Saturday, June 17, 2006


Wall Street Journal Gives Hugo Chavez A Mixed Review - by Stephen Lendman

In contrast to its one-sided stance on Hugo Chavez, the June 16 Wall Street Journal had an interesting article on US based activists in Boston, New York, San Diego, Miami, Cincinnati and other cities around the country forming Bolivarian Circles and other groups supporting the Chavez government. But it couldn't do it without taking its usual swipe at the Venezuelan leader beginning with the front page article's title: Move Over Che: Chavez Is New Icon of Radical Chic. That's WSJ language intending to demean in its headline rather than use a proper one to reflect what their story was about.

It then used its opening paragraph (which many readers never go beyond) to convey a flavor of invective before getting into the heart of a story worth telling but not without some slaps at Chavez interspersed along the way. It referred to the president's "fiery" rhetoric (never mentioning its honesty) saying it wins him few friends in Washington while never explaining the one place on earth Hugo Chavez will never have friends in high places is in the nation's capitol. It also accuses Chavez of becoming a "revolutionary hero nearly on a par with Che Guevara and Fidel Castro," that he uses his nation's oil riches to "prop up Mr. Castro's regime," and that "His dream is to spread the Venezuelan brand of socialism across Latin America."

Journal writers are masters of half-truths and distortion that goes along the the paper's policy of being hostile to any government not in line with the neoliberal Washington Consensus (wreaking havoc wherever it spreads) and not fully subservient to US wishes. Nothing in their article explains that the Bolivarian Revolution is a true participatory democracy where the people have a say in how the country is governed; that the lives of the majority poor have benefitted enormously by an impressive array of essential social programs and services unimaginable in the US; that Hugo Chavez aids his neighbors (Castro included who aids Venezuela in return) and doesn't threaten war or sanctions against them; has no secret prisons; no illegal political prisoners or illegal detentions; doesn't practice torture; doesn't ethnically cleanse neighborhoods to aid corporate developers; and never suspended the constitution even after a coup d'etat, mass street riots and a crippling US-instigated oil lockout and shutdown. It's even working to clean up and change a many decade-long legacy and systemic climate of corruption and inefficient state bureaucracy and is making slow progress against great odds that would challenge any leader.

When it comes to reporting even a good story about Hugo Chavez, the Journal has to ruin it by taking their usual jabs and getting their facts wrong in the process. It went on to claim a "darker side" in the Bolivarian circles within Venezuela stating they help the "government identify opponents, who are then denied remedial education and other government services." It reported this was what two US academics found in a study they conducted that may have been funded by the Bush administration to report results in line with its own policy and rhetoric. Bush officials also may have bought off some so-called "Human rights groups" which the Journal writer says claim Chavez is "dangerously centralizing (his) power, emasculating Venezuela's judiciary and threatening press freedom." It sounds more like those groups were misquoted and are talking instead about what's happening inside the US as the Bush administration consolidates its power, is systematically stripping away sacred constitutional freedoms and is moving the country dangerously closer to a full-blown police state. Hugo Chavez is doing just the opposite in Venezuela, but you won't learn that on the pages of the Wall Street Journal or from their so-called sources.

Nonetheless, the Journal reported an inspiring story of ordinary US citizens wanting to spread the message of what, if fact, is happening in Venezuela. It's heartening to learn about groups forming around the country that hopefully may grow in size and whose activities may be able to counter the hostile commentary from high level US officials and the complicit and stenographic corporate media. It's quite surprising to read on the front page of the WSJ a quote many in the US would agree with, but we'd never expect to see it in print in any major US newspaper. It's by a Chavez supporter in Olympia, WA who says "My political belief is that the US is a horrendous empire that needs to end." Another supporter said he formed an Oregon Bolivarian Circle because of his outrage over the 2002 US led failed coup against the Venezuelan leader. He went on to explain he and his Venezuelan-born wife make annual trips to the country and are impressed by Chavez's efforts to provide (free) health care and education for the poor (who never had it before he was elected). He then added that he "couldn't understand why the US press didn't see it his way," so he and others in his Circle began to sponsor pro-Chavez movies, college lectures and rallies. This gentleman actually appeared on one of President Chavez's five hour Sunday call-in television programs "Alo Presidente" and was called "brother" by the president.

The Journal went on to report on other groups including one in Philadelphia that has produced three pro-Chavez videos including one about supportive oil workers who helped the state-owned oil company keep operating despite a crippling anti-Chavez strike that began in December, 2002. It also explained that the US based groups get no funding from the Venezuelan government and instead operate strictly on their own and do it to "help us counteract the campaign that there isn't freedom of expression in Venezuela," according to the country's US ambassador Bernado Alverez.

