Friday, March 06, 2015

Media Accounts of Venezuela

Truthdig has an article about how we should not listen to U.S. media accounts of Venezuela. I am assuming this also means we should not listen to non-government Venezuelan media accounts of Venezuela since they often come to similar conclusions.

Regardless, I read the article with interest to see precisely what facts were being reported that were not accurate. But it doesn't provide any, beyond repeating uncritically that Diosdado Cabello claimed Antonio Ledezma was part of a coup plot. Instead, what it does is assert several (to my mind) truthful but irrelevant claims:

--The NY Times editorial page was supportive of the 2002 coup
--The Bush administration was supportive of the 2002 coup
--The Obama and Maduro governments are adversarial, including application of US sanctions
--The U.S. media treats the Mexican government with kid gloves versus Venezuela

A 13 year old coup is not evidence of inaccuracy now. That evidence would involve refutation of the facts currently being reported, but the article actually does not offer any. In fact, it criticizes The Economist for arguing that Venezuela is experiencing a slow-motion coup, even though Jose Mujica--no tool of the imperialist media--said basically the same thing.

I agree 100% about double standards with Mexico, Saudia Arabia, and any other number of places. I wish they received more critical media coverage (Saudia Arabia in particular really bothers me). But that does not mean the Venezuelan coverage is automatically inaccurate. It means the other news is inaccurate! In other words, it should be "Don't Believe Media Accounts of Saudia Arabia, Which Should Be As Bad As Venezuela."


ConsDemo 11:13 AM  

I’m in a quandary about how to treat economic statistics from Venezuela. Take it’s unemployment rate, for example. It is actually quite low, 5.5% percent, given its economy is contracting and has been a crisis for awhile. When I ask folks on opposition blogs, such as Caracas chronicles, if they have a different rate, they denounce the official rate but don’t offer anything to the contrary. Granted, the INE’s website flashes up pictures of Hugo Chavez, which makes one wonder if it’s mission isn’t colored by ideology, but that by itself, doesn’t make their numbers wrong.

What is more, a lot major economic data sites seem to accept those numbers.

Greg Weeks 11:31 AM  

I actually tend to discount any unemployment numbers because they don't account for underemployment. So unemployment in Mexico in the early 1990s was supposedly under 3% (according to CEPAL). GDP plummeted in 1995 but unemployment remained under 7%. If you count selling gum on the street as employment the numbers are "accurate" but misleading anyway.

ConsDemo 8:49 PM  

Indeed, they don't seem to list data on hours worked or wages. However, they do track "informalidad", which might be rough proxy for those selling gum on the street, and that hasn't dropped in the past year (35 % in both December 2013 and 2014) while the rate of unemployment has.

There is a theory that violent protest is low at the moment because most Venezuelans are busy standing in line. If the jobs data is valid, its probably more accurate to say "working or standing in line." If the rate does start to rise in the coming months, as it did in the last oil bust, that might yield a lot of folks with time on their hands and plenty of grievance.

Noel Maurer 10:35 PM  

Before it joined the OECD, the Mexican definition of unemployment was one hour or more of paid labor in the past month. Pretty damned useless.

Peru still uses that definition:

The period in Venezuela is one week, but I strongly suspect that they still use the one-hour rule:

Hope this helps.

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