Forest Friends rely on your generous donation to continue our work.
How can you help today ?


Written in Studies: 11/18/11, 02:43:44 by jonathan  | Print article  | View all categories.

This is a letter which I sent to the IT on the 15/11/11. I don't expect that it will be published.
The IT's coverage of Latin America has recently degenerated to name calling. There have been several negative articles, mainly on or concerning the progressive governments. I have yet to read something positive on Venezuela, despite the many good things happening there. Maybe it's sour grapes. If you can, please write to the editor any time you come across this kind of material.
Robert Navan


In your editorial “Ortega's return” (IT. 09/11/11) which comments on the landslide re-election, for a third time of Daniel Ortega as president of Nicaragua, amongst several snide remarks about the Nicaraguan electorate's choice, you use the term “regional pariah” to describe  President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.
Apart from the racist and caste connotations of the word “pariah” it's general definition seems to be an outcast , a person or animal that is generally despised or avoided. This description of President Chavez, is completely at odds with how he is seen both in Venezuela and Latin America. Several independent Latin American polls have put him as either the most respected or among the top three most respected leaders on that continent. In fact, in October of this year Chavez's popularity amongst Venezuelans was 58.9%, according to independent but opposition leaning poll company Datanalisis. This view is not, of course shared in the US. In the recently released poll from independent Chilean polling firm Latinobarómetro, Venezuela was consistently ranked in the top half of the table of Latin American countries for satisfaction with the functioning of democracy, transparency of the state, equality and fair wealth distribution . Unfortunately the countries with the strongest links to the US, such as Colombia, Honduras and Mexico are all perceived, even by their own populations to be less democratic, less fair and more abusive of human rights.
On what grounds then does the Irish Times consider the word “pariah” to be an accurate description
of President Chavez?  We as a country are celebrating the election of Michael D Higgins (with a similar mandate to that of Hugo Chavez).  Latin America was one of the areas in the world where our new President took a keen interest in human rights issues and supported the democratic aspirations of countries such as El Salvador, Chile and Nicaragua.  As a politician Michael D would doubtless have been supportive of the huge advances in healthcare, education, women's rights and many other areas that have been the hallmark of the Chavez years in office.
Is it not now time for the Irish Times to reflect the views of  the populations of Latin American countries rather than that of Washington ?

Yours etc,