On Monday, October 21, the AULA blog published by the Center for Latin American and Latino Studies at American University had a post describing “[t]he dire state of the economy” in Venezuela that contained several errors:
- The authors state that “The opposition estimates an annual inflation rate of 49.4 percent.” This is actually the official inflation rate for September 2012-September 2013, from the Venezuelan Central Bank – not an opposition estimate. It’s also a sign that the authors are not familiar with the basic economic statistics of the country that they are writing about – in this case, one that was reported in all of the major news outlets in the Western Hemisphere a couple of weeks ago.
- Much worse, they assert that Venezuela had “a 29.9 percent increase in the poverty rate last year.” In fact, Venezuela’s household poverty rate declined by 20 percent last year, almost certainly the largest decline in poverty in the Americas. (The authors cite the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, but ECLAC does not have figures for last year, and ECLAC uses the same household survey data as the Venezuelan government, so it will show the same result in poverty when it analyzes this data. The World Bank has already posted the 2012 poverty data for Venezuela, showing the sharp decline in poverty for the year.)
Since the main analysis at the beginning of the article, about an alleged struggle between “pragmatists” and “ideologues” within the government, contains no links, references, or sources, the reader is left to wonder if this narrative is also fictional. The piece ends with speculation about a possible military coup.
It’s true that most major media outlets have reached the point where there are practically no standards for reporting on Venezuela. But this is a blog published by a university department, so we would expect higher standards than those of, e.g. Fox News. There are plenty of haters around; in fact the vast majority of people who write about Venezuela hate the government. It is surprising that this blog cannot find people who are better informed to express these views, or at least hire a student as fact-checker.