Wednesday, November 23, 2005

BBC moonlights as Hugo Chavez' PR firm

Today the BBC carried a story under the headline "Venezuela gives US cheap oil deal". The lead on the story reads as follows:
Officials from Venezuela and Massachusetts have signed a deal to provide cheap heating oil to low-income homes in the US state.
Contrary to the headline, the "US" has been given nothing at all, and despite the implication of the lead, government officials didn't sign anything. Actually, the deal was signed by officials from Citizens Energy, a private, non-profit corporation based in Massachusetts, and officials from CITGO, a US-based company that is owned by PVD America, itself a subsidiary of the state-owned Petróleos de Venezuela SA.

It is true that the deal was initiated by contacts betwen a Massachusetts politician, William Delahunt, and Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. But the spokesman for Delahunt said that Delahunt "did not get involved in the details of the contract", and he characterized the deal as one between "'a US company and two nonprofits."

BTW, according to the Boston Globe the $9 million deal represents a discount of about 40%, which is an effective "donation" to the non-profits of about $6 million. In contrast, for the year 2004, Exxon Mobile (to take just one example) made charitable donations of $106.5 million in cash, goods, and services, including $35.8 million in countries other than the United States. No word yet on whether the BBC plans on covering these donations.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a Venezuelan American living in the UK I’m sick of Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías being portrayed as a hero here in Europe, and being incessantly asked about Venezuela’s “brilliant” president.

This is partly thanks to the BBC, which seems to fall over backwards to try and portray anyone who is anti-Bush in good light. It was the BBC that aired “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”, and they rarely miss a chance to describe him as charismatic.

The recent Chavez interview by Robin Lustig didn’t cover any hot topic but was instead a chance for Hugo to air his voice on this side of the Atlantic.

2:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A better headline would have been "Venezuela gives US cheap oil deal, WHY?" The idea of low income is variable but always stated as if it were a universal measure, equal from one end of the globe to the other. What does it mean when Chavez, the leader of a country where the average citizen is not as well off as a "Low Income" resident of MA, starts crediting himself with giving oil away "free" to people who are better off? (materially, at least) Why doesn't the BBC bother to point out that Chavez is "giving away" Venezuela's national treasure to people who are much richer than his own? Ironically, this is getting very little press coverage here in MA. One short story, one day, and it was over. I'm not sure who Chavez is trying to buy with this oil but he did not get much bang for his buck here.

4:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, it’s me the Venezuelan American again.

I pointed that out in the BBC's Have Your Say section and unfortunately didn't get published.

In all fairness BBC’s coverage of Chavez is marginally more balanced nowadays, at one point they never wrote or said anything even remotely negative about him and portrayed him as a champion for the poor righting many wrongs in an unfair society.

Now at least they do publish a few slightly embarrassing stories about Chavez, like: However, they make no mention of it being in response to paper skeletons being placed around Caracas as a protest against him, nor do they mention his constant racist reteric against American culture and the fact that he described it as “una costumbre gringa”, and “gringa/o” is a slightly demeaning word.

5:07 PM  

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