making a more just and livable Venezuela? Is it so wrong that he is raising the taxes on luxury cars and alcohol? He states, "We don’t want the American way of life; we just want to live in a dignified way."
Since Chavez took office, the number of Venezuelans living below the poverty line has decreased by 11.2 percent but in the United States the number has increased a percentage point over the most recent five-year statistical period. That means more than 7 million more Americans are living in poverty now than in 2000.
Chavez is not placing people in concentration camps like the U.S.-backed Pinochet government in Chile did. The American government and its corporate media want us to believe that freedom of speech does not exist on Venezuelan television, but spend two days there and you will see that there is no censorship. TV commentators are allowed to speak their mind. Six major news stations are privately owned, and only two are government owned.
Venezuelan reporters have just as much free speech as the right-wing Fox News Channel does here. They like to stir fear because they know that Latin American countries have potential to strive forward, because they know it is time to take the power back. Unlike the Bush administration, Chavez and his Venezuelan revolution represent an alternative to neo-liberalism for millions of people.
Ramirez, a political science freshman, can be reached via [email protected]