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Don't Demonize Venezuela

The Washington Post
Letters to the Editor
Don't Demonize Venezuela
Wednesday, August 22, 2007; A16

The proposed reforms were introduced by President Hugo Ch?vez, will be debated by the National Assembly and will be voted on by the Venezuelan people in a referendum. Though The Post claimed that the proposed reforms are a "power grab," it is the Venezuelan people -- not Mr. Ch?vez -- who will ultimately decide whether the reforms are implemented or not.

The Post misleadingly described the proposed abolition of presidential term limits as a threat to democracy.

It is not.

While the reform would allow a president to be elected as many times as the Venezuelan people chose, the constitution would still allow for the use of a recall referendum to end a president's term.

The Post's criticism of Venezuela's "21st-century socialism" purposely ignored what have been Venezuela's undeniable successes -- increases in democratic participation and satisfaction; three years of consecutive and record-high economic growth and diversification; and a drop in poverty of 12.3 percentage points from 1999 to 2005. Moreover, the country's new communal councils -- made up of locally elected officials -- have empowered individuals and communities to better identify and resolve their problems.

The Post may not like these facts, but it should not ignore them. By doing so, it demonizes the Venezuelan people and further promotes the type of thinking that has led to the destructive policy of regime change around the world.

Embassy of Venezuela

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