**** Partners in character assassination
Three weeks ago Foreign Policy published a long article on Venezuelan imprisoned fighter for democracy, Leopoldo Lopez, see: http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/07/27/the-making-of-leopoldo-lopez-democratic-venezuela-opposition/ , which had been at least one year in the makings, thus giving Foreign Policy ample time to check facts and to think about the motivations behind this piece financed by the Nation Institute. The publication of this article has done Leopoldo Lopez great harm since it contributes to validate the notion that his imprisonment is justified. He has already been in prison for over 18 months, without a firm accusation being made, while former Latin American presidents, the United Nations, the European Union, legislative bodies of democratic nations and human right activists from all over the world, including Desmond Tutu and Noah Chomsky, are demanding his freedom.
What can explain this unfortunate decision by a publication that has maintained high standards for a long time?
I have sent four messages to Foreign Policy during the last two weeks regarding this case, including a letter to the editor. Up to this moment, 5 a.m. Saturday August 22, 2015, the letter has not been properly acknowledged, much less published. In this letter I say:
Editor, Foreign Policy
I never thought possible Foreign Policy would lower their standards to the extent of publishing this attempted hatchet job on Leopoldo Lopez. From what I hear this piece was about one year in the makings, ample time for Foreign Policy to check facts.
The article, obviously made to order, inexplicably dedicates much space to a discussion of the Venezuelan events of April 2002, which led to the brief ousting of Hugo Chavez from the presidency, called by some a coup and by others a magnificent example of a popular rebellion against a tyrant. I say inexplicably because the attempts at showing Leopoldo Lopez as a main instigator and active participant in these events have been totally discredited by numerous testimonies. In his support of his assertions the author of this piece can only offer the undocumented testimony of a man with zero credibility, Ramón Rodriguez Chacín, Hugo Chavez’s liaison with the FARC and one of the most corrupt members of the Chavez/Maduro regime. In its efforts to implicate Leopoldo Lopez in these events the paper fails to mention that Lucas Rincon, the General of the Army who actually requested and obtained Hugo Chavez resignation, is still today a member of the regime, as Venezuelan Ambassador to Portugal. Go figure!
Leopoldo Lopez has been in prison for some 18 months under treatment that represents a clear violation of his human rights. The paper published by Foreign Policy attempts to justify this imprisonment and should be weighed against the testimonies of the U.N, the European Union, Desmond Tutu, Noah Chomsky, former Latin American presidents and many other personalities in Venezuela and abroad who have exposed Lopez’s trial as a farce and a crime against civilization. To date Leopoldo Lopez has not been charged with any crime in connection with the events of February 2014, other than “utilizing subliminal messages” to incite people to violence.
I find the ethical level of the article very low, referring to Leopoldo’s wife, Lilian Tintori, in pejorative, machista terms and suggesting that Leopoldo’s social status somehow makes it impossible for him to show social solidarity. This is language typically used by individuals and groups who sacrifice facts and fairness to resentment rooted in political ideology. The paper, after all, is said to be financed by one or two such groups.
It is sad that Foreign Policy has decided to publish this article without doing a proper job of (1), ascertaining motives and, (2), checking facts,
In parallel I commented in my blog on the Nation Institute’s financing of this hatchet job, see: http://www.lasarmasdecoronel.blogspot.com/2015/08/the-nation-institute-is-against.html . In that post I say that “r to prove “how the Obama Administration’s proposed drug enforcement and security policies in El Salvador — and across Latin America — represent an attempt by the U.S. to assert new influence through old means: militarization”, see:http://www.robertolovato.com/
This candid admission on the pre-established conclusions of the paper shows that impartial investigation might not be Lovato’s strong point.
Lovato is a lucky man who seemingly goes from grant to grant and from funding to funding obtained from “progressive” organizations, to write ideologically charged pieces about the wonders of dictatorial regimes, such as the piece he wrote for the Nation Institute about “the Venezuelan neo-fascist creeps”, see : http://www.thenation.com/article/why-media-are-giving-free-pass-venezuelas-neo-fascist-creeps/.
