Press Ignorance Competes with Distortions on Bolivia

The North American Congress on Latin America has published (NACLA Magazine, 5-6/09) Dan Beeton’s account of how, following Evo Morales’ huge win in the Bolivian presidential referendum of last August, his opponents instigated “riots, economic sabotage and the massacre of more than 20 indigenous”–during which Bolivia threw out the U.S. ambassador for attempted spying and allegedly providing “funding for violent opposition groups.” Yet, Beeton tells us, “save for one Washington Post article, the [subsequent U.S.] Morales visit garnered no full-length reports in major U.S. papers.”

This could arguably be a good thing, considering the results of what little attention was paid to Morales having solicited Sen. Richard Lugar’s “remarkable statement implicitly acknowledging that the United States had made a mistake in failing to condemn the September violence”:

Only the Associated Press and the Washington Post even mentioned it, and the AP initially misrepresented the statement completely, reporting that Lugar had said “the United States rejects any suggestion that it did not respect Bolivia’s sovereignty or the legitimacy of its government.” (A correction was never issued. A subsequent AP article in December cited Lugar’s statement correctly and reported Morales’ encouraging response.)

Although Lugar’s statement was handed directly to the Post, neither the meeting with Lugar nor Lugar’s statement made it into the print edition of the paper’s article on Morales’ visit. This is a striking omission in a 700-word article, since it was arguably the most newsworthy event of the visit. A Web version of the article did mention the Lugar meeting, but only in the 13th paragraph.

Hear of similarly shoddy press treatment of the other great official U.S. enemy of Latin America on FAIR’s radio program CounterSpin: “Dan Beeton on Venezuela” (2/13/09).