Media Accuracy on Venezuela and The Battle of Ideas

July 23, 2009

In the last decade, one of the media’s most vital and precarious assignments has been to generate misinformation on Venezuela’s political and economic reality. In an age of such overtly partisan support for capitalism within popular culture, it is imperative that social justice be committed in its efforts to dispense a healthy amount of scrutiny and criticism to counter the gross media distortions that dominate television, radio, and print today. By extension springs the necessity to go deeper in exposing the arrogance and hypocrisy of western “democracy”. The politics of reaction is one that demonizes social progress and equality because they threaten the advancement of the culture of consumption, and of the elites’ land of milk and honey. It is the politics which fights for economic supremacy instead of fighting for the betterment of people’s lives, and the side which forgets that democracy is not democratic if it is imposed. The ruling class interprets Revolutionary politics simply as an interference in their crusade for slave labour, consumers, and markets. In the 21st century, information is the newest religion, so the ideological battlefield is the most important one, and that is why media plays such a central role in maintaining the status-quo of social, political, and economic regression. The United-States and its media lackeys don’t actually see Venezuela as the greatest of all evils, as a dark despotic threat with the capacity to destroy freedom and humanity, as they often attempt to portray it, but rather they realize that it is a powerful and appealing force for good, a set of ideas which can effectively challenge and alter the spread of neo-democracy. What capitalism desperately needs to prevent is that power of example, the power of influence, the power of truth, and the power in numbers that truth can unleash.

There is a group of certain countries, the opponents of capitalism and globalization, and even those who simply oppose the political and economic dominance of the United-States, whose government figures and statements are always allegedly false or inaccurate according to the right-wing media. Are they all deceitful totalitarian tyrants who constantly falsify every detail of national statistics? Is capitalism and its so-called democracy the only side which invariably always tells the truth?

What we see today in the Northern capitalist countries is a very watered down version of democracy. These “democracies”, and especially the political system of the United-States, are hailed as shining examples for the world to follow. However, they are governments founded on big business, and therefore the best interests of the majority of their citizens are in conflict with free-market prosperity. The ruling parties who govern these countries have essentially become massive political beehives of wealth, where financial deals and rampant corruption are common  place, tactical shifting from the corporate to the political world is standard practice, and where corporate lobbying has become an accepted political norm.

The fact that the Venezuelan government regularly holds elections and passes all important major decisions through referendum proves that Hugo Chavez is not authoritarian, or an autocrat, a dictator, whatever vilification the reactionary media throws at him. Capitalist thought and the right-wing Western world argue that their system is the only appropriate and truly democratic way, and believe that democracy needs to extend to citizens only during time of elections, only by the one simple act of voting. In the Western world, an election is a two-party system million dollar show-down, where the winning party proceeds to impose its agenda at will for the next 4 or 5 years, without any public participation or input whatsoever, with democratic wishes ignored, and promised platforms abandoned, which is actually closer to dictatorship than it is to democracy.

The following is an analysis of various print excerpts of media reaction following the Feb.15.09 referendum win on indefinite re-election by the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). In February and March 2009 there was another ambitious media onslaught against the fiery South American country. Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan government led by the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, and the ambitions and actions of the Venezuelan people are the focus of this discourse, but Venezuela is only one front in a much larger and profound universal battle of ideas.

It is important to explain why the right-wing media is not only unjustified in its attacks against Venezuela, neo-liberalism’s most prominent adversary, but also simply incorrect in its general assumptions. The Economist newspaper which often makes direct and scathing accusations against leftist governments with no evidence or basis for their statements, had this to say: “’More than a struggle against a proposal,’ said Omar Barboza, the president of A New Time, an opposition party, ‘this has been a struggle against the state’. Mr Chávez, he told a press conference, had shown ‘no scruples’ in using public resources to wage his campaign.’”[i] Actually, it is more ethical to use public money for election campaigns than it is to use private funds; even a country like Canada, for example, provides public funding for political parties. The ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela is constantly under threat, under so much financial pressure from corporate attacks, and from underhanded tactics of sabotage and subversion, interventionist political and financial support which comes from illegal and/or foreign sources. So why should the PSUV not be allowed to use legitimate funds coming from the people of its own country? Also, the capitalist status-quo still forces Venezuela to engage in these huge two-party showdowns, otherwise the reactionary media would cry foul and dictatorship even more than they do now, so the PSUV has no choice but to run election campaigns. Right-wing political parties get their funding from massive private wealth because the ruling class is their base of support, and the PSUV get their funding from public resources because they are a party of the people. The PSUV’s base of support is not with corporations, or billionaires, or rich imperialist foreign governments, their base of support is the grassroots, the workers, students, and poor families, the same people who have handed power to the left in Venezuela for the last ten years and until 2013, the same people who have handed victory to the Venezuelan left in 14 of the last 15 electoral processes.