Lovato’s latest work, financed by the Nation Institute and published by Foreign Policy is a disgraceful attempt at linking Leopoldo Lopez, the Venezuelan democratic leader who has been in prison for the last 18 months, with terrorist acts, a claim made by the Venezuelan regime that the rest of the world almost unanimously denies.
About The Nation Institute
When reading a book published by the Nation Institute, “Wages of Rebellion” by Chris Hedges I ran into a paragraph, pages 18,19 that said: “Revolutions can be faux revolutions when , through the careful manipulation of counterrevolutionary forces, they demand not reform but the restoration of retrograde power elites”. As an example of such faux revolutions the author mentions the 2014 protests in Venezuela, where, in his view, “street action was used with western backing to target elected governments in the interest of elites”. According to this author the protesters did not represent democracy or social justice since Venezuela was an established democracy. In the same book, page 145, Cuban exile groups are placed in the same category of the Klux Klux Klan.
Of course, this could be just a coincidence but the Nation Institute seems to have decided that Leopoldo Lopez should be targeted and deserves to be in prison. Its financing of Lovato’s piece on Lopez, which was over a year in the makings, came via their Investigative Fund, see:
It is not difficult to notice the strong political bias in the works financed by this fund. Five of the first six works listed in the site as financed by the Institute are furious attacks against the World Bank, with titles such as: “Rights Denied, new evidence ties the World Bank to human rights violations in Ethiopia”, “The Uncounted”, how a power plant backed by the World Bank threatens a way of life. Or “Making Partnerships work”: How power plants, dams and other big projects bankrolled by the World Bank Group can harm people and the environment.
It would seem that the Nation Institute has pet targets. The World Bank is one. Could the democratic Venezuelan opposition be another? Could the Nation Institute be discreetly supporting the abusive and dictatorial Venezuelan regime, in the name of democracy and social justice? It certainly looks like it.
Where did Lovato’s money come from?
How did Lovato get his funding from the Nation Institute? The requisites to obtain money from the Institute’s investigative fund include an evaluation of:
· What is new and enterprising about the investigation
· How will the author approach his, her reporting
· What will be the story’s potential impact
· What publication is interested in publishing it
We wonder what Lovato said to the Nation Institute in answer to these questions in order to receive the funding he was looking for. The report could be called enterprising only in the sense that it attempts to justify Leopoldo Lopez’s unjust prison and it seems to validate the dictatorial and corrupt regime of Venezuela. The report clearly was written to justify the imprisonment of the democratic leader. The story’s potential impact could only be to support the notion that the Venezuelan regime represents the “good guys” and Leopoldo Lopez the “bad guy”. And, as to what publication was interested in publishing it, we doubt that Lovato could have found his way unaided into the pages of Foreign Policy. Who spoke on his behalf?
Frankly, this looks like a job paid for by the corrupt Venezuelan regime through its Washington based agents. I sent an email to Ms. Esther Kaplan, the Editor of the Nation Institute’s Investigative Fund asking her about this, but she never answered.
A working hypothesis
Since Lovato’s piece does not seem to fit the requirements listed by the Institute for publication, a possibility exists that financing for Lovato might have come from a third party, the Nation Institute only serving as the institutional vehicle. If this was the case it would not speak well of this organization because they receive contributions from many legitimate sources, including the Lear family, the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation, the Ford Foundation and many individual, prestigious donors. Would donors such as these be interested in having this grotesque piece published in Foreign Policy? I doubt it.
The evidence at hand suggests that the Nation Institute is actively working against Venezuelan democracy, as a result of their ideological bias. It is sad to see them siding with an abusive and corrupt regime.
The publication of this piece in Foreign Policy does great harm to the prestige this publication has had in the past. There is no plausible explanation for their publication of the piece and for their apparent reluctance to publish letters that criticize and refute Lovato’s piece. Willingly or unwillingly, Foreign Policy has contributed to extend indefinitely the imprisonment of Leopoldo Lopez.
Anyone can make a mistake. What is difficult to understand and should place Foreign Policy under severe scrutiny is its mediocre journalistic performance regarding Mr. Lovato’s infamous piece.