When biased news has a second motive

Nino Pagliccia

Photo: Venezuelanalysis.com
Last December 16 the New York Times posted online an unusually long article pretending to show how children in Venezuela suffer from “severe malnutrition” and are “dying of hunger”. One sensationalist statement says, “Hunger has gripped the nation for years. Now, it’s killing children.” It includes several photos (assuming they were taken in Venezuela) likely underexposed in order to add a dramatic effect to the story. What gives away the underlying bias is when it says, the “Venezuelan government knows, but won’t admit it.” [1]

You must be easy to fool to believe that this is true because that is not the Venezuela I know. What I also know is that discrediting the Bolivarian Revolution has become a US MSM favourite pastime in accordance with the dictate (NOTE: root word for dictatorship) of the US government’s determination for regime change in Venezuela.

An earlier article in the The Guardian refers to an increase in infant mortality rate in Venezuela in 2016 but it cites “neonatal sepsis, pneumonia, respiratory distress syndrome, and prematurity as the main causes.” This is quite understandable in a country that is under siege with sanctions and a financial blockade. [2]

Once the cause of deaths is debunked, there is hardly anything else that can be trusted in the article, including the photos. Therefore, I will not waste my time trying to disprove fake news. However, just to provide some perspective about the extent of the fake news, consider this. According to the CIA World Factbook (I never thought I would reference the CIA) Venezuela’s infant mortality rate for 2016 (infants who died in their first year for every 1,000 live births) was 12.2. That is, out of 1000 new babies being born in 2016, slightly more than 12 on average died within the first year of their lives. Compare that with the following Latin American countries: Guatemala 21.3, Peru 18.5, Paraguay 18.7, Brazil 17.5, Honduras 17.2, El Salvador 16.8, and Colombia 13.6. [3]

If we were to use a better indicator of a nation’s wellbeing, the Human Development Index, which is a comparative measure of life expectancy, education, and standard of living, the UN Development Program 2016 report ranks Venezuela 71st out of the 188 countries examined. The index ranges from 0 (lowest) to 1 (highest). [4] In fact, the index for Venezuela was measured at 0.767, higher than the average index for Latin America and the Caribbean at 0.751, and “better than Brazil’s 0.754, Peru’s 0.740 and Colombia’s 0.727 …, and significantly higher than its ranking of 0.677 in 2000, just as President Hugo Chavez came to power and initiated his Bolivarian Revolution.” [5]

Interestingly, in December 15 another article appeared, not in the NYT but in the Guardian, not about Venezuela but about the US. The article summarizes an official report prepared by a UN rapporteur who refers to the “persistence of extreme poverty in America.” One sentence gives the main idea of the findings: “The United States is one of the world’s richest and most powerful and technologically innovative countries; but neither its wealth nor its power nor its technology is being harnessed to address the situation in which 40 million people continue to live in poverty.” [6]

I tend to believe this report as being more objective in part because I have read similar reports before in my capacity as a researcher on Global Health. But let me just quote one sentence from it: “US infant mortality rates in 2013 were the highest in the developed world.”

To all the gullible readers of the NYT I will only ask, why is it a story to spread unproven deaths in a country that admittedly is in “crisis” (caused by the US government), but it is not a real story that 40 million people live in poverty with many children dying in the “world’s richest country”?

We are only left to say, “the US government knows, but it won’t admit it.”

[1]https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/12/17/world/americas/venezuela-children-starving.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2017/may/09/venezuela-public-health-crisis-infant-mortality-maternal-malaria

[3] https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2091.html

[4] http://hdr.undp.org/en/2016-report

[5] https://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Venezuela-Maintains-High-Human-Development-UN-20170325-0003.html

[6] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/15/extreme-poverty-america-un-special-monitor-report

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Nino Pagliccia

NINO PAGLICCIA has two Master’s Degrees from Stanford University and is a retired researcher on Canada-Cuba collaborative projects at the University of British Columbia. He has published many peer-reviewed journal articles and has contributed chapters to books on topics about Cuba, the Cuban healthcare system and solidarity. He has been a long-time activist and has organized groups to do voluntary work in Cuba for almost 15 years.

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