The same article in The Economist goes on to say that “Public buildings and vehicles were plastered with pro Chávez propaganda. State television and radio channels turned over almost their entire resources to promoting the campaign. And even the Caracas metro obliged passengers to listen to campaign jingles….The president obliged all radio and television channels to carry his victory speech, which came immediately after the CNE’s announcement”(The Economist, Feb.16.2009). First, the claim that the government obliged all radio and television channels to air the victory speech is pure fabrication and slander, as is usually the case with the media regarding Venezuela. In fact, the media in this country is given unbridled liberty, and Venezuela is one of the only countries in the world where television is largely dominated by opposition news channels. Everything else is simply campaigning, it is simply selling yourself and your ideas, and to say that right-wing parties don’t do the same thing would be completely untrue; it is hypocritical to judge your opponents for doing something that you take part in yourself. In terms of the ad campaigns, again this is common procedure during elections for all political parties, in various types of political systems.  In terms of the radio and television coverage of either the PSUV campaign, the referendum itself, or the victory speech, of course television and radio are going to cover these hugely important political developments, as media networks would in any other country, even opposition news channels. What the right is crying foul about is simply enthusiastic campaigning from a people who are proud of their politics, and the fact that this formula is proving so effective at generating victories for the Revolution is the reason why the right is so disgruntled with Venezuela.

Al-Jazeera, a far more impartial news source which reports with considerably more journalistic integrity, avoided attempts to denigrate Venezuela and steered away from direct accusations, saying simply that “opposition party members criticized Chavez for using state funds to sponsor his referendum campaign.”[ii] Interestingly enough, however, the Al-Jazeera news piece finishes by saying, “About 100 international observers monitored the vote, but neither the Organization of American States (OAS) nor the European Union had official observers in Venezuela”(Al Jazeera, Feb.17.2009). Not much is meant by this innocent remark, but it is a little bit heedless, unmindful to the fact that the 98 other organizations present in Venezuela were probably more credible and trustworthy in this case then the two mentioned, as if the O.A.S and the E.U. were the most legitimate and open-minded sources to judge Latin American affairs. The E.U. perhaps not as strongly, but the partisan and intolerant OAS towards Venezuela is easily one of the most unfriendly, and hostile international organizations in the world.

Another thing the media does, and they have done this in the past also, is to exaggerate the weight and relevance of the opposition “movement”, to try and aggrandize its legitimacy. They attempted to portray the opposition as a natural student led reaction to President Chavez’s traitorous politics, a fabricated angle they had used also during the course of the previous presidential elections. This tactic attempts to paint a picture of a Chavez government whose despotic state control is so overbearing, that the opposition has simply chosen not to participate in the face of futility. A Reuters article claimed that “Opposition parties had pinned their hopes on a popular but inexperienced and under-financed student movement spearheading opposition to Mr. Chavez.”[iii] The Economist wrote that “the opposition parties took a back seat, leaving the student movement to spearhead rallies and marches”(The Economist, Feb.17.2009). To say that opposition parties had simply resigned themselves to relying on the “student movement” in the face of President Chavez’s totalitarian control is only the media spin that the opposition has chosen to prop up to discredit the PSUV and the Revolution, and to say that the student “movement” is under-financed is pure hogwash. Even if this student movement did rise up on its own, it would not have remained under-financed for very long, as the opposition parties would have immediately jumped at the chance to throw it millions of dollars. It is not even far-fetched to suggest that the opposition is funding the “student movement”, considering opposition parties have openly paid people to vote in their favor in Latin American elections in the past; this is standard practice by right-wing parties in Bolivia for example. Furthermore, even if the “student movement” is a legitimately spontaneous action of opposition, it only speaks to the depth of Venezuelan democracy that there is an active and healthy young opposition. It is simply not as strong and popular as the Bolivarian movement, and that does not make Venezuela undemocratic.

