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Sunday's Big Winner: Hugo Chavez (see more below). Photo credit: Ken Silverstein, from YouTube video.

I love football and doing the weekly roundup but nothing really noteworthy happened in the NFL yesterday. Sure, the Dodgers took a 2 to 0 lead over the Cubs in the divisional playoffs, the Redskins eked out a 26 to 24 victory over the winless 49ers, and there were some great individual plays (the Vikings’s Laquon Treadwell’s one-handed grab comes to mind here).

But sadly, Tom Brady did not suffer a crippling career ending injury (on a legal hit; I’m not a fan of cheating) and Colin Kaepernick, who used to play for the 49ers, still can’t get a job, though he has filed a grievance charging collusion against the collection of mental midgets known as NFL owners.  (The 49ers are 0-6 and about half the league’s teams are led by terrible QBs, yet Kaepernick is unemployed. What could possibly explain it?)

Anyway, fuck football, there was great news yesterday from Venezuela, where the governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) crushed the vile opposition, led by the utterly charmless and corrupt Unidad Democrática — known by its perfect acronym, MUD — in gubernatorial elections.

The government won 17 governorships, the opposition 5, and one was still undecided last time I looked. The opposition is whining about fraud but, even if true, and that is not at all clear, the outcome was likely a good reflection of political sentiment in the country.

The government may not be popular, but few Venezuelans believe in what Chavez called the Rancid Old Oligarchy (ROO) — which has no program other than returning to power and starting to steal from the public treasury and kill their enemies, as per usual, and which for the past two years has called protests aimed more at destabilizing the economy than advocating for a political or economic agenda. And the largely white-skinned ROO can’t market their program because their political and economic ideas are anathema to most Venezuelans.

Meanwhile, there’s been a clear effort by the United States — and now openly pushed by the Organization of American States as well — to implement regime change in Venezuela ever since the great radical Bolivarian Hugo Chavez won office in 1998, and which continues today against his successor, Nicolás Maduro. I definitely don’t believe things in Venezuela are perfect, I’m critical of many of Maduro’s policies, especially in the political realm, and I feel badly for Venezuela’s long suffering people, who have legitimate grievances.

Unfortunately, the ROO doesn’t care a rat’s ass about the country’s poor, and the poor know it. The opposition leadership is far, far worse than the current government and they would be far more likely to employ violence against protestors and opponents. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump’s threats to invade Venezuela a few months back no doubt helped the PSUV because whatever Venezuelans want for the future, they do not want to be taken over by a U.S. occupying force.

By the way, the Maduro administration has actually been remarkably restrained given the ongoing U.S.-sponsored regime change operation and the use of violence by the opposition, which hardly gets noted in news accounts here. U.S. police forces kill more unarmed Black men in six months than have been killed by the Venezuelan government since protests broke out, with outside support and encouragement, a few years ago.

Speaking of atrocious, reckless, and thoroughly dishonest U.S. media reports about Venezuela, there may be no one worse than Hannah Dreier, who was based in Caracas for the Associated Press and now works for, of all places ProPublica. That’s just pathetic.

Dreier, a graduate of snooty Wesleyan University and who, according to her Linkedin profile, took part in the Wharton School Seminar for Business Journalists, has a rather clear class and political bias.

Her stories from Venezuela were lightly sourced, to put it mildly, and it was apparent she spent the great majority of her time speaking with and hanging out with the government’s enemies. That would be fine if she ever spoke to or hung out with government supporters, or people in between, but she couldn’t have based on her appalling stories.

Dreier also just makes things up. Here’s part of a letter I sent her and the AP after she wrote an item about alleged  “infanticide” in Venezuela — a story that was virtually unsourced but nonetheless got great play in the credulous and complicit U.S. media:

 I used to work at AP in Brazil, from 1989 to 1993. We couldn’t publish extraordinary stories without some factual basis. Times apparently have changed.
 
Hannah Drier, your correspondent in Caracas reports — mostly tweets — a lot of dubious things. She claims she is witnessing “more” cases of infanticide in Venezuela and this story has gotten wide pick up in the international press.
 
Did anyone at AP ask her for verification of this amazing claim? How many cases has she seen? “More” compared to what?
 
I believe that is a bullshit story and calls into question her other highly dubious and thinly sourced stories.
Needless to say, I never heard back from the AP or Dreier. That’s the arrogance of today’s media overlords. We publish what we want, true or not, and won’t bother replying when we’re caught.
Incidentally, the picture of Chavez that graces this story is from his famous “Por Ahora” speech, which he made after a coup attempt that he led failed, tragically. But it made him famous because, among other things, it was the first time in modern Venezuelan history that a politician took responsibility for his actions.
After popular protests forced his release from prison, Chavez went on to win the presidency in 1998 and won re-election repeatedly until his death of cancer in 2013. He’s definitely one of the greatest leaders in Latin American history and I had the distinct pleasure of meeting him in 2004. (Which I’ll discuss, along with the subject of the media’s outrageous “reporting” on Venezuela, in Washington Babylon’s debut podcast on November 1.)
Check out the Commandante’s speech and here’s part of the transcript below, but listen to the speech in the original Spanish if you can. It sends chills down my spine every time.
Comrades: Unfortunately, for the moment, the objectives that we had set ourselves have not been achieved in the capital. That is to say that those of us here in Caracas have not been able to seize power. Where you are, you have performed well, but now is the time for us to rethink. New possibilities will arise again and the country will be able to move definitively towards a better future.
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