Clarification

Marc Weisbrot of the Center for Economic and Policy Research writes to say he does not care to be described as a "Chavez supporter" as I identified him in a recent post.

His explanation follows in the link below.

Weisbrot says, "I have written much more favorable comments -- in columns, op-eds, etc. about Lula, President Kirchner of Argentina, and others than I have about Chavez. But no one would call me a 'Lula-supporter' or a 'Kirchner supporter,' and I am not a supporter of any of these presidents. Nor was I a supporter of John Kerry just because I have written critically of George W. Bush."

Fair enough.

By Jefferson Morley |  September 30, 2005; 8:00 AM ET  | Category:  Misc.
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Article by Jefferson Morley, "referencing the story, which was first circulated by a 20-year old Italian logger who calls himself Stab."

I'm an Italian-American (Buffalo, NY) who has to unfortunately retire and continue living in Italy because of family ties. I also have to admit after living in Italy for a long time, I am not so proud of the Italian part. When you're dealing with Italians you better put a barrier and start out with a great distrust of these these people. As my father, an Italian immigrant to America always told me, you can trust an Italian as an individual, but you better never ever trust the Italians generally as a race. Harsh words, all true and no, it's not racisms!! Just facts, and if anyone thinks for one minute that Italy is a true blue ally to America, he better double check his brain!!

Posted by: Vic Mantino (Rome) | September 30, 2005 05:03 PM

Thanks for correcting your mistake in labeling me.

Here is a letter I sent to the Washington Post regarding Jackson Diehl's recent column on Venezuela, which the Post will not print. It refutes his claim that poverty has increased under Chavez, which few economists would take seriously. I think your readers would benefit from it, because the statistics you referred them to are out of date, and as I note in the letter (below), the poverty numbers you cited (from the first quarter of 2004) reflect the increase in poverty from the opposition oil strike of 2002-2003, not the current situation. Poverty rates are very sensitive to downturns and upswings in the economy, as you can see from the data that you linked to.

172 words

To the Editor:

Jackson Diehl's claim (September 26) that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez "has managed to increase the poor population by a quarter" is wrong. Mr. Diehl looks only at cash income, ignoring the fact that about 40% of the country now has subsidized food; millions also have health care for the first time, and increased access to education. Counting only the value of the subsidized food would give a substantially reduced poverty rate. Also, even ignoring these enormous improvements in the lives of the poor, the poverty numbers Diehl cites are now a year and a half old and out of date. [1] These reflect an increase in the poverty rate that resulted from the opposition-led oil strike of 2002-2003, which crippled the Venezuelan economy.[2] There is no question that Venezuela's poor majority have benefited from the current government; that's why Chavez and his allied political parties keep winning landslide election victories.

Mr. Diehl's allegations regarding the Venezuelan government's "destruction of political freedom" and support for guerilla movements are also without factual foundation or evidence.

Sincerely,

Mark Weisbrot

[1] The 53 percent figure he cites, counting cash income only, is from the first quarter of 2004.
[2] In fact the entire increase in the poverty rate that Diehl cites is attributable to the oil strike of 2002-2003; the poverty rate fell from 42.8 percent to 39.1 percent from 1999-2001. See "A Note on Venezuela's Economic Performance," http://www.cepr.net/publications/venezuela_2005_06.pdf page 4.

Posted by: Mark Weisbrot | October 1, 2005 07:08 PM

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