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Venezuelan official: No spinning is necessary By Bernardo Alvarez

San Antonio Express News
Letters to the Editor
Venezuelan official: No spinning is necessary
Bernardo Alvarez

Though Jonathan Gurwitz claims that I am good at spin, there's little I have to spin about Venezuela. The facts speak for themselves. ("Ch?vez envoy is skilled in spin," July 15).
Democracy continues to flourish in Venezuela. An independent survey conducted late last year found that of 17 regional neighbors, Venezuelans were second-most likely to refer to their country as "totally democratic."
Moreover, in December 2006, President Hugo Ch?vez was re-elected with 63 percent of the vote amidst 75 percent voter turnout ? granting him the highest proportion of votes of any Venezuelan president in modern history. The economy is currently in its fourth consecutive year of growth, and the country's innovative social programs led to a decrease in poverty from 40 percent in 2005 to 30 percent in 2006.
No private property in Venezuela has been expropriated. Unused lands have been claimed for purposes of economic development, with full compensation granted to the owners. Nationalizations have focused on strategic industries, and have been accompanied by full payment of the value bought from private holders.
Venezuela in no way turns a blind eye toward, much less encourages any form of, terrorism. In fact, the very purchases of Russian weapons Gurwitz criticizes are for the express purpose of securing Venezuela's borders, patrolling its waters and fighting organized criminals and terrorists.
I have no need for spin, much less the "charm offensive" Gurwitz mentions. All I try to do is combat the misunderstandings and half-truths that often dominate the discussion on Venezuela and its relations with the U.S. As Gurwitz's writing indicates, they are pervasive.
I wish Mr. Gurwitz had taken the opportunity of my visit to ask the questions about issues that seem to concern him.

Bernardo Alvarez is the ambassador of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in the United States.

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