Monday, October 30, 2006

Ugly and Uglier

Here's how Adam Davidson, on Morning Edition, described the Bolivian Supreme Decree 28701 and its implementation of May 1, 2006:

"It all started six months ago this week. The populist leader Evo Morales told all foreign companies they had exploited his country and they had to hand over control of almost everything they own in Bolivia or else they’d be forced out of the country at gunpoint. They had to do this by November 1st. To make things clear he sent army troops to surround many of the gas fields. Things were ugly and soon got uglier. "

Here are a few problems with Adam Davidson's biased, sloppy, and distorted report:
  • "six months ago" - The seizing of Bolivia's gas resources occured in the 1990s in a massive privatization of five state owned gas companies organized by the World Bank and IMF.
  • "almost everything they own" - Davidson apparently just made this up. It is nowhere in the decree (which I read through in Spanish). This type of exaggeration was common in press coverage back in May of 2006.
  • "forced out of the country at gunpoint" - Sounds dramatic, but Davidson again is writing fiction. I have yet to see or hear of any such threat from the Bolivian government.
  • "to make things clear he sent army troops" - Pure opinion on Davidson's part. It is as reasonable to assume that, knowing his history of South America, Morales feared that significant assets would be removed by the gas companies and the army was sent in to prevent such theft or sabotage.
  • "Things were ugly and soon got uglier." - Davidson doesn't give one fact to back this up. Was anyone arrested, killed, harassed, deported?
Davidson ends the report describing today's deals signed in Bolivia. He says of President Morales that "he gets majority ownership of the fields." Where this comes from I have no idea. Morales himself gets nothing from the deals. The deal affects state control and revenue. Portraying Morales as personally profiting from the deal is a lie and a smear.

Yes something was ugly and got uglier. But it wasn't what happened in Bolivia.


Anonymous said...

Great summary! It's often easy to let words flow over us without thinking critically about the biases being inserted into our psyches.

Porter Melmoth said...

Mytwords, you should slam your analysis of this story onto NPR itself, if you haven't already, and see what they say.

bluetaco said...

Me gusta! As I have said before, this is typical of NPR's coverage of "our backyard". Sounds like Davidson never left the Hilton Hotel bar for this story!