Is Venezuela a paradise and the U.S. a 'failed democracy'? You decide

Por Venezuela Real - 3 de Mayo, 2007, 13:10, Categoría: Testimonios

Manny Lopez
Detroit News
April 01, 2007

Two miles separated me from Venezuela, and I didn't even know it. Silly me.

I traveled more than 4,800 roundtrip miles to see what was happening with family and friends there and how life had changed under the regime of Hugo Chavez, but all I really needed to do was wait for Eva Golinger to roll into Detroit to tell me.

A chicken in every pot and endless prosperity exists throughout the South American nation, the author of the "Chavez Code" said recently at a lecture at Wayne State University. There are no food shortages, everyone is happy and Chavez's commitment to democracy based on "integration and cooperation" will soon displace America's "failed model" of democracy.

I'm not making that up. She really said all that.

She spent nearly two hours bashing the United States government, its constitution and its people. Her rants weren't new or original. Plenty of authors before her have accused the U.S. government of being imperialist pigs out to slaughter self-rule in Latin America.

There's undoubtedly truth to some of that, but hardly to the extent that Golinger wants us to believe. Give her credit for her convictions and the tedious work she did gathering Freedom of Information Act requests to "prove" that the U.S. government is trying to overtake Venezuela.

But she loses most of her credibility as soon as she speaks. Don't take my word for it; listen to hers:

On capitalism

"The Venezuelan model is of a partnership democracy, a revolutionary, socialist-type of model that participates in a market economy. A market community that places a priority on people before economic interests. This is a direct threat to capitalism (and) the U.S. democracy which actually is really a failed model.

"In the United States poverty has increased, there's unemployment, massive amounts of people without health care. Everyone's on drugs or depressed or something. There's a diminishing sense of humanity and community and Venezuela is pretty much the opposite.

"Capitalism is going to fall anyway and the U.S. Empire is going down."

Yikes, rebuild the bomb shelters, quick. But first, don't forget to buy Golinger's book.

That'll be $20, please. Wise shoppers however would turn to, where the book sells for $13.46. Apparently capitalism sucks, except when you're gouging college students and the cash drops into your pockets, eh, Eva?

On constitutions

The Venezuelan Constitution (which was rewritten to suit Chavez's political needs) "really didn't represent the reality in Venezuela and society. It was very exclusionary for the majority of people and you know they wanted to bring it up to date more. I'm actually a big proponent of constitutional reform (in the United States).

Golinger says the U.S. Constitution is too old and out of date. It hasn't worked well for us, she says, apparently preferring the Venezuelan model that gives the dictator 18 months of freedom to govern without oversight and allow him to rule as long as he wants.

"The U.S. Constitution doesn't guarantee human rights. It has civil and political. Human rights under international law are more than just civil and political, they're economic, social and cultural rights as well. All of these are included in the Venezuelan Constitution. These are rights you don't have in the United States."

Which always prompts me to ask those who are so enamored with Chavez (and to be clear, I found more of them at the Wayne State lecture than in Venezuela), why they don't move to Venezuela permanently.

"Well, um, I have ties here My job Um, I just can't right now," are the responses I get. Golinger says she has dual U.S./Venezuelan citizenship and lives in Caracas.

On Venezuelan socialism

"If you were there and saw what was happening, you'd be completely overwhelmed or bewildered with joy and happiness because of what's taking place in Venezuela. We're not just talking about the fact that illiteracy has been eradicated, that health care is available to everybody and not just a checkup -- and all of it's free."

Zero illiteracy and free health care? An absolute lie. And the feeling you get when you go down there and talk to people isn't euphoria, it's fear.

I could go on about how she claims major corporations have stood by Venezuela and not abandoned their investments (or more accurately been forced out by Chavez) or how the United States stands alone in its propaganda campaigns, but I think she's discredited herself enough.

Maybe I'm just a misguided capitalist who believes in the United States and its Constitution. I've been called worse things in my life.

Manny Lopez is a Detroit News editorial writer whose online column is published Sunday. Reach him at or (313) 222-2299.

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