[RCG 06.03.12] Whilst millions worldwide morn the death of the great revolutionary leader Hugo Chavez, Rory Carroll, Guardian correspondent, simply can't wait to use the opportunity to promote his book 'Comandante' slandering the contribution of the Venezuelan President. Writing as an 'authority' on Venezuela, his contributions have appeared in several newspapers in the last few days, some of which we address below:
Letter to the Guardian and Rory Carroll in response to his article: ''Hugo Chavez: poor boy from the plains who became leftwing figurehead'
Unfortunately for Rory Carroll and his supporters who are desperate for Venezuela's failure, Hugo Chavez is not leaving behind a country 'falling apart' on the road to economic ruin.
In September 2012, the International Monetary Fund estimated Venezuela’s fiscal deficit at only 7.4% of GDP and its interest payments at 3% of export earnings. Venezuela’s ‘swollen’ public sector is actually around 18.4% of the workforce, lower than in most European countries; and Venezuela ended 2012 with GDP growth of 5.5% and an inflation rate of 19.9%, which although high, is a significant reduction from 27.2% in 2010, not to mention its peak of 103.2% in 1996, prior to Chavez’s first presidency.
Indeed as Mark Weisbrot reported in this self same Guardian newspaper 'As for Venezuela's public debt..a better measure is the burden of the foreign part of this debt, which in 2012 was about 1% of GDP, or 4.1% of Venezuela's export earnings.' From the perspective of crisis ridden Britain where austerity is clearly not working, Venezuela's economy is robust in comparison. No Rory, Hugo Chavez leaves behind a Venezuela in control of its sovereign oil wealth, committed and determined to build a society geared to meeting people's needs, rather than lining the pockets of the few.
Also in response to a book review of Rory Carroll's 'Commandante' carried in The Independent on Sunday 3 March I would seriously like to question the assertion that Rory Carroll is a diligent journalist who fact checks all his sources, perhaps you haven't seen this critique on his lack of fact checking, sloppy journalism and sweeping generalisations: 'Fact Checking Rory Carroll on Venezuela' http://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/7649
I was in Venezuela in October during the presidential elections and we spent two weeks interviewing Venezuelans from various sections of society, many of the reports you can read at www.vivavenezuela.co.uk
Rory Carroll dropped into Venezuela for a couple of days, wrote several derogatory articles then returned to his embedded position in the Republican party election campaign in the US. I reprint a copy of the letter our delegation sent to Rory Carroll and the Guardian at this time:
'If Rory Carroll wants to out himself (and by extension The Guardian) as a hardline supporter of the neoliberal Capriles Radonski in the Venezuelan elections, he is entitled to do so. What he is not entitled to do is tell outright lies to back up his tendentious arguments.I have been in Caracas during the election period.
I was on the march last week (which dwarfed that of Capriles) when over a million people sang and danced in the torrential rain while waiting to hear Chavez speak; I was at Barrio 23 when they waited for two hours in the baking sun for him to arrive to vote, and I was at Miraflores Palace when the results were announced and thousands went wild with joy.
Yet it was clear from everyone I spoke to, from street vendors to police officers to lawyers, that this support was not about Chavez’s ‘charisma’ but about a solid appreciation of everything that has been achieved for the poor – health care, education, housing, independence, food security – by the Bolivarian revolution he embodies, and the understanding that this process would have been destroyed had Caprlles come to power.
Chavez did not, as Carroll suggests, ‘dominate the media’. The media in Venezuela is 90% owned by the opposition; in fact according to Mark Weisbrot in the Guardian on 4th October, state TV has between 5-8% of the country’s audience.
Carroll says ‘some opponents have cried foul’. His friends, maybe, but the official opposition has made no such claims, accepting defeat and praising the smooth running of election day.
Carroll gives us a brief history of Chavez, but not curiously of Capriles. Is that because he would have had to tell us that Capriles participated in the 2002 coup and was involved in an attack on the Cuban Embassy in his home state of Miranda?
Finally, he tells us that Chavez uses the fact that he has a majority as a ‘pillar of his legitimacy’. Excuse me, Mr Carroll, but that’s what democracy’s all about.
Cat Allison - Posada de la Vida, Caracas, Venezuela'
(Sam McGill, Editor of www.vivavenezuela.co.uk)