LA Times Story On Venezuela Gas Prices Avoids the S-Word — And Reality

If form holds, the Democratic Party's presidential candidates in the U.S. will continue to spout various forms of socialism and class warfare as the answers to this nation's woes in hopes of buying enough "free stuff" votes to hang on to the White House.

Venezuela's apparent imminent economic collapse poses a problem for this strategy. The country's problems are the direct result of 15 years of socialism gone wild at the hands of Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro. So how is the left-favoring press going to handle the meltdown? If coverage of that nation's recent gas-price hike at the Los Angeles Times is any indication, they'll avoid describing the country as "socialist," and they'll try to downplay the unfolding disaster as much as possible.

The February 19 story by Mery Mogollon and Chris Kraul has a bizarre headline, fails to mention the S-word, and only would concede that after Maduro's move, Venezuela "remains in danger of defaulting" (bolds are mine throughout this post):

At 15 cents a gallon, it's the cheapest gas in the world -- yet Venezuela worries

(NOTE: The headline seems to tell readers that Venzuelans are worrying over nothing, so there's no good reason to read on. — Ed.)

An air of caution and concern hung in the air as gasoline prices in Venezuela shot up Friday to 15 cents a gallon – a paltry amount elsewhere but a startling increase in this oil-rich yet financially-beaten country.

The price had been less than a tenth of a penny per gallon the day before, and history showed how abruptly Venezuela’s mood could shift when the price of gasoline was adjusted upward. More than 1,000 people were killed in a week-long riot in the late 1980s when there was an effort to raise prices.

... Many in this oil-rich nation believe cheap gasoline is their birthright. In 1989, the effort to raise gasoline prices touched off a series of bus fare hikes that in turn provoked the “Caracazo” riots in the capital that left as many as 1,200 dead.

Fearful of stoking violence again, governments since then have only raised the price once, keeping it frozen since 1994. Inflation over the years has reduced the real value to virtually nothing.

... The price increase is expected to reduce the government subsidy by $2 billion, a savings that will be applied to importing more food, Maduro said. Scarcities of basic foods are forcing Venezuelans to wait for hours in line to buy groceries.

The measure was part of a series of “adjustments” Maduro announced Wednesday to try to ease Venezuela’s severe economic crisis. At the same time, the central bank announced that the economy shrank 5.7% last year and that inflation averaged 190%, the highest in the world.

... Analysts including Jose Manuel Puente, an economist at the IESA think tank and graduate school in Caracas, believe Venezuela remains in danger of defaulting on foreign bond debt payments later this year, despite Maduro’s austerity measures.

“These adjustments are very late and very incomplete,” Puente said. “The country has only $2 billion in cash foreign reserves, and these measures do nothing to help it meet debt payments coming due this year that amount to $11 billion.”

That final excerpted sentence is a deliberately vague way of saying, absent intervention by the likes of the tooth fairy, that default is imminent.

Of course, the pair of Times reporters never bothered to explain why Venezualans must "wait for hours in line to buy groceries," when most other people throughout the world don't face such hardships. That's because they never included the dreaded "S-word" (socialist) to describe Venezuela's government. Additionally, the pair gave their story a "South America" tag instead of tagging it "Venezuela," even though only two other South American countries (out of a dozen others) was mentioned, and only peripherally.

Even Hannah Dreier at the Associated Press, who has all too often indulged the Venezuelan regime and given its ridiculous claims and blame-gaming equal time with common sense, recognized how futile Maduro's measures are, and wasn't afraid to use the S-word:

VENEZUELA TAKING TINY STEPS TOWARD FIXING ECONOMY

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro has announced long-awaited economic reforms, but analysts say they'll barely have any effect in rescuing the economy.

The socialist president raised gasoline prices and devalued one of the oil country's multiple exchange rates Wednesday. He assured supporters the steps don't amount to a dramatic austerity scheme.

Analysts agree. They say the modest adjustments have no hope of bringing in the money Venezuela needs to save its crashing economy.

Getting back to the situation in the U.S., the less the average person here knows about Venezuela's calamity and its causes, the more viable the campaign of either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders will be. Thus, we can generally expect U.S. establishment press coverage avoidance — and when it does occur, for the S-word to usually be absent.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.