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A snapshot of Venezuela taken by Greg Palast

By Gustavo Coronel November 28, 2003

A reporter from the UK, Greg Palast, has visited Venezuela and has taken what he calls a snapshot of Venezuela. In his report he shows, quite candidly, an empty booth manned by a couple of chavistas, sending his readers the right visual message about the failed collection of signatures by government followers during this recent political event, although his written message is that in this booth 6,000 signatures were collected!

Mr. Palast is a racist. Both of the reports I have read make a big issue out of the color of our skins, white for bad and brown for good. He says: “it’s all about race and class.” The man is so ignorant about our country that he does not know that we are a mestizo country. He goes as far as saying that we run an apartheid system, like the one in South Africa. He says that the whites had “command of the oil wealth, the best jobs, the English-language lessons. . . . The plantations, the vacations in Miami.” Until, of course, Chávez came along. Now, Palast says, the brown people have “a piece of the action.”

In his “reporting” Mr. Palast is faithfully following a script designed by Chávez to promote racial and class struggle in Venezuela. This strategy is not working, although there are many poor Venezuelans. But in Venezuela, poverty and racism are separate concepts. We are all mestizos here and 85% of our population is poor. The problem of Venezuelan poverty has to do with lack of education and with government corruption, not with skin color. The Chávez government promotes racial hate but does nothing to alleviate the problems of ignorance and corruption. In fact, ignorance and corruption have become characteristic of this government. Universities are “created” overnight but they have no faculty, no infrastructure, and no financial resources. Primary schools lack the most basic facilities. Scandals involving the Chávez immediate group of friends and relatives are almost daily occurrences. Obviously Palast could not see this Venezuela during his brief visit, since he was continuously chaperoned by paid Chávez staff and snapshots were taken with the help of Mr. Wilpert.

Mr. Palast asserts that the opposition plans a civil war if not enough signatures are collected to revoke the President. This would be equivalent to assaulting the arbiter when you are winning the game. It makes no sense. The only person thinking violence in Venezuela is Chávez, since he is on the verge of being ousted in a democratic manner, in the polls.

The reporter claims that Chávez told him that he had seen children killed by soldiers in 1989. This is a good example of presidential cynicism. Chávez was responsible for the death of hundreds of Venezuelans during his inept and failed coup in 1992. Among the dead was a beautiful girl called Noelia, who happened to be studying for a school test the next day. Chávez has no moral authority to blame others for the wrong deeds he has committed.

These reports by Mr. Palast are typical of made to order jobs, serving a propaganda machine, which represents one of the most corrupt aspects of the Chávez government. Due to his lack of balance and objectivity he comes across as a hired gun. Much of the money utilized by Chávez in transporting, feeding and paying for hired guns could have been much better used in fighting poverty and ignorance in our country.


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