Sunday, November 29, 2009

Washington Post Implies Bolivia, Venezuela not Democracies

On Saturday, the Washington Post contrasted Bolivia and Venezuela with "democratic Brazil" -- implying that the two nations differed from Brazil in their democratic status.

The move follows an incident in June where the Post referred to Venezuela as "authoritarian," lumping it together with Burma, in an article online. In that case, the Post soon changed the language, removing Venezuela from the "authoritarian" category.

The article this time is "Ahmadinejad boosts Latin America ties," which looks at Ahmadinejad's trip to South America. The sub-healdine reads:
"Tours include not just anti-U.S. nations, but also democratic Brazil"
The language in the article itself, by Juan Forero, is a bit less direct. The first two paragraphs:

BOGOTA, COLOMBIA -- Ever isolated by the United States and its European allies, Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is increasingly forging ties in Latin America, and not just with fervently anti-American leaders such as Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.

On Monday, Ahmadinejad met with President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil, a vibrant democracy of 190 million that has the world's eighth-largest economy and warm ties with the United States. The meeting raised concerns in Washington, which has advocated sanctions to pressure Iran to give up its nuclear program.

Ahmadinejad's Latin America trip, as the article notes, was visits to Bolivia, Brazil and Venezuela.

Forero's use of the words "vibrant democracy" are a bit of a hedge, and his contrast of Brazil with Bolivia and Venezuela is a bit less direct. So, I think his first two paragraphs are somewhat offensive, but it's the sub-headline that really goes that extra mile, directly contrasting Bolivia and Venezuela with "democratic Brazil."

If it needs to be said, yes, Bolivia and Venezuela are democracies. It's particularly funny in the case of Bolivia, where the general elections are coming up in just a week and a half -- something surely the Post knows. The U.S. government certainly doesn't consider them non-democracies; in the CIA Factbook, Bolivia is a "republic" and Venezuela a "federal republic," whereas Belarus is a "republic in name, although in fact a dictatorship" and Saudi Arabia is a "monarchy."

The Post should not toss around implications that Bolivia and Venezuela are non-democracies. That it has now done so twice this year in the case of Venezuela is particularly troubling.

Just the facts, please.


Post a Comment

<< Home