10 February 2010

More on Hugo Chavez in Wikipedia

Wikipedia is often criticised as unreliable. However noble the original idea of Jimbo Wales, re anyone's ability to contribute and build the largest online encyclopaedia, it remains a fact that is prone to attract, well, anyone willing to add a point of view on a given topic. As Venezuelans are only painfully aware, Hugo Chavez has been attempting to rewrite history, building this notion that, before him, the country was almost uninhabitable, owing to the excesses of a political class that behaved worse than Roman emperors. Needless to say that such simplistic and misinformed notion can only be the product of an utterly ignorant mind. However, there are those who are willing, for ideological and financial reasons, to buy into Chavez's revisionism. These true believers command an editorial power within Wikipedia, in entries related to Chavez or Venezuela, that proves critics' point regarding the encyclopaedia's unreliability. There are many examples that demonstrate that Wikipedia has become, for all intents and purpose, another propaganda outlet of Chavez's growing media empire. Be it the Venezuela Information Office, Eva Golinger, Mark Weisbrot, or Venezuelanalysis, chavista editors have succeeded in deleting information that, while perfectly sourced according to Wikipedia's editorial policy, does not comply with the version officially promoted by the Chavez regime. A perfect showcase of  double speak and circularity of argumentation of these editors can be seen in a very long discussion related to Venezuelanalysis, posted in its Reliable Sources Noticeboard.

But then, it is worth pondering upon the reasons why propagandistic views of totally obscure editors, whose credentials no one knows for certain, can be imposed in Wikipedia entries, as opposed to verifiable facts published by truly reputable sources. With regards to Venezuelanalysis in particular, a site officially funded and run by chavista fundamentalists, readers are meant to take views of its editor as valid counter arguments, for instance, to reports produced after two years of research by Human Rights Watch. Only true believers will give any consideration to such untenable positions. However, more disturbing still, is to realise that one of the two editors (other being Rd232) who patrol and protect Chavez entries in the English Wikipedia, known as JRSP, has in the past edited out factual information from Gustavo Cisneros' Wikipedia entry. Tellingly, editors that safeguard Chavez image, also look after Cisneros and terrorist and assassin Rodriguez Chacín Wikipedia entries. Surely, a reliably chavista encyclopaedia!


firepig said...


This subject is a very important one and it scares the living daylights out of me.

Chavismo(in one way or another), big or small, subtle or not so subtle , extends itself way beyond the frontiers- or is it the opposite? I think it is the opposite.

Factual information is getting harder and harder to come by when it concerns Venezuela.It is sometimes hard to convince certain types people here in the US of the reality in Venezuela, when they keep reading so much propaganda.

AB said...

HI Firepig, thanks for dropping by. I think I am going to disagree with you on this one, with regards to factual information. Indeed nowadays, factual information is what comes out of Venezuela. If you have trouble explaining to people in the US the reality of our country, all you need to do is to direct them to any of the reputed and major news outlets, such as NYT, WaPo, BBC, CNN, Reuters, Bloomberg, The Economist, FT, FP, Amnesty International, HRW, IACHR, EU... mind you, beyond the confines of Wikipedia, where a couple of fundamentalists are trying to "tapar el sol con un dedo", no one buys into Chavez's bullshit any longer.

The very notion of an infallible man leading a cult points at the derangement of his followers and supporters. As Juan said the other day at CC: there's no normal people left in chavismo.

firepig said...


Thanks for the reply.

As for 'no normal people left in Chavismo' I agree but I don't think most other people are entirely normal either.Many have the same problems Chavistas do. Most people in general everywhere tend to think in terms of what their chosen groups think and not what each as individuals think; and often this leads to extreme thought and the accepting of the unacceptable- as nothing exists in a vacuum.

Regarding BBC, I notice a subtle bias concerning Venezuela that often appears as they are reporting the " facts" but do not necessarily agree.This becomes a subtle influence of support when you do not come out and say you are against,and especially when you are reporting specially chosen facts and not other certain facts.It is the way the BBC words things that to me that is so damaging.One can state certain facts and omit others.One can show oneself with anti bias in politics and at the same time subtly biased in the truth....etc.

