Somebody wrote a letter for Mr. Nicolas Maduro and got it published in the NYT. I include my comments:
CARACAS, Venezuela — THE recent protests in Venezuela have made international headlines. Much of the foreign media coverage has distorted the reality of my country and the facts surrounding the events.
Comment: could it be that the foreign press is not censored?
Venezuelans are proud of our democracy. We have built a participatory democratic movement from the grass roots that has ensured that both power and resources are equitably distributed among our people.
Comment: Liar. Never before has Venezuela been so divided and its middle class so mistreated, abused and expropriated.
According to the United Nations, Venezuela has consistently reduced inequality: It now has the lowest income inequality in the region. We have reduced poverty enormously — to 25.4 percent in 2012, on the World Bank’s data, from 49 percent in 1998; in the same period, according to government statistics, extreme poverty diminished to 6 percent from 21 percent.
Commentary: According to the United Nations document quoted in the letter, see page 43, Venezuela has a higher poverty rate, close to 30%, than Peru, Costa Rica, Uruguay and Argentina, in spite of its enormous income. Economic equality, as claimed in “Mr.Maduro’s letter , means that all Venezuelans, the poor and the middle class, now lack the most essential goods, including toilet paper. Recently a rationing system was introduced, almost identical to the Cuban and the Chilean (Allende), rationing systems. For a country with such a huge income rationing is inexplicable.
We have created flagship universal health care and education programs, free to our citizens nationwide. We have achieved these feats in large part by using revenue from Venezuelan oil.
Comment: Liar. Education and health services have always been free in Venezuela, not created by this regime. Today they are extremely poor and getting worse, as documented by medical organizations and educators. Education is mixed with indoctrination, while hospitals lack most of the most basic medicines and services.
While our social policies have improved citizens’ lives over all, the government has also confronted serious economic challenges in the past 16 months, including inflation and shortages of basic goods. We continue to find solutions through measures like our new market-based foreign exchange system, which is designed to reduce the black market exchange rate. And we are monitoring businesses to ensure they are not gouging consumers or hoarding products. Venezuela has also struggled with a high crime rate. We are addressing this by building a new national police force, strengthening community-police cooperation and revamping our prison system.
Comment: Exchange controls have been the source of enormous corruption, as admitted by Minister Jorge Giordani and former president of the Central Bank, Edmeé Betancourt. They say that up to $25 billion have been stolen by fraudulent importers combined with government officers. Venezuelan assassination and kidnapping rates are one of the three or four highest in the world and many of the crimes and kidnappings are committed by the regime’s police forces.
Since 1998, the movement founded by Hugo Chávez has won more than a dozen presidential, parliamentary and local elections through an electoral process that former American President Jimmy Carter has called “the best in the world.” Recently, the United Socialist Party received an overwhelming mandate in mayoral elections in December 2013, winning 255 out of 337 municipalities.
Commentary: The electoral system is controlled by the regime and 4 or its 5 Directors are unconditionally pro-government. Transparency is minimal. In Venezuela Carter is a bad word, because of his biased, pro-regime posture. Has the Carter Center received money from the Venezuelan regime?
Popular participation in politics in Venezuela has increased dramatically over the past decade. As a former union organizer, I believe profoundly in the right to association and in the civic duty to ensure that justice prevails by voicing legitimate concerns through peaceful assembly and protest.
Commentary: Mr. Maduro was a bus driver for the Caracas Metro system, with a dismal work record, as documented. He was reprimanded continuously by his superiors and suspended from work due to frequent absences. His statement about believing in assembly and protests is very cynical, as amply documented by the barbarous repression of the regime against Venezuelan protesters.
The claims that Venezuela has a deficient democracy and that current protests represent mainstream sentiment are belied by the facts. The antigovernment protests are being carried out by people in the wealthier segments of society who seek to reverse the gains of the democratic process that have benefited the vast majority of the people.
Comment: Liar. Anyone who sees the abundant graphic material of the protests will see that those in the streets belong to all social strata. Middle class prevails, yes, because middle class is generally more conscious of their civic rights and have been the hardest hit by the regime. Poor neighborhoods in Caracas are under the control of urban terrorists that the regime has armed and called “the best defenders of the revolution”.
Antigovernment protesters have physically attacked and damaged health care clinics, burned down a university in Táchira State and thrown Molotov cocktails and rocks at buses. They have also targeted other public institutions by throwing rocks and torches at the offices of the Supreme Court, the public telephone company CANTV and the attorney general’s office. These violent actions have caused many millions of dollars’ worth of damage. This is why the protests have received no support in poor and working-class neighborhoods.
Comments: the facts do not support this claim. There has been violence from both sides. The dead and wounded have mostly been from the camp of the protesters. Mr. Maduro believes that he can make his case just by writing an op-ed in the NYT while daily events tell us the very opposite.
The protesters have a single goal: the unconstitutional ouster of the democratically elected government. Antigovernment leaders made this clear when they started the campaign in January, vowing to create chaos in the streets. Those with legitimate criticisms of economic conditions or the crime rate are being exploited by protest leaders with a violent, antidemocratic agenda.
Comment: Venezuela is today under a state of terror. The rule of Law does not exist, according to a report by the Alliance for Global Justice, see: http://worldjusticeproject.org/sites/default/files/files/wjp_rule_of_law_index_2014_report.pdf . What the protesters demand is rule of law. The protests are constitutional. The repression is not. Most of the victims belong to the camp of the protesters and this is well documented.
The letter is very cynical. I challenge the Maduro regime to a debate in neutral ground where we will prove beyond any doubt that the regime is illegitimate, both in origin and in exercise, brutal, anti-democratic, corrupt and inept