Where was no way for the average Yankee to realize what a triumph for democracy the vote in Venezuela has been. Our embedded media has been blowing spitballs at Hugo Chavez since he came to power.
In one if the most disgraceful episodes in the history of the New York Times, it hailed the announcement of a coup that locked him up and kicked out the Constitution, the National Assembly and the Supreme Court. Its joy lasted less than two days, when an outpouring of the mostly poor majority turned things around.
Ever since, Washington and its henchmen have been trying to dump Chavez by other means.: boycotts, long strikes, sabotage of oil production and propaganda–they own most of the media. They figured that misery would wear out the resistance. And finally, a recall referendum looked appealing–a chance for everybody to vote No. They threw all they had into it, but finally began to realize they would lose.
Juan Forero of the Times blamed the rise in oil prices, which allowed Chavez to spend more on schools and health and land reform — dirty pool.
It was a signal defeat for a policy that says we will not tolerate any regime in the third world that talks back–that does not recognize the right of international capital to exploit their resources. That’s a fact well understood everywhere but in this country.
So, spread the word. We have a few referendums of our own coming up.
JOHN L. HESS is a former writer for the New York Times, a career he chronicles in his excellent new book My Times: a Memoir of Dissent. Hess is now a political commentator for WBAI.