The management of reporting is blatantly distorted in many respects. How much is the subject of investigation concerning Venezuela and achievements of Hugo Chavez:
Socialist Venezuela update
Steve Whatham is a Lawyer and member of the SLP.
“Never has a country, its people, its politics, its leader, its myths and truths been so misreported and lied about as Venezuela in the past decade.
So states John Pilger – Documentary Filmmaker (“War on Democracy”) and author of Freedom Next Time
Writing December 14th 2009 Lee Salter – http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/ gives credence to this misreporting.
That there has been a decade of propaganda by the BBC in its reporting of Venezuela.
Researchers at the University of the West of England, UK, have exposed ongoing and systematic bias in the BBC’s news reporting on Venezuela. Dr Lee Salter and Dr Dave Weltman analysed ten years of BBC reports on Venezuela since the first election of Hugo Chavez to the presidency in an ongoing research project, and their findings so truth and accuracy.
The researchers looked at 304 BBC reports published between 1998 and
2008 and found that only 3 of those articles mentioned any of the positive policies introduced by the Chavez Socialist administration.
Eva Golinger also writing on Venezuela spells out some of the people friendly policies—-
The first and foremost important achievement during the Chávez administration is the 1999 Constitution, which, although not written nor decreed by Chávez himself, was created through his vision of change for Venezuela. The 1999 Constitution was, in fact, drafted – written – by the people of Venezuela in one of the most participatory examples of nation building, and then was ratified through popular national referendum by 75% of Venezuelans. The 1999 Constitution is one of the most advanced in the world in the area of human rights. It guarantees the rights to housing, education, healthcare, food, indigenous lands, languages, women’s rights, worker’s rights, living wages and a whole host of other rights that few other countries recognize on a national level. My favorite right in the Venezuelan Constitution is the right to a dignified life. That pretty much sums up all the others. Laws to implement these rights began to surface in 2001, with land reform, oil industry redistribution, tax laws and the creation of more than a dozen social programs – called missions – dedicated to addressing the basic needs of Venezuela’s poor majority. In 2003, the first missions were directed at education and healthcare. Within two years, illiteracy was eradicated in the country and Venezuela was certified by UNESCO as a nation free of illiteracy. This was done with the help of a successful Cuban literacy program called “Yo si puedo” (Yes I can). Further educational missions were created to provide free universal education from primary to doctoral levels throughout the country. Today, Venezuela’s population is much more educated than before, and adults who previously had no high school education now are encouraged to not only go through a secondary school program, but also university and graduate school.
The healthcare program, called “Barrio Adentro”, has not only provided preventive healthcare to all Venezuelans – many who never had access to a doctor before – but also has guaranteed universal, free access to medical attention at the most advanced levels. MRIs, heart surgery, lab work, cancer treatments, are all provided free of cost to anyone (including foreigners) in need. Some of the most modern clinics, diagnostic treatment centers and hospitals have been built in the past five years under this program, placing Venezuela at the forefront of medical technology.
Other programs providing subsidized food and consumer products (Mercal, Pdval), job training (Mission Vuelvan Caras), subsidies to poor, single mothers (Madres del Barrio), attention to indigents and drug addicts (Mission Negra Hipolita) have reduced extreme poverty by 50% and raised Venezuelans standard of living and quality of life. While nothing is perfect, these changes are extraordinary and have transformed Venezuela into a nation far different from what it looked like 10 years ago. In fact, the most important achievement that Hugo Chávez himself is directly responsible for is the level of participation in the political process. Today, millions of Venezuelans previously invisible and excluded are visible and included. Those who were always marginalized and ignored in Venezuela by prior governments today have a voice, are seen and heard, and are actively participating in the building of a new economic, political and social model in their country.
The BBC has failed to report adequately on any of the democratic initiatives, human rights legislation, food programmes, healthcare initiatives, or poverty reduction programmes. Mission Robinson, the greatest literacy programme in human history received only a passing mention.
According to the research the BBC seems never to have accepted the legitimacy of the President, insinuating throughout the sample that Chavez lacks electoral support, at one point comparing him to Hitler (‘Venezuela’s Dictatorship’ 31/08/99).
