Defending Venezuelan Domestic Policy

Counter-attack on the U.S. media as they ratchet up campaign against Venezuela
By Les Blough, Editor
Feb 15, 2007, 13:31

The United States corporate television and newspaper media continue to ratchet up their daily barrage against the people and government of Venezuela. In the last two weeks, they have been attacking Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela over the recent Enabling Law, passed by the National Assembly on January 31, 2007. These attacks follow a formula, using perjurative innuendo, inflammatory language, half truths and outright lies. We say enough! Axis of Logic has taken a close look at one such corporate media attack, authored by one Brian Ellsworth (Reuters) and published in the Washington Post on February 13, 2007. We have dissected Ellsworth’s statements under the bright light of the facts about the new Enabling Law and it’s direct impact on the private corporations involved. Our factual analysis is contained within the Reuter’s article below.

Venezuela’s Chavez sets fast nationalization pace
By Brian Ellsworth
Tuesday, February 13, 2007; 7:12 PM

Ellsworth: “CARACAS – Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is setting a faster than expected pace in his nationalization drive toward self-styled socialism, striking three takeover deals that push out U.S. firms in about a month.”

Axis of Logic: The corporate media is well-known now for it’s choice of negative terms to tilt the reader’s impressions about Venezuela and to create polarization beween U.S. citizens and the Venezuelan people. Venezuelan socialism is not “self-styled” as Ellsworth chooses to describe it. This is journalism speak. The form Venezuelan socialism will take will be decided by mass participation by the people in seminars and meetings. For example, seminars are now scheduled in Caracas and Valencia for Feb 15 to get the ball rolling. Chávez has stated that the economy will be mixed but all strategic industries – telecommunications, electricity, gas, oil, steel etc. will be taken over by the state and run in tandem with and by the workers. Ellsworth’s phrase “[to] push out U.S. firms in about a month” also suggests that Venezuelan socialism is primarily an affront to the U.S. rather than a new system designed to empower the working class in Venezuela and to strengthen the Venezuelan economy.

Ellsworth: “Chavez, an ally of Cuba who is vehemently opposed to what he sees as U.S. imperialism, is boosting state involvement in Venezuela, the No. 4 supplier of oil to the United States, as he consolidates power after a landslide re-election last year.”

Axis of Logic: Introducing Chávez as “an ally of Cuba” fits well with the tired, old charge that President Chávez is “turning Venezuela into another Cuba”. We’ve heard it over and over from the U.S.-backed wealthy minority during our visits to the country. It also reinforces the red-baiting indoctrination Washington and its corporate media have rained down on the population here for decades. This reference to Cuba is gratuitous on its face and has absolutely nothing to do with the subject of Ellsworth’s article. He writes that Chávez “consolidates power” following his “landslide re-election”. If he had read the new Enabling Law, he would have understood how the law consolidates power to the people and away from the private corporations.

Ellsworth: “Venezuelan authorities said on Tuesday they would buy the assets of U.S. power company CMS for $106 million, a day after cutting a similar deal with telecom giant Verizon for $572 million.

“Last week the government signed an accord to buy the holdings of U.S.-based global power generation firm AES Corp. for $750 million despite analysts’ predictions of protracted takeover battles.

” ‘The government has showed it’s clearly willing to move at a particularly fast pace to deliver on promises,’ said Patrick Esteruelas, an analyst with the Eurasia Group.”

The deals came two weeks after Chavez received special powers to rule by decree and five weeks after he vowed to nationalize the telecommunications and power utilities.

Axis of Logic: Ellsworth’s reference to Chavez term “Rule by decree” is one that has been adopted uniformly in the corporate media’s portrayal of the Enabling Law and is totally misleading. Under the Enabling Law, Chávez can pass laws before and after constitutional reform scheduled for the second half of this year. The changes to the 1999 constitution will be voted on by the 16 million Venezuelans in the electoral roll. Rule by decree implies that he can decree people to be taken into custody, control the courts and do whatever he wants. The President is restricted by the Constitution as it stands now. The Venezuelan constitution provides for the Enabling Law and proscribes that the 5 branches of government** are separate, each integrating participation of the people. Any law passed by presidential decree can be challenged under Article 74 of the Constitution where any individual or group can organize a signature collection of 5% of the electoral roll and call a national referendum to derogate the law. This information is conveniently omitted by Ellsworth.

Read the rest here.

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