Keane Bhatt is a Washington, D.C.-based activist and writer, and a contributing editor to the North American Congress on Latin America. He has worked in the United States and Latin America on a variety of campaigns related to community development and social justice. His analyses and opinions have appeared in a range of outlets, including NPR.org, The Nation, The St. Petersburg Times, CNN En Español and Al Jazeera. He is the author of the NACLA blog “Manufacturing Contempt,” which critically analyzes the U.S. press and its portrayal of the hemisphere.
If you look at unemployment, it's at a very low point. It's about, you know, 6 percent. If you look at poverty from 2011 to 2012, Venezuela presided over the sharpest decline in poverty throughout the entire region. So it fell by 19 percent in 2013. Despite the problems of inflation and so on, you have further reductions in the rate of household poverty. So that fell by an entire percentage point over 2013, despite the inflation.
So what you're seeing is a portrayal of Venezuela as some kind of a chaotic economic basket case. But when you look at a lot of the macroindicators, you've had real respectable per capita income growth. Over the past decade it's been at about 2.7 percent annually. Again, you know, if you look at this historically, poverty has been slashed by half, absolute poverty by 70 percent. The inequality has been reduced so drastically that it's now the lowest in Latin America.
Which makes toilet paper disappear from store shelves? Causes airlines to stop selling tickets in Caracas? Oh no, that's some other guy's fault;
...you know, while there's no indication that the United States is active in this particular effort, in which the opposition is clearly attempting to force a democratically elected government to withdraw and to actually--to resign, you have many, many indicators of a constant, ongoing, you know, U.S. support through financing, through providing training, and by incentivizing these kinds of behaviors with their immediate acceptance of the coup government of Pedro Carmona in 2002. You know, WikiLeaks actually produced a document, a 2006 cable, which talked about--you know, which was signed by the U.S. ambassador and described a number of positions, which included "Penetrating Chavez' Political Base," "Dividing Chavismo", protecting U.S. vital interests, and "Isolating Chavez Internationally." And I'm basically saying this almost verbatim. So the fact that this government may believe that there's a conspiracy against it on the part of the United States government is not very outlandish at all.
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