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Venezuela: Open Letter to the Washington Post

By Aleksander Boyd

London 27 May 2004 – Yesterday’s editorial by the Washington Post has rocked the chavista world. They are still trying to figure out what hit them where. Mind you there we have a president bent on taking a country down the authoritarian path. In so doing he disregards the entire legislation of the land with complete impunity. He reckons that he can buy out the conscience of the international community with oil and money in quite the same way he buys support from the downtrodden with subsidised chicken. So he sets out in his adventure and hires pens and lobbyists responsible to keep the level of criticism towards him at an acceptable level.

However good and commendable the efforts of the latter are, he does not seem to exert any restrain in his own actions or those of his cronies. Thus the world watches him accusing the US of interference on a daily basis but also notes his comments about a Bolivian beach or his praise, and alleged financial support, for "narco-trade unionist" Evo Morales. He condemns publicly the NED for donating monies to NGOs in Venezuela whilst he funds an ‘information office’ in the US whose core business is to spread misinformation and hassle congressmen. His American advocates maintain that freedom of speech is respected in Venezuela but a Venezuelan Ambassador in Vienna tries everything in his power to cancel a conference given by yours truly.

The editorial team at the Washington Post appears to be au courant of the situation. In an unprecedented move they posted and Op-Ed purportedly written by Hugo Chavez and right next to it a rebuttal, which needs to be stressed, was a jewel for its clarity, simplicity and briefness.

One can presume that there is nothing more important in Chavez’ mind than to stop the million souls that will pour out to the streets of Venezuela in the next three days to ratify, for the third time in 15 months, their political stance. The Washington Post will be dealt with in the future. Since none of the country’s officials has the intellectual capacity nor the clarity of thought to rebuke the damaging editorial they are betting on Patton Boggs and the aforementioned ‘Venezuelan Information Office.’ The former received not long ago $1.2 million to ‘keep Washingtonites informed’ about Venezuelan matters. The latter has been endowed with $572.595 [2003-2004 figures] to maintain Chavez’ democratic façade in Capitol Hill. What’s going on? Are petro-dollars not good anymore?

Since I started commenting on my country’s issues, the Post’s editorial of yesterday is without a doubt the clearest example of the absolute failure of the international campaign devised in Havana to present the Venezuelan pariah as a benign figure. No one buys that rubbish anymore.

To the Washington Post team my heartfelt gratitude for having started calling things by its names and utmost admiration for demonstrating that there is indeed some integrity left in American journalism.

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