EDITORIAL: Friends as always but no satellites
It was as predictable as night follows day that Venezuelan supporters in Barbados would follow the script. Everybody is congenial to their prejudices but not everything is black or white.
Since our early days of Independence, the principal plank of our foreign policy has been “friends of all and satellites of none”. In this vein, the NATION newspapers reserve the right to comment fearlessly on issues of public concern, even if at times it may make our friends and advertisers uncomfortable.
We are not perfect and will not please everyone, but we will report fearlessly. We continue to defend the rights of those who disagree with us and to publish their responses nonetheless. However, we resent those who seemingly have no prejudices or biases, yet try to tell the media what to print.
Even Cuba under new President Raul Castro is slowly turning the corner and seeing some advantages in the capitalist system. Yes, there are excesses everywhere but capitalism, despite its drawbacks, offers the best form of individual freedom and prosperity as we know it.
Let us be fair: Venezuela was always a friend of the Caribbean from the days of the late President Carlos Perez who enjoyed a good relationship with regional leaders during the 1970s and 1980s.
The PetroCaribe deal offered by the late President Hugo Chavez was seen by some as an overt gesture to garner international support to gain a seat on the United Nations Security Council. Some within the Friends of Venezuela Solidarity Committee are saying that it was anti-imperialist strategy.
Whatever it was, the oil under PetroCaribe was not offered at concessionary rates as an Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) member but on a long-term payment schedule that will be a millstone around the necks of many countries which have limited prospects for economic growth to service debt.
The evidence is all around us but we accept there is no perfect world or perfect system.
We accept that we sometimes get it wrong, but we deprecate those who suggest that we follow the dictates of the international media in reporting negative things about Venezuela.
In an effort to fight against those “waging economic warfare” on the people of Venezuela, the country’s legislators approved a bill giving President Nicolas Maduro sweeping powers once held by late President Hugo Chavez. Basically, he can now rule by decree, without the need for legislative approval.
There were doubts about whether or not Maduro, a mere shadow of his predecessor, would have been able to pass such major controls – but he did. In April 2002, widespread protests resulted in Chavez being briefly ousted before he was restored to power until his death.
The truth is that Venezuela has been experiencing unrest for some months now and the level of uncertainty has intensified with the recent arrest of some generals of the Venezuelan Air Force who are accused of plotting to overthrow the government.
This is news that should be printed together with the unrest. To suggest that it should not be published because Venezuela has offered us a hand in friendship would be to betray the very basis of the existence of the media.