Frontline World


Venezuela, A NATION ON EDGE, June 2003



Read through archived FRONTLINE/World conversations around this story, including responses from the reporter.

Maria Cepeda - New York, New York
I strongly believe that Chavez is not only a "Symptom of the Sickness" that has been suffering Venezuela over the past years, but he himself is at the same time, the personification of a new kind of sickness never seen before among Venezuelans. That is, the social crisis that he has generated as a consequence of his lefty populist politics which had divided our nation in two, those who believe or want to believe in his lies and therefore, blindly love him. And then there are those who never believed or trusted him in the first place, or those who took their time to realize the truth about Chavez's regime of lies and corruption that continues to oppress the Venezuelan people under a disguise of "democracy".

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for giving a space in your programming to this important issue. Venezuela should be more often in the news. The world does not yet realize the potential danger that lies beneath the so called democratic government of the "Revolutionary Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela" as Chavez now calls it. The country I learned to love simply as: "Venezuela".

Eduardo Aruajo - New York, New York
The real reason why Chavez is in power is because poor people believe that he is their only hope. Venezuelan politicians have always been corrupt and have never cared for the country or its citizens. Chavez does care for the poor. The problem is that althouhg he cares, he does not seem to be prepared to help them.

Jaime Urribarri - Boston, Massachusetts
Chavez is not just the symptom but rather the medicine and cure to his ailing nation. Venezuelans are very lucky that he as a human being is risking his live for that nation. He's tackling a lot of issues that previous governments had ignored because they were too afraid to confront an elitist opposition...

Kevin Frater - Tampa, Florida
I really enjoyed the recent report on Venezuela's political well-being under President Chavez. If I understand correctly, Venezuela is a democratic government.

I found/heard something in a segment to be very ironic. The reporter(unfortunately I don't know his name) was interviewing, who seemed to be, a very successful local newspaper reporter. This gentleman(who was being interviewed) made a very interesting point. In opposition to Chavez, he claimed that Chavez may have changed the way or future of any other president that followed. He said (not in his exact words, but what I understood) that the next leaders of the country would be pressured or possibly be influenced by the people's requests or demands.

Now maybe I'm wrong, but I believe that in order to have a successful democratic government the people of the country are suppose to "Demand/Influence" any policy within their government. I just found this to be very interesting and ironic. The person who is opposing improper democratic policy, just defined in my eyes a properly implemented democracy. There are many other issues, regarding Chavez, in which I'm not particularly compliant. I guess I'm just possibly lost when it comes to defining a democratic government? Or maybe it's just because I'm an American??????

Katherine Castro - Albany, California
I was a bit dismayed to see tonight's (6/12) leading Frontline story by Juan Forero, who described himself as a "New York Times and PBS reporter." Be that as it may, his reputation as an impartial journalist is a lot muddier than those august credentials would imply (search Google for "Juan Forero, New York Times reporter"). I was disappointed that KQED chose to overlook his dubious journalistic ethics in reporting on Latin American issues. I urge viewers to read more about him on the Web, and why organizations like FAIR have been so sharply critical.

Although Forero ostensibly gave air time to both sides of the Venezuelan political divide, I found the piece to be very shallow and lacking in-depth analysis about why a country so rich in natural and human resources should have had such a stunning turnaround over the past 20 years from (using his figures) 75 percent middle class/25 percent poverty level to the current 25 percent middle and upper class/75 percent poverty level. I was also left wondering why the United States was so quick to recognize the short-lived coup against Chavez (and why it was so alone in doing so), and what role, if any, the United States might have had in instigating it. But that would have involved real investigative reporting. Instead, Forero preferred to include irrelevant but politically loaded shots of Chavez hugging Castro and shaking hands with Saddam Hussein (this last, by the way, something that our own Secretary Defense has been caught on film doing). Shame on PBS and KQED for airing such a superficial, or worse, program by this discredited individual.

Anonymous - Los Angeles, California

What has happened to the most fantastic programme in all of broadcasting?

If you insist on producing a 'Hard Copy' type expose show such as 'FRONTLINE/World', at least find it another name to disassociate this drivel from the quality yardstick of all broadcast programming.

I watched the 'Hugo Chavez' element of tonight's program.

Are you people now representing the Bush Whitehouse, the Oil Companies and the NeoCons?

Shades of Allende and Chile on a different 9/11.

The REAL Frontline will have fertile ground in the (hopefully) near future, doing a proper expose of what has been happening in Venezuela since Bush became President.

Your reporter, with only vague qualification, told of how the standard of living has fallen 10% since Chavez took power. With a coup attempt and 5 right wing orchestrated general strikes later, is that all? Bravo Chavez!

Look what has happened in America in the last couple of years.

Your show is not on FOX, it is on PBS. AND to paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen to Dan Quayle " ......YOU ARE NO FRONTLINE........"

Thank You.

Darren Norris - San Francisco, California
FRONTLINE/World obviously has contempt for democratically elected leaders. Why else would it employ propagandist (a more apt term than journalist, i'm afraid) Juan Forero, who has been a tool of the U.S. backed opposition since before the coup; whose first reaction to the coup was to say that "Chavez Resigned". The phony "opposition" that your story empathizes so well is as phony a "freedom" movement as the Contras were. I'm astonished and biased by your biased reporting (although to call this swill reporting is quite a stretch). Why don't you just hire Jayson Blair next time?

Pensacola, FL
Chavez is probably a symptom of Venezuela's increasing inequality, the gap between the haves and have-nots. As indicated in the PBS program, the wealth brought in by Venezuela's oil has been largely squandered, probably distributed among Venezuela's corrupt elite instead of for the general social betterment.

Dearborn, MI
There are only two reason why somebody like Chavez leads Venezuela:
1. People's lack of determination: Unfortunately people do not want to get out of their rut. They seem to know what it is but can not figure out what to do about it. The majority of Venezuelans were persuaded to elect someone who is as ignorant as they are. There's plenty of history out there to learn from so that you do not repeat your mistakes but Venezuelans seem to support their own misery.

2. Abuse of power: Always the way out in Venezuela; anybody who can abuse authority to have it their way, will. Just what Chavez does. He has the artillery, the monkeys with the guns, he wins. This is a bad habit that has been role-modeled in Venezuela for decades.

People are not determined to get out of the rut.

Pablo Garcia - New York, NY
I think Chavez is the only absolutely responsible for the crisis. He is the one who armed groups around the country to intimidate Venezuelan's opposition.

Mountainview, CA
I agree with Borges. Chavez election was just a sympton. But now he's the one with the opportunity to find a cure, and so far, the patient is just getting a lot worst, fast. He's at the bat and keeps striking out.