'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Making Things Up About Bolivia 

With an Argentina-style meltdown looming in Bolivia, Jim Shultz of Blog from Bolivia catches the Western media lying about the country's recent history in its coverage of the current turmoil there. Recent news stories like to say that former Bolivian president, Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, was forced to resign because of "violent protests" orchestrated by Bolivian socialists -- see for example here or here -- and, in fact, this characterization of Bolivia's recent history even made it into a Kerry speech, which is all fine and good except for the fact that it's false. Here's Shultz with the facts:

At least 59 people died in the October 2003 uprising over a proposed gas export deal through Chile to the US. Of those, the vast majority were civilians killed by military and police gunfire, troops sent out under the President's command. The New York Times reported, at the time, that one of the few soldiers killed was shot by his own superior for refusing to fire on a crowd. Violence on the part of the government grew so extreme that high-level United Nations officials formally called on the President to control his forces. Even the President's own handpicked Vice President broke with Sanchez de Lozada over the violence. In the end the President was not ousted by violent mobs but by a peaceful demonstrations and a broad nationwide call for his resignation led by prominent human rights officials and leaders in the Catholic Church.

Amnesty International recently published a lengthy and authoritative report on the events of October 2003. Here's the link.

Shultz seems a little shocked about these distortions commenting

When I write publicly, whether in this Blog, in our Democracy Center newsletter, or in my newspaper articles in the US, I feel a real duty to get the facts right. I can't understand why these reporters and others are willing to get the facts so wrong. Bad reporting becomes a false assumption of fact, one powerful enough to sway a Presidential candidate and in turn the foreign policy of the United States.

but this type of bad reporting is business as usual; one doesn't rise through the ranks of the journalism racket by writing nice things about Latin American leftists.

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