Oliver Stone Exposes NYT's Distorted Latin America Coverage, Rebuts Paper's Attacks
Continued from previous page
4) Rohter tries to frame the film's treatment of the 2002 coup in Venezuela as a "conspiracy theory." He writes:
" Like Mr. Stone's take on the Kennedy assassination, this section of "South of the Border" hinges on the identity of a sniper or snipers who may or may not have been part of a larger conspiracy."
This description of the film is completely false. The film makes no statement on the identity of the snipers nor does it present any theory of a "larger conspiracy" with any snipers. Rather, the film makes two points about the coup: (1) That the Venezuelan media (and this was repeated by U.S. and other international media) manipulated film footage to make it look as if a group of Chavez supporters with guns had shot the 19 people killed on the day of the coup. This manipulation of the film footage is demonstrated very clearly in the film, and therefore does not " [rely] heavily on the account of Gregory Wilpert" as Rohter also falsely alleges. The footage speaks for itself. (2) The United States government was involved in the coup (see http://southoftheborderdoc.com/2002-venezuela-coup/ and below).
Ironically, it is Rohter that relies on conspiracy theories, citing one dubious account in particular that he argues we should have included in the film.
5) Rohter accuses us of "bend[ing] facts and omit[ting] information" on Argentina, for allowing "Mr. Kirchner and his successor - and wife - Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to claim that "we began a different policy than before."
"In reality, Mr. Kirchner's presidential predecessor, Eduardo Duhalde, and Mr. Duhalde's finance minister, Roberto Lavagna, were the architects of that policy shift and the subsequent economic recovery, which began while Mr. Kirchner was still the obscure governor of a small province in Patagonia."
This criticism is somewhat obscure and perhaps ridiculous. The Kirchners were in the presidency for five out of the six years of Argentina's remarkable economic recovery, in which the economy grew by 63 percent. Some of the policies that allowed for that recovery began in 2002, and others began in 2003, and even later. What exactly are the "bent facts" and "omitted information" here?
6) Rohter tries to make an issue out of the fact that the logo of Human Rights Watch appears for a couple of seconds on the screen, during a discussion of Washington's double standards on human rights. The film doesn't say or imply anything about HRW. Most importantly, in his interview with Rohter, HRW's Americas director José Miguel Vivanco backs up exactly what the film does say, that there is a double standard in the U.S. that focuses on allegations of human rights abuses in Venezuela while ignoring or downplaying far graver, far more numerous, and better substantiated allegations about human rights abuses in Colombia: "It's true that many of Chávez's fiercest critics in Washington have turned a blind eye to Colombia's appalling human rights record," says Vivanco.
7) Rohter attacks co-writer Tariq Ali for saying that "The government [of Bolivia] decided to sell the water supply of Cochabamba to Bechtel, a U.S. corporation." Rohter writes: "In reality, the government did not sell the water supply: it granted a consortium that included Bechtel a 40-year management concession . . ."
Rohter is really reaching here. "Selling the water supply" to private interests is a fair description of what happened here, about as good for practical purposes as "granting a 40-year management concession." The companies got control over the city's water supply and the revenue that can be gained from selling it.