First, we had CNN trying to diminish the Obama Administration’s success at having a better relationship with Chavez than Bush did.
Now, we have AP Reporter Pamela Sampson blasting Chavez for spending oil money on Venezuela’s poor.
Take what Pamela Sampson of the Associated Press wrote:
Chavez invested Venezuela’s oil wealth into social programs including state-run food markets, cash benefits for poor families, free health clinics and education programs. But those gains were meager compared with the spectacular construction projects that oil riches spurred in glittering Middle Eastern cities, including the world’s tallest building in Dubai and plans for branches of the Louvre and Guggenheim museums in Abu Dhabi.
Venezuela is a poor country, and one reason that Hugo Chavez managed to stay in power over 14 years was his attention to the needs of his country’s poor people. For all of his focus on control of the press, Hugo Chavez can, at least, be said to have cared deeply about the needs of those in his country who had less.
And he was correct to do so, because while those like Pamela Sampson gush over the skyscrapers of Dubai, Lila Allen of the BBC notes the “massive,” to use her words, difference between that Middle Easter city’s rich and its poor. Allen reports that the bad living conditions are kept out of view from journalists. To get some view of them, a reporter went undercover. This is what Allen wrote:
Instead on arriving in Dubai they are met with shanty town conditions hidden from public view. In a country that penalises journalists reporting stories which negatively reflect the economy or insult the government with massive fines and even imprisonment, it was important to maintain a low profile.
Andrew Flintoff and Michael Owen
Ambassadors for a development: Freddie Flintoff and Michael Owen
In secret, we followed a group of workers home from work. Employed by The First Group’s sub-contractors United Engineering Construction, they were working on a development due to be finished in June ready for England striker Michael Owen to move in.
Back at the worker’s camp we were soon rumbled and asked to leave. Returning over the next few days we managed to speak to some of the men living there on condition of anonymity.
They told a grim tale. None had been paid the money they were promised by the recruitment agencies, and many said they couldn’t afford to eat properly, living on a diet of potatoes, lentils and bread. Average salaries are often no more than £120 a month. This for a six-day week, often working up to 12-hour shifts. One company paid approximately 30p an hour for overtime.
That gives you a look at the other side of life in Dubai, and sheds a light on how incorrect Ms. Sampson’s article was regarding Chavez. Perhaps if Dubai spent some of its oil money on its poorest people, it wouldn’t have shanty towns to hide from journalists.