The Economist also wrote: “Parliament, in which Mr Chávez has an overwhelming majority, had been instructed to propose the constitutional amendment. It framed a tortuous, 75-word question which avoided all mention of the issue of indefinite re-election. Instead, it asked voters, in barely intelligible terms, whether they wanted to “expand the rights of the people”, by reforming five articles of the constitution”(The Economist, Feb.17.2009). The initial sentence of Chavez having an overwhelming majority in parliament is implied in a negative tone for no legitimate reason, and is unimportant because it is a democratically elected and democratically operating majority. Secondly, the suggestion that the amendment proposal was evasive is also ridiculous considering Chavez has been talking about these amendments for almost two years, and they have been discussed in detail from the bottom up in the Bolivarian circles and neighborhood committees several times over. Thirdly, to imply that the government is trying to fool the public with an ambiguous question or statement, is an insult to the intelligence of Venezuelans, and overlooks the obvious fact that Venezuelans, inevitably, are some of the most politicized people in the world. To make the suggestion that they are uninformed about the changes and processes happening in their own country is a comment only the narrow-minded, uninformed opposition media would make. Venezuela is the country which has seen the greatest and most significant political change in the world in the last decade, and to suggest that its people are politically inept is completely absurd.

President Chavez also speaks to the entire nation for upwards of three hours on national television almost every Sunday on his television program Alo Presidente, and transmits to them every single item of every one of the country’s ambitions and projects, sometimes even down to the most minute details. He travels to all parts of the country to air this television program in order to interact with the various regions. The process really becomes a dialogue as he walks around towns and cities before and after the show, discussing with people how initiatives have affected them, their opinions and ideas on projects, problems, and initiatives emanating from the neighborhood and municipal committees, and what the PSUV is working on and trying to accomplish in the grand scheme of things. If this is not one of the greatest examples of an exercise in democracy then I am hard-pressed to find one. Can a political process of communication and dialogue between a government and its people be anymore transparent and interactive than this? Certainly not the bourgeois house of reps, parliaments, or senates where a few hundred millionaires and bureaucrats decide the fate of millions of working class families? Or is it that they believe average people to be unfit for politics?

Reuters decided to make some very broad, general statements against Venezuela: “Discontent over high crime rates and soaring living costs — Venezuela’s inflation is among the highest in the world — eroded Mr. Chavez’s support but he was still able to pull out a victory”(Reuters, Feb.15, 2009), as if Venezuela was the only country in the world to face these problems at the current time. First off, crime rates are very high all over Latin America, so that doesn’t mean much. Secondly, soaring living costs, which are exaggerated to begin with, are due to the fact that Venezuela’s economy is unfortunately still mainly capitalist*, and because the corporations who have a near monopoly on food supply and production constantly hoard products to induce food scarcity in order to destabilize the economy, and discredit the government. Once there is a planned economy in Venezuela primarily under state control, living costs will be amongst the lowest and most affordable in the world, as they are in Cuba. The comment on inflation which tries to paint a picture of an unhealthy Venezuelan economy, is insubstantial since the recession has a global impact which renders the economies of almost every country in the world debilitated. Aside from that obvious fact, Venezuela, along with Argentina, and Russia to name only a few, countries that don’t follow Washington’s advice on economic policy to say the least, have had some of the world’s most dynamic and prosperous economies in the last few years. Furthermore, the measure of inflation is based only on numbers and doesn’t speak to actual material conditions on the ground, conditions which can be altered positively with appropriate government controls and intervention, as is the case in Venezuela.

Reuters also weighed in on Venezuela’s economy, contributing a tainted and narrow-minded analysis, which is not only inaccurate, but also speaks of Venezuela as if it was just another regular member of the capitalist club. The article states, “Investors worry that Mr. Chavez will burn through international reserves to maintain social programs despite falling revenue, and the value of Venezuela’s currency and sovereign debt could fall further. Both have slumped in recent months on low oil prices”(Reuters, Feb.15, 2009). Again, media chooses to ignore the fact that recession affects almost every country in the world, and that underdeveloped countries are no exception, in most cases in fact they can be hit with even more devastating intensity, because of their dependency on food imports and high commodity prices in the hierarchical capitalist economy. Furthermore the article’s logic implies that Venezuela concerns itself with international market equilibrium and the health of hedge funds.

