[Note: this piece is a sidebar to “The Repeatedly Re-Elected Autocrat.”]
New York Times Latin American reporter Larry Rohter (5/20/05) called Hugo Chávez “stridently anti-American,” one of hundreds of instances of U.S. news reporters branding the Venezuelan president with that epithet. Chávez says it’s not true; he says such reporters are confusing his distaste for the Bush administration with anti-Americanism. “The country is one thing—we have lovely relations with the people,” Chávez told the Washington Post’s Lally Weymouth (9/25/05). “We have many ties between Venezuela and the United States—economic and social,” said Chávez, clarifying his views on the Bush administration:
If dislike for the current administration is anti-American, doesn’t that make tens of millions of Americans “anti-American”? Moreover, by the media logic that calls Chávez “anti-American,” shouldn’t the Bush administration, whose distaste for Chávez moved it to support his ouster by an anti-democratic coup, be called “anti-Venezuelan”?