Oct 9/05 - On paid rebuttals and false claims on fight on poverty: No Bernardo, China and Venezuela are "millions" of miles apart
PMBComment: in response to a Sep 20th Op-Ed by Jackson Diehl of the Washington Post ("Buying Support in Latin America"), Bernardo Alvarez felt duty bound to request from the folks of the Venezuela Information Office - the “gringo-staffed-ragtag-parallel-embassy” he has set up in D.C. – a response which the could send to the Post. Titled “Yes, Venezuela Is Reducing Poverty”, the rebuttal letter, which the paper duly published, is leaps ahead of pathetic, it actually demonstrates, beyond any doubt, the intellectual dearth of the sycophants Chávez pays to “represent” our country and the lack of integrity of the “lobbyists” they in turn hire to sell the “wonders” of a revolution that has done nothing but divide and marginalize our country.
Just one sentence illustrates my point and spares you having to link to the letter. The last sentence reads “
The answer is nothing, nada! And this is the point of Andres Oppenheimer’s latest column. Having recently returned from
Hugo Chávez deserves prize for economic bumbling
By Andres Oppenheimer
Sunday, October 09, 2005
|Somebody should create a new international award for economic incompetence -- which could be called the Lebon Prize, or Nobel spelled backward -- and give it to Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.
Whatever you think of his politics -- and he has some redeeming points, such as having given a voice to the large masses of poverty-ridden Venezuelans who were largely ignored by a corrupt political class -- Chávez can claim the dubious achievement of having increased
Indeed, since I disclosed in this column in March that
The INE, you may recall, said that poverty in
But now, other international organizations -- including the United Nations and the World Bank -- are painting a similar picture of
As strange as it sounds, they say poverty is rising in
Among the latest statistics:
• The United Nations Development Program's Human Development Report: 2005, a publication that ranks countries according to their life expectancy, literacy and per-capita income, downgraded Venezuela from 68th place last year to 75th place this year. U.N. economists say much of the decline was due to a drop in the country's per-capita income, which fell from $5,380 to $4,900 during the past two years, in part because of an opposition-led strike.
• The U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean said in its recent ''Millennium Development Goals'' report that extreme poverty in
• The World Bank's latest poverty figures, in turn, show that the percentage of Venezuelans living in poverty rose from 15 percent in 1990 to 33 percent in 1999, and that it has remained largely stable at that level since, despite the increase in the country's oil exports.
So why is it then that Chávez is so popular in
CHAVEZ WON REFERENDUM
Many opposition leaders say the polls are controlled by the government, or reflect widespread intimidation, and that Chávez won the 2004 referendum thanks to fraud.
But while it was definitely a fraudulent electoral process, in which the rules were bent to favor Chávez, there is no smoking gun yet to contradict
Chávez may still be ahead in opinion polls because, with a nearly eight-fold increase in his country's oil income, he is giving out tons of money in monthly cash bonuses for the poor, and in subsidized food for the working class through the government's popular Mercal supermarkets.
Sure, his fiery anti-capitalist rhetoric has caused massive capital flight, the closing of more than 7,000 private companies, hundreds of thousands of layoffs and higher poverty rates.
But it would be a mistake to conclude that growing poverty will hurt Chávez politically. On the contrary, the more the poor depend on his financial largess, the more political control he has over them. As long as our potential ''Lebon Prize'' winner is awash in petrodollars, poverty may even play in his favor.