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Juan Forero article fails to mention poverty hike in Venezuela

Letters to the New York Times

04.05.05 | Dear Sir, Juan Forero's article of April 25, "Fiscal Growth in Latin Lands Fails to Fill Social Needs," contains a glaring factual error -- namely, the suggestion that Venezuela's record oil revenues have helped to ease poverty. In fact, poverty under Hugo Chavez, during the past six years, has increased 10 percent! This is according to official government statistics. Yet Forero fails to point this out. He instead makes it seem that Venezuela is doing better than other countries in Latin America.

I'm not sure how widely the spike in Venezuela's poverty rate has been reported; so perhaps Forero is unaware of it. Clearly, it is worth a story in itself. In this regard, I do know that the local press in Venezuela has picked up on the hike in poverty; and Andres Oppenheimer, of The Miami Herald, recently had a column about the increase in poverty under Chavez. I think the AP may have reported on this issue as well. But, apparently, it's all news to Forero.

Below, please my letter to the editor pointing out the error I have described. To my knowledge, this letter has not been published. Nor has there been a correction or clarification regarding the error. Accordingly, I hope you will look into this matter, which, unlike the other issue I recently pointed out to you -- Forero's claim that Washington offered "tacit support" for a military coup -- is a clear cut case of a factual error that misrepresents reality.

To the Editor:

Juan Forero cites several countries in Latin America where poverty, ironically, has persisted despite economic growth ("Fiscal Growth in Latin Lands Fails to Fill Social Needs," April 25.) However, he wrongly claims that Venezuela is an exception to this. In fact, according to several recent news reports, poverty under six years of President's Hugo Chavez's populist and left-wing administration has increased by 10 percent. That's despite Chavez's much-vaunted social programs that have been fueled by record oil prices.


The New York Times' reply:

Sent: Mon, 02 May 2005 13:17:49 -0400
Subject: 5/2 NYT Public Editor Office Msg re: 5/2 Juan Forero article fails to mention poverty hike in Venezuela

Dear Mr.,

I raised your concern with a senior editor who did not believe a correction was merited. Thanks for writing.


The New York Times

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