The Huff Post Blog Dan Kovalik  Human and labor rights lawyer

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The U.S. media, echoing the sentiments of the U.S. government, is openly encouraging violent regime change in Venezuela. An emblematic story from yesterday was aired in what is considered a “liberal” media source, National Public Radio (NPR). In short, this piece featured claims of Venezuela at the precipice of “economic collapse,” and spoke in glowing terms of the opposition’s hopes for a “coup” to overthrow President Maduro. This type of reporting is not only irresponsible, but it is deeply misinformed.

While the U.S. government and media have been portraying Venezuela as a basket case ever since Hugo Chavez took office in 1999, this is far from the truth. Indeed, if we look at the UN’s Human Development Index, which measures several key indicators of the health of a country’s citizenry (e.g., life expectancy, income, education, equality), we see that Venezuela has actually experienced a steady growth in such human development indicators since Chavez took office with a total Human Rights Index score of .662 in 2000, and rising to .748 in 2012. See, Table 2 at p. 149 of the UN Report. Significantly, Venezuela had a huge relative increase in this index during that time, jumping nine (9) rankings in the HDI chart from 80 to number 71 in the world.

If we compare this to Venezuela’s neighbor, and chief U.S. ally in this hemisphere, Colombia, that country has been stuck at position 91 in the world during that time same time period. Moreover, in terms of human rights, there is no comparison between these two countries with Colombia, one the largest recipients of U.S. military support in the world, having the dubious distinction of leading the world in forced disappearances at 50,000 and internally displaced peoples at over 5 million.

Moreover, it is the very poor and those of darker skin tone who have benefited most from the improvements since the election of Hugo Chavez, and it is they – by the way, the vast majority of the Venezuelan population — who support Chavez and his successor the most. Of course, the U.S. government and its compliant media openly side with the white, wealthy elite – such as Kenyon and Harvard trained right wing leader Leopoldo Lopez — against Venezuela’s poor in their current cheer leading for the opposition. Again, the NPR story is notable in this regard.

Without irony, the media fulminates about Venezuela’s alleged lack of democracy (again, ignoring Colombia’s death squad violence against its own population) to justify its open support of Venezuela’s elite opposition. However, as Chilean writer Pedro Santander recently put it so well:

Regarding the supposed “democratic deficit of the Venezuelan regime”, the facts speak for themselves. Since 1998 there have been four national plebiscites, four presidential elections, and eleven parliamentary, regional, and municipal elections. Venezuela is the Latin American country with the highest number of elections and it also has an automatic electoral system (much more modern than Chile’s one), described by Jimmy Carter, who has observed 92 elections in all continents, as “the best system in the world”.

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