Another adored method of the media in discrediting Venezuela is to harp on the fabricated personality cult that they have conjured. This tactic amounts to nothing more than a personal attack on Hugo Chavez, which often practically reduces itself to unintelligent, childish name-calling. In essence, the media have created their own sort of negative reverse personality cult by demonizing only one person, thereby simplifying their attacks and providing no credibility whatsoever to the assumed, imagined evil that they so enthusiastically perpetrate. The Economist wrote about President Chavez’s victory speech saying, “It was long on rhetoric and extremely short on magnanimity or reconciliation. ‘We have opened the doors to the future,’ a rapturous Mr Chávez told his supporters. ‘What was being decided today was my political destiny, and the destiny of my life’. He reiterated his belief that the only future for Venezuela lay with his ’21st century socialism'”(The Economist, Feb.16, 2009). This is not a display of vanity or self-absorption, it is simply a man who expresses himself and his feelings in front of his people. He does not have an elaborate team of speech-writers, he simply says what he honestly thinks. He is a person before being a politician, people respect and support him for that, and that is why he has garnered such overwhelming popular support in the last decade. When people see a man up on a podium speaking to them about politics the same way their next-door neighbor does, and not like a distant bureaucrat, the response tends to be favorable. His public speeches and appearances have not always been so heavy in revolutionary and socialist rhetoric, but they have always been rich in sincerity and straightforwardness.

Another angle of attack is to criticize the electoral process itself, or the decisions and proposals being voted on. In the previous referendum on indefinite re-election, which the PSUV lost in December of 2007, the proposal included the reform of various other articles of the constitution. In essence, they were changes intended to decentralize power and decision-making, so that the legislative process could run increasingly from the bottom up, creating grassroots embodiment and integrity through the neighborhood committees and councils. But again the media tries to portray this legitimate increase in democracy as nothing more than government propaganda. Reuters wrote that  “Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez won a referendum vote on Sunday that lets him stay in power for as long as he keeps beating rivals in elections”(Reuters, Feb.15, 2009); the key part of that statement being “as long as he keeps beating rivals in elections”, because that is exactly what he has been doing. Of course, the media takes no time to analyze or write about the other proposed amendments. The goal is to keep their approach and their accusations as simplistic as possible, highlighting and magnifying the narrow slander angles they have chosen.

The New York Times wrote: “The question of how much longer Mr. Chávez needs to transform Venezuela torments his critics. Five million voters, more than 45 percent of Sunday’s electorate, voted against his measure.”[iv] The 45 % of the electorate that voted against the PSUV in the referendum still gives President Chavez 55 % support, which is a significant margin compared to most western nations, especially the U.S. where elections are won by decimal points, but no one would ever question the legitimacy of Barack Obama’s mandate. Over 59 million voters, almost 46 percent of the electorate in the November 2008 US presidential election, voted against Barack Obama, but the media, of course, would never challenge the validity of the United-States’ political system. Majority rules as democracy is the electoral system that capitalism imposes on almost every country in the world, but when the ruling party is not to their liking, the government in question is immediately dismissed as authoritarian. Right-wing politics tries to criticize Hugo Chavez because some people vote against him or his party in general elections and referendum, but that is the nature of two party politics, that nearly half of the electorate are automatically opposed to, or at least have voted against the winning party. The one single act of voting in itself is democratic, but the system as a whole is nowhere near complete democracy. Only a system of deep-rooted participatory democracy where all important decisions, policies, and projects are discussed, debated, and created by people from the grassroots up, is truly democratic.

What exists in Venezuela is a political system of consummate representation, and also of participation, a government of the people, and also a government of social movements. As was mentioned earlier, the forces led by Hugo Chavez have won 14 of the last 15 electoral processes with very large percentages of voter turnout, and with clean and undeniable majorities every time. The February 2009 referendum featured over 70 % voter participation, which is significantly higher than the average for the Northern industrial countries. The social mechanisms that have been put in place by a decade of revolutionary policy have been highly successful in providing free quality healthcare and education to all sectors of the population that previously had no access to them, in all areas of the country, while also drastically reducing poverty. Even the New York Times admits that President Chavez’s measures have  “delivered to the poor, cutting the poverty rate to 26 percent at the end of 2008 from 54 percent in 2003”; poverty cut in half in only 5 years is proof that social progress is moving forward at an astonishing speed in Venezuela. Despite the media fabrications and accusations of undemocratic ways, what is happening in Venezuela is a series of real concrete transformations which are increasingly solidifying political power into the hands of the grassroots.

