Latin America Pundits Avoid Latin American Opinion

Observing that Latinobarometro’s 2008 report on Latin American public opinion again “went entirely unreported in almost all of the world’s major media outlets,” with “only small snippets selectively analyzed by writers at the Economist, Christian Science Monitor and Washington Times,” Latin American history major Kevin Young’s ZNet analysis of the survey (5/27/09) gives some probable reasons:

Washington’s contempt for the Chavez and Morales governments is readily apparent given frequent Bush administration denunciations and threats directed at the two leaders, U.S. support for violent opposition groups and coup attempts in Venezuela and Bolivia, and its ongoing and well-documented (though still highly secretive) channeling of funds to opposition groups in the two countries. Conversely, the governments of countries like Colombia and Mexico draw frequent praise from U.S. government leaders and media analysts and also receive large sums of U.S. taxpayers’ money in the form of military and/or economic aid. Colombia ($657 million) and Mexico ($579 million) top all Latin American countries in total.

That U.S. media consistently praises official U.S. friends and condemns official enemies goes hand-in-glove with their refusal to acknowledge polling that directly contradicts their justifications for U.S. Latin American policy. Young lists Latinobarometro results showing “Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela is the third ‘freest’ country among the 18 surveyed,” while “the three large countries whose governments remain closely aligned with the United States–Colombia, Mexico and Peru–rank well below Venezuela in every category” polled, such as “Democracy [in my country] guarantees the freedom to participate in politics,” “Democracy guarantees freedom of expression, always and in all parts [of the country]” and “The most effective way to change things is by voting to elect those who defend my position.”

See the recent issue of FAIR magazine Extra!: “FAIR Study: Human Rights Coverage Serving Washington’s Needs: FAIR Finds Editors Downplaying Colombia’s Abuses, Amplifying Venezuela’s” (2/09) by Steve Rendall, Daniel Ward & Tess Hall