Overall, the Journal today was unusual in that it was both in and out of character in the way it reports on the Chavez government. On the one hand, it showed Hugo Chavez has loyal supporters inside the US working to spread the truth about his government and Bolivarian Revolution. But at the same time, the flavor of invective was strong, in line with the Journal's usual one-sided stance, and it ended up spoiling what otherwise would have been a fine effort. Wouldn't it be nice if one day the WSJ doffed its empire-friendly garb and told it like it is, fully and honestly. Apparently that's too much to expect from the newspaper of record for corporate America that never lets the truth get in the way of their one-sided support for the US empire and interests of capital. In spite of it, the spirit of the glorious Bolivarian Revolution is uplifting and inspiring. It's powerful, spreading and in the end won't be derailed by Journal writers or other enemies of those on the side of social equity and justice.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at Also visit his blog site at


Blogger Mickslam said...

Hey Steve,

I think you might be confusing the WSJ editorial page with its usually decent to great reporting. I was surprised to see this article so soon after reading your opus on Argentia and Chavez last week.

11:45 AM  
Blogger American Crusader said...

Can a good Muslim be a good American?

I sent that question to a friend who worked in Saudi Arabia for 20 years.

The following is his reply:

Theologically - no. Because his allegiance is to Allah, the moon god of Arabia.

Religiously - no. Because no other religion is accepted by his Allah except Islam (Quran, 2:256)

Scripturally - no. Because his allegiance is to the five pillars of Islam and the Quran (Koran).

Geographically - no. Because his allegiance is to Mecca, to which he turns in prayer five times a day.

Socially - no. Because his allegiance to Islam forbids him to make friends with Christians or Jews.

Politically - no. Because he must submit to the mullah (spiritual leaders), who teach annihilation of Israel and Destruction of America, the great Satan.

Domestically - no. Because he is instructed to marry four women and beat and scourge his wife when she disobeys him (Quran 4:34).

Intellectually - no. Because he cannot accept the American Constitution since it is based on Biblical principles and he believes the Bible to be corrupt.

Philosophically - no. Because Islam, Muhammad, and the Quran do not allow freedom of religion and expression. Democracy and Islam cannot co-exist.

Every Muslim government is either dictatorial or autocratic.

Spiritually - no. Because when we declare "one nation under God," the Christian's God is loving and kind, while Allah is NEVER referred to as heavenly father, nor is he ever called love in The Quran's 99 excellent names.

Therefore after much study and deliberation.... perhaps we should be very suspicious of ALL MUSLIMS in this country. They obviously cannot be both "good" Muslims and good Americans. Call it what you wish.... it's still the truth.

6:28 AM  
Blogger dilbert_g said...

American Crusader
What a doof.
Your anti-Muslim post on a topic not even about Islam or Arab issues. Just a drive-by dropoff. And it's not even original, just some copy-and-paste crap you got in your inbox. Yuk Yuk.

We know, the Pentagon actually pays people to blog like you do, attacking 'subversive bloggers' and post annoying messages.

I like SOME conservatives, people with a brain like Devvy and Lew Rockwell, and with some guts to face reality. Our capitalist paradise is quickly becoming a Stalinist Corporate State and you want to paste love notes for the Cheka.
The truth being Washington is at war with America.
Muslims are NOT at war with America. And Washington is not even at war with Al-Qaeda --- since they got the best lawyers to defend them.

If James Baker can get total diplomatic immunity for Saudi Royals who are protected from 'discovery' over 9-11, and Michael Chertoff can get Dr. Elamir off scot free after he was accused of funding Al-Qaeda with money embezzled from Medicare --- then surely YOU can emulate US leaders and learn to love Muslims as much as they do. Except, unlike the government, DON'T start loving Al-Qaeda.

Per your comments, good Christians should place God above State. Good Americans should also place the Constitution above Party and propaganda. I have old movies from the 40's when "Mohammedans" were welcomed by Americans, but JEWS were hated. Yours is the same silly crap, but switched for the current fad. In 2 years, if it's popular to love Muslims and hate Jews, you'll be blogging on "why Jews can't be good Americans" because you're just ignorant.

You even give Christians and Jews a bad name, because I know lots of good Christians and Jews who get along just fine with lots of Muslims, including me. So you make all Christians look like stupid, un-Christian bigots. People don't have a problem -- it's governments -- and the talking heads who spew for them.

I'm not gonna bother with the rest.

1:23 AM  

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