Another flaw of the reactionary media is its misguided tendency to condemn “populism” as a political snake in the grass. Essentially they interpret socially minded governments with progressive domestic policy as insidious and poisonous, perpetrators of evil egalitarian ideals in a world of capitalism. But the natural logic that right-wing ideology seeks to conceal is that free or inexpensive healthcare and education, and subsidized food, housing, and fuel are rights rather than privileges, and that giving your electorate what they demand is the very definition of democracy. The media seeks to cast negativity on the fact that President Chavez  “is popular for spending on health clinics, schools and food hand-outs”(Reuters, Feb.15, 2009), but massive social spending and a planned economy in an underdeveloped poverty-stricken country are necessary in order to raise living standards, something which capitalism and deregulation for decades in Venezuela have clearly been unable to accomplish.

Also frequently stressed are Venezuela’s ties with Russia and Iran; the three have been mentioned together as a sort of new “axis of evil”. It is very unfortunate that the United-States always seeks enemies rather than seeking friends. Venezuela dialogues with Russia and Iran because the three countries have something in common; they are all resource rich countries threatened by the United-States. That does not mean they practice the same fiscal, domestic, or foreign policies, and therefore they should not be categorized together as the “three amigos of authoritarianism”[v], or anything else derogatory. The media also laments incessantly the closeness between Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador, and criticizes them because they have joined in “increasing state control over the economy in the name of bringing wealth to neglected poor majorities”(Reuters, Feb.15, 2009). It is only natural that these three work together in achieving collective goals and common interests, as they are neighbors and sister nations of South America, and regional partners and allies, as Mexico and Canada are to the United-States. The media, however, doesn’t complain about NAFTA, it only criticizes those who complain about NAFTA. After decades of dictatorships, exploitation, and dependence, South America has an inalienable right to benefit from its own resources.

The New York Times wrote that “Mr. Chávez had ample reason not to focus his remarks on oil prices, even if it is this commodity that determines the nation’s fortunes”(Romero, The New York Times, Feb.16, 2009). Again they attack Venezuela as if the government deliberately runs its country as a single-commodity economy. It is not Venezuela’s fault that it possesses only one major lucrative commodity within its geographical borders, boundaries which, by the way, were drawn up by colonialism to facilitate the management of exploitation in South America. Neither is it Venezuela’s fault that decades of capitalism and neo-liberal structuring have condemned it to dependence and single-commodity ineptitude. Furthermore, The New York Times’ statement again implies that the Venezuelan people are somehow unaware or unclear about what is happening to their economy and their country. As I’ve stated already, Venezuelans are unalterably linked to politics, and to suggest that they might fail to understand that lower oil prices affect their country, that they might fail to see the connection between politics and economics, or that Hugo Chavez is trying to hide this from them is absurd, and suggests that the media is either obliviously self-absorbed in the fool’s paradise they have created, or simply, that they are running out of ideas.

Marcus Gee, columnist for The Globe And Mail newspaper, undoubtedly takes the crown for reactionary ignorance. In his article, “Will This Global Crisis Help Pull The Plug on Autocrats?”, he writes,  “All three looked like big men when oil was going for $100 a barrel and more. Spitting defiance at the West, they seemed to represent a new form of populist authoritarianism that could rival the appeal and strength of the democracies. These days, with oil at $40 and below, they have lost some of their swagger”(Gee, The Globe and Mail, Feb.13, 2009). I cannot speak for the leaders of Russia and Iran, but President Chavez’s political legitimacy is exactly that, political legitimacy; his popularity is not based on the price of oil, and the fact that a barrel in May, 2009 has hovered between $ 50 to $ 60, around $ 55 less than it was six months ago, does not alter his political credibility. Venezuelans are not simply going to vote for Mr.Chavez when the price of oil is high, and vote against him when the price of oil is low. In the last ten years, and in 14 of 15 electoral processes during that period, the price of oil has not always been at $ 100 a barrel and over, and it certainly was not even close to that when the PSUV and the Venezuelan people won the referendum on indefinite re-election in February of 2009. With all their short-sighted comments incessantly revolving around the price of oil, the reaction is trying to negate a far deeper and more complex process of politics at a human level in Venezuela.

