February 18, 2003


We interrupt this essay series to attack Naomi Klein, of NO LOGO fame, who in a remarkably ill-considered piece in The Guardian supports the Contents Law and obliquely calls for Venezuela’s private broadcasters to be shut down. I’m amazed at the way parts of the antiglobaloization crowd have abandoned what I’d always thought of as baseline liberal values, like freedom of the press.

The facts in her essay are – and as a Venezuelan journalist, I’m ashamed to admit it – mostly right, but the conclusions she draws from them strike me as demential. Her lionization of Andrés Izarra, that insufferably self-pitying chavista martyr, is enough to work up anyone who knows anything about him into a fit of rage. More importantly, though, Klein glosses over a series of key fact in her piece, like the president’s outrageous and repeated attacks on the media, the systematic harassment of Venezuelan journalists, the threats too many of my colleagues keep getting simply for doing their jobs. Reading it, you’d never known about the government’s campaign of constant incitement to violence against anyone who dares question Chávez in the press. If you didn’t know anything else about the situation here – which is doubtlessly the case for most of Klein’s readers in The Guardian – you’d think Venezuela’s media moguls just sort of woke up one day and said “golly gee, it’s so much harder to exploit the working class with this guy in power, let’s topple him!”

It’s shameful.