On October 9, Parade magazine–the Sunday newspaper supplement with a circulation of 34.5 million, making it the country’s most widely distributed magazine–published an inaccurate smear against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. The smear, appearing in the Q&A column “Walter Scott’s Personality Parade,” was a response to a letter writer who wanted to know “where Fidel Castro gets the dough to shore up his bankrupt regime.” Scott’s full answer was:
Scott’s two-sentence response managed to misrepresent several issues. Chavez is not a Marxist; asked about his politics by the left-wing publication CounterPunch (8/16/04), Chavez replied: “I don’t believe in the dogmatic postulates of Marxist revolution. I don’t accept that we are living in a period of proletarian revolutions…. Are we aiming in Venezuela today for the abolition of private property or a classless society? I don’t think so.” Chavez describes himself as a Bolivarian, a follower of the 19th Century Latin American independence leader Simon Bolivar.
And while Venezuela does provide discounted oil to Cuba, more than 20,000 Cuban doctors are sent to work in Venezuela in exchange; the relationship is mutually beneficial.
As for Scott’s claim that Chavez is funding “revolutionaries and terrorists throughout Latin America,” Parade should provide evidence for this charge or issue a retraction. The U.S. State Department, hardly a pro-Chavez source, does not include Venezuela among the list of state sponsors of terrorism in its most recent “Country Reports on Terrorism” (4/05). The report’s section on Venezuela only alleges that “it is unclear to what extent” Venezuela might support any of the principal combatants in Colombia’s long-running civil war. The report goes on to mention, however, that the Colombia and Venezuela governments have cooperated on some terrorism-related cases, and that several Venezuelan National Guard officers were reportedly killed by FARC forces near the border between the two countries.
While some anti-Chavez partisans have claimed that Chavez supports various terrorist groups, they have failed to back up these allegations with evidence. For example, Pat Robertson–the right-wing televangelist who has called for Chavez’s assassination (700 Club, 8/22/05)–recently claimed on CNN (10/9/05) that Chavez “sent $1.2 million in cash to Osama bin Laden right after 9/11.” When asked for evidence, Robertson could only claim that “sources that came to me” told him of the transaction.
“Walter Scott” is the pseudonym of Edward Klein, the author of the The Truth About Hillary, a biography of Hillary Rodham Clinton that is riddled with errors (Media Matters, 6/23/05). Klein’s book relies overwhelmingly on anonymous sources to make a series of lurid claims and innuendos, asking peculiar questions like, “Were there any telltale signs on the presidential sheets that [Hillary and Bill Clinton] ever had sex with each other?” Klein’s book also floats the suggestion that that Chelsea Clinton was conceived as a result of Bill Clinton raping Hillary while on vacation in Bermuda. Perhaps Parade should consider whether “Scott”‘s journalism deserves closer scrutiny.
Please call on Parade Magazine to either provide evidence for its claim that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is “funding revolutionaries and terrorists throughout Latin America” or else issue a retraction of the unattributed charge.
Lee Kravitz, editor
If your local newspaper includes Parade in its Sunday edition, you might want to send your letter to them as well.