London 25.07.12 - In nearly 10 years of blogging about Venezuela a great deal of things can be observed. One of the most important lessons is that otherwise well regarded institutions, those that are perceived to be ethical and moral beacons of civilised societies, are just as prone to be permeated by radicals as any other from underdeveloped countries. As such, The Guardian is perceived as being this "beyond-reproach" media institution. The Guardian has, for instance, soft-powered its way into basically dictate the editorial line of the BBC, perhaps the world's most powerful media conglomerate. Alas neither is accountable. Evidence shows that both The Guardian and the BBC have a soft spot for the likes of Hugo Chavez, while Israel and the USA are devils incarnates.
But that's fine. We can accept that different people have different ideologies / opinions, everyone's rights to hold and express them so long as these are circumscribed to commonly accepted polity terms. But every so often, on a variety of issues completely alien to its own interests or those of its Islington-readership, The Guardian cranks it up a little. There are blogs solely devoted to document the Guardian's antisemitism. There are other blogs that take the approach of exposing the double standard and sheer hypocrisy of The Guardian, whether it is related to tax avoidance or lying about its own hacking practices, while some analysts have voiced concern about The Guardian's giving tribune to terrorists.
We have grown accustomed to read puff pieces published at The Guardian by paid apologists of Hugo Chavez, such as violent Stalinist Calvin Tucker, discredited economist-cum-propaganda-film-script-writer Mark Weisbrot, pariahs like Ken Livingstone, or former KGB operatives such as Richard Gott. The Guardian is in a never ending quest to find new voices, to carry on whitewashing one the Left's most emblematic and last standing totems: the Venezuelan caudillo. Little it matters, to this group of hired pens, that the object of their infatuation is a lieutenant colonel that has militarised Venezuela's public administration (more here) -akin to the rightwing dictatorships of old in Latin America. Their driving force seemingly being Chavez's fiery anti US rhetoric -despite the fact that beyond all his protestations Chavez continues to sell all the oil he can to the USA.
However it would seem that The Guardian, and by extension its crew of Chavez apologists, have tied themselves into an impossible knot. Yesterday, new kid on the block Jonathan Glennie wrote:
Second, and somewhat more awkwardly for liberals in established democracies, the complete freedom of the press is not always a sign of a functioning democracy – in some contexts it can actually militate against progress for the majority poor.
And further down in the article:
There are many examples where more freedoms are indeed crucial to progress for the poorest, but there are also certainly examples where clamping down on media and other freedoms can be justified for development purposes.
In his piece, he justifies concentration and abuse of power by Chavez in Venezuela, as reported by Human Rights Watch. Glennie's arguments, as a matter of fact, are nothing new among those feeling nostalgic about communism. Stalinist Calvin Tucker wrote in the blog Harry's Place in April 2009:
By contrast, I proclaim my support for the attempt to overthrow by force in 1992 the corrupt government of Carlos Andres Perez, which had lost all claims to democratic legitimacy when it massacred up to 3,000 civilians and secretly buried many of the bodies in mass graves.
In a previous instance, a 100 or so apologists of Chavez attacked another Human Rights Watch report, and were -rightly- dismissed as peddlers of "baseless allegations". Glennie, Tucker et al believe that there is justification for violations of human, civil and apolitical so long as these are carried out by leftists. It is absolutely fine, in their warped understanding of the world. See human, civil and political rights can militate against progress of the poor, and so in certain contexts, to be certain only those in which leftist / communist dictators are in power, it is OK to, erm, violate inalienable rights.
When I confronted Glennie about this in Twitter he buried himself even deeper, providing a link -to prove his purported serious analytical skills- to an article he wrote about -you guessed it- Hugo Chavez's so called nemesis across the Colombian border, Alvaro Uribe, and his atrocious human rights record. It is perfectly kosher for Chavez to trample on rights and personal freedoms of Venezuelans in the sake of "development" (obviously economic stats are most definitely not Glennie's forte). But, of course, Uribe needs to be measured with a different rule. He is a conservative, right wing, so Uribe's attempt to rid Colombia of the narcoterrorist marxist FARC guerrilla is BAD -never mind the +3 million displaced Colombians that have suffered the consequences of FARC attempt to wrest control from that country's institutions. Using his own argument, I said to Glennie that gross human rights violations under Pinochet were justifiable, just as much, for "development purposes". Mind you the economic benefits that his dictatorship brought to Chile are tangible, unlike Venezuela with its near total dependency on food imports, highest inflation in Latin America, unemployment, crime, etc., etc., etc. And let's not even touch Cuba's situation.
Needless to say that Glennie's article's sources establish clearly where he stands politically. In Glennie's little world -BTW funded by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation- material support to FARC, oil to Assad, support to Khadafi, Mugabe, Castro, al-Bashir, multibillion dollar weapons purchases to Russia, expropriations, coups d'etat, imprisonment of opponents, political persecution, all of that is fine and dandy. For "development purposes".
Despite all this, we must rejoice and feel grateful towards Glennie and his ilk, for continuing to provide examples of just how utterly deranged the left that supports Hugo Chavez is. For Glennie has also argued that Cuba is "A development model that proved the doubters wrong". This is not a joke, is there at The Guardian for all to see. And remember, this Glennie guy is meant to be a "development" expert.