The Washington Post gets it Wrong About Venezuela

By Larry Birns COHA Director; Frederick B. Mills, COHA Senior Fellow and Professor at Bowie State University; and Ronn Pineo, COHA Senior Fellow and Professor at Towson University

The Washington Post editorial, “Venezuela doesn’t deserve a seat on the UN Security Council,” combines ad hominem attack with misinformed smears. The Post’s views appear to have been formed by uncritically accepting all of the propaganda offered up by the right-wing opposition press in Venezuela.

It should be beneath the Post to denigrate the recently elected Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro, as an “economically illiterate former bus driver.” Despite his lack of training in economics, Maduro is right that Venezuela is facing what amounts to internal economic warfare, with business hoarding, currency fraud, and contraband trading. The economic policies of Maduro, and those of former President Hugo Chávez, have certainly been experimental, even trial and error, but these policies have also reduced poverty by half and expanded access to the social goods long denied to millions of ordinary Venezuelans. These are real gains in terms of human development that are all too easily dismissed by the Post.

The Post might have mentioned that some of the “economic pragmatists” it champions are precisely those whose ideologically driven bad advice sent the global economy in its recent free fall. Deregulation of the financial sector was an epical disaster, in the United States, in Latin America, and around the world, yet orthodox economic advisors continue to call for free market solutions to any and all economic problems. This is really bad advice, and people around Latin America realize it: three-quarters of the region is governed by left-wing governments, which appropriately see a larger role for the state in guiding their economic fortunes.

The Maduro administration faces serious economic challenges, and it is moving to address them. The present tiered currency exchange system is still conducive to a black market in U.S. dollars and the Venezuelan government is keenly aware that this system is in need of further reform. Venezuelan authorities are presently waging a stepped up battle against the flow of contraband. There also appears to be a consensus, on the left and on the right, that there is a need to diversify the productive base of the country and continue to step up agricultural production. The Post editorial has not taken into account Venezuela’s great debate over the scope and form of such reforms that has been recently taking place within the Bolivarian project; this debate includes the question of whether to introduce a number of market oriented measures, to stay the course towards more social control over the economy, or to implement a combination of these approaches.

The Post describes the “exit now” strategy of the ultra-right as having called for “peaceful street demonstrations under the slogan ‘the way out.’” This view is inaccurate. The hard-line right’s strategy has involved repeated violent attacks on state institutions, public transportation, and the symbols of Bolivarian social investment. So while there were peaceful opposition demonstrations, the ultra-right wing elements were not peaceful, not at the barricades they built, not when they shot at police and passersby, and not when they fired home-made mortars and tossed incendiary bombs. These actions are not mentioned by the Post editorial, perhaps because they do not play into the opposition’s preferred narrative. The Post refers to the 40 persons killed as though they were all victims of government security forces. The best available evidence, however, indicates that as many as five of the deaths were due to the actions of government forces; the Post fails to mention those killed and injured by the extremist elements of the opposition. Meanwhile, Maduro’s government has brought criminal charges against law enforcement officials who have been implicated in homicides.

Venezuela, the Post argues, does not deserve a seat at the United Nations Security Council. But, it actually does deserve a seat. Venezuela is a leader in today’s Latin America. Venezuela has wide backing in the region, due to the generous extension of its subsidized oil export program, benefitting many small, oil importing states in the Caribbean and beyond. Venezuela has been likewise generous in providing aid packages for health and education reforms in fellow Latin American states, including especially Bolivia and Ecuador. Better still, the aid does not come with nettlesome mandates, such as launching a war on coca production, or a forced march implementation of widespread economic deregulation. And this is why all the Latin American nations support putting Venezuela on the Security Council. The opposition of the Post to something that most Latin Americans see as a good idea, says rather too much about the blinkered outlook of the Post. The Post’s remaining readers will once again have to look elsewhere if they want to understand Venezuela and Latin America. We suggest they turn to

Please accept this article as a free contribution from COHA, but if re-posting, please afford authorial and institutional attribution. Exclusive rights can be negotiated. For additional news and analysis on Latin America, please go to: and Rights Action


9 thoughts on “The Washington Post gets it Wrong About Venezuela

  • September 24, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    Excellent opinion, we need to work together and respect our different points of view, keeping in mind, that only united in a multilateral forum, we can construct a better and more productive world.