I know Chavismo is a cult, and I have always known it,however I think there are many people inside and outside of Venezuela, who believe in what he says even though they do not truly approve of him because of the nature of the groups they themselves belong to.Maybe not in how he does things, but they believe in his basic principles and in his 'intention'.

Also, most importantly it took so long for these so called reputable sources to become a bit informed that by the time they did, most people outside Venezuela who are prone to believe in this kind of revolution, had already formed their opinions and it is a fact that once people form an opinion they tend to repeat their thoughts
over and over again despite new evidence.It takes a lot to change.Even if they try to change, lurking in the back of their minds is a big doubt.This is the nature of most lazy thinking and the nature of group thinking in particular.

I maintain a hawkish attitude towards journalism in general.

Good luck to you.

AB said...

Well, again, what people outside of Venezuela, with their racism and their failed utopias, think about our country changes little. They can edit Wikipedia all they like, or use double speak until Cuba becomes a democratic nation, but the day will come, I hope, when Venezuelans get fed up and give Chavez what he deserves. Propaganda rags will not change that.

firepig said...


"I hope, when Venezuelans get fed up and give Chavez what he deserves"


StJacques said...

I've been aware of the propagandizing intent of Wikipedia "editors" for some time now, and I have seen the damage they have done to the presentation of factual information on Chavez before. I even watched updates between editors going back and forth on Chavez a couple of years ago, which had to be moderated and, in my opinion, were not handled very well at all. And I was downright outraged at the version of Colombian history, re: the FARC, that was maintained on the site for some time. There's no other way to describe what was presented there as anything other than downright lies.

But the very worst damage I have seen done to the truth on that site dealt with the historical account of Castro's imprisonment and execution of Cuban dissidents in the 1960's. They had a virtual meltdown at Wikipedia on that one. I have no idea where it stands today.

I gave up on Wikipedia and Latin American history a while back. If they want to lie, then I'll just call them liars.



StJacques said...

Well I just could not resist coming back to post a second comment because I had to go and look at the Wikipedia page on the FARC as it now stands. Truth be told, they have cleaned up a lot of what used to be there regarding the attempt to explain the FARC after the early 1990's as a "parallel" story to be told in tandem with the Paras, the latter of whom are emphasized much less in the current version. They also have dropped numerous false claims I remember which used to be part of the section covering the FARC during the Andrés Pastrana presidency, which frankly was once most outrageous.

But there is still this on the page, and it's there twice:  "It funds itself principally through kidnappings and taxation of the illegal drug trade."

Taxation? Oh, so they're not actually directly involved in the drug trade themselves, are they? (If true, this would help to lend credence to their claim that they are legitimate political actors). No; one might assume from what's written on Wikipedia that they're not involved directly in the drug trade, they just tax it.


Read what the U.S.D.E.A. has to say:

The FARC employs a wide variety of tactics to meet its goals and has greatly emphasized its guerrilla military capability. It engages in traditional terrorism and criminal activities, financing itself through kidnapping, ransoms, extortion, and drug trafficking, which includes taxation, cultivation, protection of labs and traffickers, controlling some local cocaine base markets and HCl labs, transportation, and coordinating the sale of cocaine.

And notice the tactic of deception employed on the Wikipedia page of not using "just" or "only" to preface what they write of the FARC's taxation of the drug trade. It's not false, but highly misleading. And there's a lot more on that page that bothers me still, but it obviously has been cleaned up significantly from what I remember.

But of course, I am considered biased because I believe the DEA's version.

Sorry if I'm pontificating here, but the subject of the treatment of the FARC in internet news sources has bothered me for some time.



AB said...

Thanks for dropping by StJacques. On the subject of FARC, check what I wrote back in 2005:

So Why Would The FARC Host Its Site In Europe?

14.11.05 | Isn't it obvious? For, in what other 'civilised territory' does appeasement towards terrorism constitute general praxis? The website of Colombia's narcoterrorist group FARC was registered, according to WHOIS, by one Orlando Higuita of Netzwerk Resistencia. Server services are provided by a Swiss outfit by the name of SWIX.CH, which provides free hosting services. The IP address related to the domain points to RIPE Network Coordination Centre, a company in Amsterdam. The registrant's email address is netzwerkresistencia@hotmail.com and there is even a telephone number (+41.14562315) of Orlando Higuita...

