“What was frightening about these trials was not the fact that they happened… but the eagerness of Western intellectuals to justify them.”
– George Orwell, ‘Arthur Koestler – The Darkness at Noon’ – 1941
I hear you have finally broken your English-language silence of over 750 days on Venezuela. Some questions:
1) In 2008 Human Rights Watch was expelled from the country by force. Why didn’t you feel the need to mention this in any article you wrote?
2) Who paid for that ‘Election Observer’ trip you went on in 2012, and why was it not UN or EU-organised but one by Chavez-backed ‘UNASUR’?
3) Why did you consistently repeat Chavismo’s lofty claims about oil production, poverty rate etc despite many economists warning otherwise?
4) Why did you contribute to the demonisation of Venezuela’s opposition by repeating Chavismo propaganda tarring all with ‘CIA coup’ etc?
5) Did it ever cross your mind from 2012 onwards that Chavez referring to Kim Jong-il as a “comrade” he mourned might be a warning sign?
6) Did Chavez’s hero-worship of Fidel Castro and claims he wanted to turn Venezuela into ‘Venecuba’ ever cause you any concerns?
7) Did Chavez’s suppression of independent trade unions, social democratic parties and NGOs ever prick your conscience as a leftist?
8) Did Chavez’s hours-long rambling speeches which TV stations were forced to broadcast ever strike you as disturbing or suggest he was mad?
9) Did the fleeing of tens of thousands of Venezuelan citizens to neighbouring countries strike you as odd or unsettling at all?
10) In your three years of writing praise and apologetics for Chavez, did you ever read any Human Rights Watch or Amnesty reports – at all?
11) Did you think it honest, decent and proper to take part in a propaganda tour in 2012 organised by the Venezuelan Embassy in the U.K.?
“… In addition to our Venezuelan guests plus Ambassador Samuel Moncada, a fantastic array of speakers includes: Owen Jones; Seumas Milne; Ken Livingstone; Esther Armenteros (Cuba); Alicia Castro (Argentina); Frances O’Grady (TUC) & Jeremy Corbyn MP.”
12) Did you ever tell people who went to those speaking events about the collectivos? Were you aware of the collectivos, Owen?
13) Did you support the Chavismo policy of taking street gangs, politically indoctrinating them then turning them loose with their guns?
14) Did you ever mention to your readers that Chavez was a 9/11 Truther, a Moon Landing hoaxer, and believed the CIA had given him cancer?
15) In other words, a psychologically disturbed crackpot whose spiritual successor is probably Donald Trump?
16) Did you think it ethical to propagandise on behalf of this regime, knowing as you did the history of the USSR and the Useful Idiots?
17) Given you mentioned the Useful Idiots and insisted you weren’t, did you read anything by Caracas Chronicles or a non-Chavismo NGO?
18) Do you feel any sense of moral responsibility for acting as an apologist and legitimiser for a regime now starving its people to death?
19) Do you feel any pangs of conscience? Do you feel a sense of remorse? Do you think of the people whose lives Chavismo has ruined?
20) Do you feel any obligation to your readers whom you spent 2012-15 misinforming about Venezuela only to then go silent on the subject?
21) Do you recognise that for your young and unworldly readers, you were their main source on Venezuela at the time? That they trusted you?
21) Did you stop talking about Venezuela in 2014-15 out of shame, guilt, embarrassment or just political expediency?
22) If yourself and Jeremy Corbyn had been listened to in 2012-15, the UK could now look like Venezuela. Why should you be listened to now?
23) Can you name a single Tory, Lib Dem or New Labour MP who said that Saudi Arabia was so amazing that it should be emulated in the UK?
24) Can you explain why you have deserted the subject of socialism in Venezuela and your ‘solidarity’ with it until forced to speak on it?
25) Finally, why did you live your life from 2015 onwards ‘as if’ nothing happened? As if you did not personally cheer on this catastrophe?
Those are my questions. Call me an Obsessive Angry Detractor if you want. Your right to self-righteous self-pity is now as bankrupt as Venezuela.