    • September 25, 2014 at 10:53 pm

      Ada, have you ever been in Venezuela? Have you recently been in Venezuela? I imagine that the answer to my questions is No. Please do not make comments about what you don’t know. I am a Venezuelan woman and my family live in Venezuela and I just wish I could take my family out of that misery. Do you know that last year almost 25000 people were assessing in a Venezuela. Do you know that there isn’t disappears for the kids, or milk and food in the markets and that Venezuelan’s have to spend many hours in lines to be able to acquire food and all of this is because Chavez and now Maduro have destroyed everything and kill many, many people. Please of course that Venezuela do not deserve a place in the UN security .

  • September 25, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    Dar Larry:
    the “ultra right ” that according with you is protesting in Venezuela is comprised of university students that grew up with the chavismo. They are the victims of horrendous human right violations by your “successful system of government.
    The Chavez regime has been an economic and social disaster. Venezuela had received more money from oil revenues in the past decade than in its entire democratic history. Yet, today we have a collapsing economy, with high unemployment, poverty and death. 24,000 people died last year by delinquents armed by the government. The Venezuela that we are talking about, unless you know a different one, has a 67% inflation and has lost its middle class. I am wondering where are you getting your infomation from?

  • September 26, 2014 at 12:13 am

    Larry. I respect your opinion but do not understand how trying to justify a totalitarian regime and abusive with his people. Please visit Venezuela and find out the reality. Do not play with the truth of his readers. People do not have to eat in Venezuela and there is no freedom of expression.

  • September 26, 2014 at 3:34 pm


    As a Venezuelan suffering Maduro’s Regimen, I think we don’t deserve a seat on the UN Security Council, and we need help, especially from the US, to overthrow Maduro’s dictatorship. It is not the “right ring-wing opposition”, the true is that Maduro and his people are destroying Venezuela and our future.

    The economy was bad when Chavez died, but now it is worse with Maduro. When Chavez died the official exchange rate was: 6.5Bs/$ and the black market exchange rate was 14Bs/$: 215% more, now the official exchange rate is 10Bs/$ and the black market is 95Bs/$, 950% more. Few Venezuelans and companies get dollars at low exchange rate, the more corrupts are the one that get more dollars at the low exchange rate and they, of course, sell them in the black Market with 950% profit. Tell me, how a country could survive this craziness in the economy? That is the reason there are shortages of food and basic goods in Venezuela.

    Also, demonstrations in Venezuela this year have been, in their majority, peaceful. The barricades were created by citizens to protect themselves against the Venezuelan National Guard, and “Bolivarian death squads”, which of course, were paid by the corrupt Maduro’s government.

    It is easy to be “left ring-wing” if you live in the US, or France, or Spain, or Canada, where you minimum basic Human Rights are protected, but it is not easy to live and think differently in Venezuela, where you can go to jail because you disagree with the corrupted Venezuelan Government, or you complain about food shortages, or you complain that a friend was killed by the national guard, or you have a nonprofit organization that protect students, or you are a journalist that publish information about corruption…

    We don’t need to improve Maduro’s image because he is “left ring-wing”, we need your help to protect Venezuelans and our future!

  • September 28, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    Larry, you do not live in Venezuela and no doubt you must be on the “chavistic payroll” just lkike insulza and all theother pimps of the Caribbean islands supporting Maduro.
    If you want to “REALLY” see what Venezuela is like come downhere and walk around and pray that you do not get rolled and shot.
    Try and be a “bread winner” down here and try and give your children a decenteducation with moral and values in thei “politiocal whore house governemnt”. – This is not a government andmuchless a democracy as they roar about it. Yes, roar. Animals do that and that is what we have in opur government who loot this nation at their whim starting with Chavez´s daughter and minister Rafael Ramirez. – There is speculative amount of over ONE TRILLION US DOLLARS that these “humans wannabes” have looted over a 15 year period. So Larry, please stop being a “brown noser to this drug cartel” that is posing as a government. They are only hoodlums in power. No more no less.
    On the UN Security Council Seat, they are wise not to allow Venezuela in it, since they would be “stool pidgeons” for all the international terrorists around the world. Venezuela under these communist do not afford any guarantee for security and much less at the UN.

  • October 3, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    Excellent and to the point, The Post has become a mouthpiece of the ultra right wing who discharged violence……if these violent protests would have occurred in earlier years hundred would have been killed like during the Caracazo.

  • October 8, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    Pathetic honestly!

    Your article shows two things:

    The opinion of the writer is totally Biased.

    There is a high amount of ignorance regarding the topic.

    If I were you, I would have stop writing, you have no ethics.


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