Alas the FARC have many fans and supporters worldwide, including the president of Venezuela and his regime, despite the unspeakable atrocities they have perpetrated over the years. Fucking Sarkozy pledged for Granda's liberation, and he ended up in Cuba. Mind you this is the same man who plotted Cecilia Cubas kidnap and assassination.

Uribe may be many things, as any caudillo I am sure he has many negatives sides to him, however, only because of what he has done to FARC he deserves worldwide gratitude. Certainly mine. In this world of pusillanimous politicians we live in, the one willing to go head on with narco terrorists is worthy of all praise.

StJacques said...

Well I certainly agree with your take on the FARC Alek. I lived in Colombia for about eleven months and I first learned about them from the Colombians themselves and while I heard so much that was negative, I never heard one Colombian say anything good about them.

Which is not to say that there are no Colombians who think anything positive about the FARC, they just know that the overwhelming body of opinion in their country is so opposed to them that they stay quiet.

Here in the U.S. there are a number of leftists I have met who idolize the FARC and start to tell me "Jacob, you need to learn Colombian history," and the conversation usually never goes much further than that because I know my Colombian history quite well, and my exchanges with them put this into perspective rather quickly, at which point they shut up.

Uribe has done a lot of good, but I wish he would have dropped the idea of a third term. There is a developing class of leaders in Colombia who are competent to take over from him.

I appreciate the quote you posted. That does help put things into perspective.



AB said...

Uribe has done a lot of good, but I wish he would have dropped the idea of a third term...

Couldn't agree more with you there. I reckon the biggest enemy of any caudillo is that within...

Kepler said...

I have a Venezuelan friend in Bogotá who says the same as Jacques. He has been living there for ten years now, I think.

I have also tried to mak things in Wikipedia more neutral. It was frustrating, so I left it, but then I saw I could modify some things in a very punctual way. So, from time to time I get into one very specific line with several sources, preferably something from The Economist or Spiegel or The Guardian.

There is a US American who is administrator and has done a fantastic job cleaning articles, but it is only her.

The last article I started to clean was Primero de Justicia's article in German.

I added the Swastika attack (and obviously Germans one way or the other are going to be particularly shocked), the PJ member murdered by chavistas.
Still, there is more cleaning needed, but I will do that another time.

AB said...

... I get into one very specific line with several sources, preferably something from The Economist or Spiegel or The Guardian...

But Kepler, those sources you mention, which enjoyed utmost reputation around the world, aren't to be trusted by chavista editors, just get a load of what Rd232 has to say about them:

"El Pais, NYT, BBC, Le Monde, The Guardian are only "left" sources in some rightwing fantasy world (don't be fooled by the odd lefty(ish) op-ed - it's the news reporting we're talking about). The Guardian's Caracas correspondent lives in the same opposition media bubble as all the rest of the foreign correspondents; take the name and source off his reports and you couldn't distinguish it from the copy of the AP reporters sitting next to him..."

That's one for the ages, innit?

Kepler said...

I know, I know, I have read worse:
El País and the Guardian are fascist blablabla...
Still: they would have a hell of a time trying to delete quotes from those sources.

Look here, I added the part about Hugo using The Guardian and Spiegel (I am "Periergeia"). Some had tried before but both publications are just too well known, so as much as chavistas want to say anything about them, they have to let them be:

AB said...

Oye Kepler, echale un vistazo a la paginita de propaganda que le montaron a la Eva Golinger en Wikipedia en español.

Unknown said...

Why do people idolize Hugo Chavez and Che Guevara? They’re both AWFUL!


The bottom line is that Chavez is a clown (albeit a very dangerous one) and anyone who follows him or Che Guevara is a misguided, lost soul desperate for a strong figure to latch onto.

Kepler said...

I did. Very pathetic article. She just forgot to post a picture of her smiling at the camera. I wonder if she posted it from her Pc or she went to an Internet café, just not to leave a track.