- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 24, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

“Chavez hit hard by cheap oil” (Web, World, Monday) reads more like the talking points of Venezuela’s opposition parties than a news article based on facts.

The article suggests that Venezuela’s international development programs are losing appeal at home because of lowered oil prices. However, the only evidence of this is provided by a single source, a well-known figure in the political opposition.

The article fails to mention that Venezuela has development agreements with many countries that are allies of the U.S., in addition to supposed foes. Venezuela has signed energy-cooperation agreements with all but two Caribbean countries and has provided humanitarian assistance to the neediest, such as Haiti. Central and South American nations have agreements with Venezuela on pressing issues like food security.

The biggest beneficiaries of the policies of the Chavez government, though, have been Venezuelan citizens. Programs providing free health care and education have contributed to a 32 percent drop in poverty and raised the quality of life. This record of improving conditions at home has fueled Mr. Chavez’s electoral wins and high approval ratings.

OLIVIA GOUMBRI

Executive director

Venezuela Information Office

Washington

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