He continues by writing, “the falling oil price has hurt him. Venezuela depends on oil for 90 per cent of its exports. Yet, output has been declining …..Venezuela gets by on large-scale food imports supported by oil revenue. Those will be harder to afford as the economy contracts this year. Mr. Chavez’s bluster about evil Western plots is beginning to ring hollow”(Gee, The Globe and Mail, Feb.13, 2009). The fact that the capitalist economy is contracting and that the price of oil has gone down drastically has absolutely nothing to do with the rhetoric of Hugo Chavez. Low oil prices are not caused by Venezuela; we are in a time of recession, a time when the contradictions of capitalism are showing themselves, and the erratic patterns of the international economy, including volatile commodity prices, are caused by the current failure of the free-market, and also simply by its chronic instability. This fact does not mean that Hugo Chavez’s anti-capitalist rhetoric “is beginning to ring hollow”, that it is losing some of its credibility, on the contrary, capitalism’s current breakdown, if anything, is vindicating his theories. The price of oil may be low, but Hugo Chavez’s rhetoric will remain the same, its content will remain the same, its ideology will remain the same, and one thing has absolutely nothing to do with the other. Mr.Gee’s five points on the Venezuelan economy in the above quoted paragraph are accurate, even though declining oil prices are caused by free-market chaos and not by Venezuela, but the last sentence, “Mr.Chavez’s bluster about evil western plots is beginning to ring hollow”(Gee, The Globe and Mail, Feb.13, 2009) has absolutely nothing to do with food imports being harder to afford because of the economic crash. There is no connection between the two, no relevance, no intelligent analysis whatsoever, it is an impertinent sentence randomly placed in a paragraph simply because it makes Hugo Chavez sound bad. This is simply very bad journalism, let alone incisive analysis by a columnist in Canada`s highest quality newspaper. If Mr.Gee and the reactionary journalists want to continue slandering at will, they will need to come up with far more resourceful efforts.

Mr.Gee also lambasts the governments of poor countries as if the current economic hardships in countries like Venezuela and Iran, for example, were isolated cases of national mismanagement by autocrats and demagogues, not mentioning much about the recession, and almost blaming them instead of Washington. Like any typical reactionary writer, he loves to throw around the words autocrat, and authoritarian, and he can make statements sound poetic and theatrical, but substance, logic, and cohesiveness are always lacking. This is symptomatic of reactionary journalism. The purpose of right-wing media above intellectual integrity and quality is always to advance their own agenda, and for this their content doesn’t necessarily need to be intelligent and analytical, it needs only to be convincing. Most often, this consists of nothing more than repeating a series of mindless formulated slogans and derogatory political terminology. Only a little bit of attention to the mainstream media is required to see that its most regular weapon is repetition. So goes the Goebellian principle that a lie repeated enough times, seemingly becomes truth over time. George Orwell wrote, “if all others accepted the lie which the party imposed – if all records told the same tale – then the lie passed into history and became truth.” Globalization`s most significant threat today is the ethical upper-hand of alternative ideas, and so the media`s primary means of preventing that progress is the distortion, or omission of certain information.

Globalization has spread to almost all parts of the world, but ideological resistance to this model of inequality is gaining momentum, and is as strong today as it has ever been. As a result, neo-liberalism has had to increasingly rely on the media to counter these resurgent revolutionary ideas. The fabric of capitalism, to a large extent, is based on lies and deception, so while maintaining its own name in good standing is essential, it is also imperative that they attempt to eradicate the truth of genuine Revolutionary change. One of their most tenacious ideological enemies is of course Venezuela. Every time something positive happens in Venezuela that furthers the progress of its Revolution, the bourgeois media and columnists feel threatened, and feel the need to attack and slander. This reaction is the expression of a sense of fear and insecurity, provoked by the undeniable legitimacy, advancement, and moral superiority of a system that rivals their own. That is why media distortions must be vigorously countered, and why the battle of ideas must be at the forefront, and while we wage it, let us remember that truth, and integrity are unconquerable weapons.

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* The fact that Venezuela’s economy is still primarily capitalist is because many of its key industries remain in private hands. This is due to a lack of funds, and technical professionals, which are siphoned from the country via the brain drain, both of which are needed to nationalize key industries. This is a process that requires much time


[i] The Economist, A Firmer Grip on Power, Feb.16, 2009.

[ii]Al Jazeera, Chavez Wins Venezuela Referendum, Feb.17, 2009.

[iii] Patrick Markey, Chavez wins referendum vote, Reuters, Feb.15. 2009.

[iv]Simon Romero, Chávez Looks Beyond 2013 as He Faces Serious Challenges,

The New York Times, Feb.16, 2009.

[v] Marcus Gee, Will This Global Crisis Help Pull the Plug on Autocrats?, The Globe and Mail, Feb.13, 2009.

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