Lara, Venezuela, lacks widespread internet access, cutting off Agaric Design Collective from our sysadmin. If you want to tell us Hugo Chávez’s administration in Venezuela is doing a bad job developing the country, we have reason to listen, with prejudice.

But the accusations slipping unchallenged into news articles that Venezuela is anti-democratic, that Chávez is unpopular, and that the proposed constitutional reforms up for approval tomorrow are unlikely to pass – these are lies with consequences.

These unsourced and poorly sourced claims, dripping like acid rain showers on the informed public’s understanding of Venezuela - are lies where the truth matters. The United States government has a sordid history of intervention in countries where administrations make decisions deemed counter to corporate interests. This alone would forewarn the importance of accurate reporting on Venezuela even without the evidence of this intervention in Venezuela itself in the past seven years.

From a New York Times article yesterday, “Venezuela’s Fateful Choice” by Jens Erik Gould:

Opinion polls released in the last week have found Mr. Chávez’s proposals tied or trailing the opposition position among likely voters, after months of polls showing it likely to pass.

A Ben Sargent cartoon lumps Chávez in with Putin and Musharraf at a “Phony Elections Emporium” (oddly not labeled Diebold or E&S).

The truth is that Chávez, his party, and his policies have won election after internationally-accredited election, despite a well-funded opposition (including illegal funds from the U.S. government) and a blatantly partisan private media.

Each vote was been preceded by fraudulent opinion polls by partisan groups and public relations firms showing the opposite of the true result. Scientific polls, also available to the media but not reported, showed the true result.

Same thing this time. The unbiased polls that were correct before predict a seven point edge for support of the constitutional reforms.

Would related content help this situation? A little. If readers could easily link current articles with suspect claims to past pieces where the New York Times got it wrong – whether their infamous celebratory editorial after the April 2002 coup d’etat against Chávez (before Venezuelans countered it) or articles by the now-discredited Juan Forero such as his December 6, 2002 “Venezuelan Showdown: Chávez in Peril” – maybe current readers would think twice.

And if enough people in the U.S. think twice, maybe the U.S. government will think twice about aiding its proxies in another coup attempt.

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