This undermining of Chavez must be understood in the context of his electoral record: his legitimacy is questioned despite the fact that he has been elected several times with between 56% and 60% of the vote. In contrast victorious parties in UK elections since 1979 have achieved between 35.3% and 43.9% of the vote; the current UK Prime Minister was appointed by his predecessor, and many senior members of the British cabinet have never been elected. It will come as no surprise that their legitimacy is never questioned by the BBC.
Of particular note is the BBC’s response to the military coup in 2002. BBC News published nine articles on the coup on 12th April 2002, all of which were based on the coup leaders’ version of events, who were, alongside the “opposition”, championed as saviours of “the nation”. Although BBC News did report the coup, the only time it mentioned the word “coup” was as an allegation of government officials and of Chavez’s daughter.
The “official” BBC explanation was that Chavez ‘fell’, ‘quit’, or ‘resigned’ (at best at the behest of the military) after his ‘mishandling’ of “strikes” (which, as Hardy  reminds us, were actually management lockouts) and demonstrations in which his supporters had fired on and killed protestors. In reporting this latter, Adam Easton, the BBC’s correspondent in Caracas wrote ‘Film footage also caught armed supporters of Mr Chavez firing indiscriminately at the marchers’ (‘Venezuela’s New Dawn’). The footage in question was broadcast by an oligarch’s channel that had supported the coup and was shown to have been manipulated.
Given that Chavez had won two elections and a constitutional referendum before the coup, it is surprising that the BBC privileged the coup leaders’ version of events. The democratic, restorative intentions of the coup leaders were unquestioned.
In ‘Venezuelan media: “It’s over!”‘ the BBC allows the editor of El Universal to declare unopposed “We have returned once again to democracy!”. Perhaps more significantly, in ‘Venezuela’s political disarray’ the BBC’s Americas regional editor chose to title a subheading ‘Restoring democracy’. ‘Oil prices fall as Chavez quits’ explains that Chavez quit as a result of a ‘popular uprising’.
Crucially, all of the vox pops used in the nine articles were from “opposition” supporters, and the only voices in support of Chavez were from government officials, Chavez’s daughter or Cuba. It is therefore reasonable to infer from BBC reports that ordinary Venezuelans did not support Chavez; whilst the coup was inaccurately reported as ‘popular’, the counter coup was not.
The research programme is ongoing and the researchers arrive in Caracas at the end of December for the next stage of the project.
Similarly people are questioning what Cuba us doing for their near neighbours in Haiti. The following was also sent by the SLP:
344 CUBAN MEDICS TREAT EARTHQUAKE VICTIMS
There are 344 Cuban medics working in Haiti today , they have two
improvised hospitals where they are providing services to the
earthquake victims. Only two of them were injured in the earthquake,
both of whom have received treatment for minor injuries and remain
there to assist the disaster victims.
Cuban doctors are working in all 10 “departments” (administrative
regions) of Haiti. They are assisted by approximately 400 Haitian
medical interns who have completed medical degrees on full
scholarships in Cuba.
Cuba has provided free public health care to the poor of Haiti since
1989 – the only public medicine available in that country. During the
recent coup and subsequent US/French/Canadian invasion which deposed
the Aristide presidency, Cuban doctors continued to provide medical
care when other hospitals closed down and other doctors fled the
The Cuban government has offered condolences to the people of Haiti
and pledged immediate additional medical assistance if the Haitian
government requires it.
Cuba’s “Henry Reeve Contingent”, a volunteer contingent of 1,000
medics, fully equipped and entirely self sustaining for 30 days, can
land on any airstrip in the world at 72 hours notice. Haiti is 32
miles from Cuba – members of the Henry Reeve Contingent could be there
within hours of a request.
Cuban doctors will go where no doctor has gone before, live in
conditions that no doctor has ever lived in before and deliver life
saving medical care to people who have never even seen a doctor
before. And they do all this for free. Each doctor feels privileged to
be able to use their skills to help people who are in such desperate
need of medical care. 35,000 Cuban medics currently provide healthcare
in 78 countries around the world, more than the World Health
Organisation and Medecins sans Frontiers put together.
Cuban doctors have unique experience of working in earthquake zones in
third world countries without infrastructure. There are Cuban medics
currently working on the frozen slopes of the Himalayas in Pakistan
following their unmatched medical support provided during the 2005
Pakistan earthquake. Many hiked for days over mudslides to reach the
isolated communities of the region to deliver medical assistance. To
this day, Pakistanis parents in the earthquake region name their
children after the Cuban doctors who helped deliver them.