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Tuesday, July 20, 2004

So I'm not an Ambassador

The NY Times didn't see fit to publish my rebuttal to their one-sided anti-Chavez article, but they did publish this one from Venezuela's ambassador:
To the Editor:

Re "Moved by Homeland's Political Strife, Venezuelans Sign Up to Vote" (news article, July 12):

The Aug. 15 presidential referendum should be understood as a vote on whether to go back to the past — when Venezuela's oil wealth benefited a small number of well-connected individuals — or whether it should be invested in health care and education for everyone.

President Hugo Chávez has twice been elected president of Venezuela by large majorities in multiparty elections. Both elections were judged free and fair by international observers. Mr. Chávez's opposition has been determined to overthrow him by whatever means necessary.

Mr. Chávez survived a military coup in 2002 and an illegal, management-led work stoppage at our state oil company in 2003.

Despite all of this, both government and opposition polls show the president well positioned to win the August recall vote.

Ambassador of Venezuela
Washington, July 13, 2004

I was hoping to post my letter here with a link showing it in the Times, but that didn't happen. So, for the record, here's the letter I sent:
Editor, NY Times:
The harsh anti-Chavez tone of Mary Spicuzza’s July 12 article on Venezuelans voting in New York would suggest that the Times hasn’t learned from the Ahmed Chalabi-Judith Miller fiasco: embittered exiles aren’t always the most trustworthy sources. I have been to Venezuela. President Chavez was democratically elected by large majorities in 1998 and 2000. While he has done some things that are questionable, the charge of “dictator” is laughable. The opposition controls most of the media and stages large rallies regularly, and actively works to undermine the Venezuelan economy in order to discredit Chavez. Chavez is and will remain president only because he has the support of the majority of Venezuelans. It is scary watching the power structure in this country—Bush, Kerry, the Washington Post, and now the Times—line up so readily against Chavez and the people who elected him.
Here's the original Times article that Alvarez and I were referencing.