Editorials published in the Washington Post and the Washington Times on February 12th and 13th respectively show deep disdain for the Venezuelan people. Both editorials belittle Venezuelan citizens by portraying them as sheep unable to act unless motivated by bribery or punishment, incapable of judging whether or not it is in their interest to approve an amendment that would allow public officials to run for reelection for consecutive terms.
Faced with a lack of valid arguments with which to discredit a proposal that is of a democratic nature, the Washington Post and the Washington Times have opted for subterfuge in order to disqualify the very real possibility that the people may vote in favor of approving the proposal. For having dealt such an insult to the Venezuelan people, these newspapers must at a minimum offer an apology.
Particularly shameful is the Washington Post's use of the deplorable yet isolated vandalism of a Caracas synagogue on January 30th. It attempts to ignore the swift and decisive condemnation of that repugnant act by the government of Venezuela, the ongoing investigation into the crime (those responsible have already been detained and facing due process), and subsequent statements by representatives of the Jewish community in Venezuela expressing satisfaction with the support we offered. The Post exposes its true intentions by going so far as to use this incident as evidence of a supposed campaign of "intimidation" against some groups that simply does not exist in Venezuela. These intentions are made even more clear by the fact that, the same day the Post editorial was published, the President of the Israelite Association of Venezuela Elias Farache, and I, as Minister of Foreign Relations, held a joint press conference at the synagogue. On this occasion, the Jewish leader expressed his appreciation for the swift action taken by the Venezuelan government not just to condemn the crimes, but also to conduct an investigation and prosecute those responsible.
The Post ignores the reality that this unfortunate incident has served to bring closer the Venezuelan government and the Jewish community. This was the sentiment expressed in a letter sent to me by Mr. Farache in which he emphasized his recognition of the positive intervention by Venezuelan officials and “the words of the President of the Republic that offered an absolute and total condemnation of the attack we suffered,” which he called "a message of peace and tranquility for our congregation." It must also be said that Mr. Farache, on behalf of the community he represents, acknowledged the work of the country’s Corps of Penal and Criminal Investigations.
It is truly lamentable that the Washington Post and the Washington Times maintain a stubborn commitment to spreading all manner of lies and distortions about the reality of Venezuela. Theirs is a campaign that drives them even to ignore the fact that the political opposition in Venezuela controls more than 70 percent of the broadcast spectrum and the majority of newspapers throughout the country. This is just one more example of the shameless and continued campaign against my country.
As much as they may try to obscure the truth, no one can in good faith deny the advances made by the Venezuelan people over the last ten years. I admit that we have challenges ahead, but it is callous to discredit our progress. International organizations including the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America have recognized that we now have the lowest rate of socioeconomic inequality in the entire region, and one of its highest rates of human development. This fact alone contradicts the irresponsible portrayal of Venezuelans provided by these newspapers.
The fictional campaign against our brothers in the Jewish community has now been fabricated and used against us. This, however, is nothing more than the continuation of a very real campaign propagated against a government that represents an alternative to the backwardness brought about by the savage capitalism that is beginning to show its true rottenness. It is a campaign designed to discredit the good example of the achievements made by the Bolivarian Revolution in the last ten years, in a peaceful and democratic manner.
Minister of Popular Power for Foreign Relations
Caracas, February 13th, 2009