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When rumors started swirling months ago that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez had died, one Venezuelan citizen penned a passionate commentary. A piece he saved for the day that Chavez died.
Juan Francisco De León, a music teacher who lives in Caracas part-time, published his thousand-word commentary in the form of a comment on CNN’s Chavez obituary on Monday. His comment caught our eye and we invited him to share his perspective on CNN iReport.
De León’s words resonated with a wide audience. In less than 24 hours, "10 reasons why I will not miss Chavez" has received almost 150,000 views and more than 26,000 Facebook recommends.
As this iReport got so much attention, we decided to take a closer look at the sources and statistics he’s citing in his argument and offer a fact check:
TRUE AND FALSE: Even from your death bed, you had a Supreme Court justice fired because she didn't agree with your politics.
De León was correct that Chavez fired a judge, but it wasn’t a Supreme Court justice. Judge María Lourdes Afiuni was arrested in December 2009, and other judges were fired, but she is not a Supreme Court justice, according to Human Rights Watch. Then-Supreme Court justice Eladio Aponte, who is male, was fired from the National Assembly for alleged links to a drug suspect in March 2012.
TRUE AND FALSE: In 14 years, our homicide rate more than tripled from 22/100K to 74/100K. While judges were busy trying to prove their political allegiance to you, only 11% of homicides led to a conviction.
De León is right – the homicide rate in Venezuela tripled – but the numbers are different. There were 67 homicide victims per 100,000 in 2012, up from 19 victims per 100,000 in 1998, when Chavez took office. That’s according to the LA Times.
FALSE: 10.7% of Venezuelans are in extreme poverty.
Depending on how you define extreme poverty, the numbers vary. As of 2011, 31.6% of Venezuelans live below the poverty line, according to the CIA World Factbook. But, according to "official government figures" in a Guardian analysis from October 2012, there were 8.5% of Venezuelans living in extreme poverty in 2011.
CNN confirmed the following claims from De León’s iReport:
TRUE: In 14 years you built less public housing than any president before you did in their 5 year periods. Hospitals today have no resources, and if you go there in an emergency you must bring with you everything from medicines to surgical gloves and masks.
TRUE: When you took office, the price of oil was $9.30, and in 2008 it reached $126.33.
TRUE: You shut down more than 30 radio and television stations for being critical of your government.
TRUE (of course, “manipulated” is an opinion): You manipulated the elections in 2010 to make sure the opposition didn't get more than a third of seats in Parliament even though they got 51% of the popular vote.
Like most iReporters, De León isn't a trained journalist. But he’s someone who has been active in online discussions about Venezuela, and we're glad he shared his personal views with CNN.
Numbers aside, De León's sentiment stands and his commentary rang true with many readers. We invite you to read his perspective and weigh in with your thoughts on Chavez.
im glad hes dead
Very good points made and contradict those trying to make Chavez out as a "champion" or a "hero".
Wow! That's a first! Love it!
muy buen comentario pero en si tiene razón en todo lo que dice de nuestro país prácticamente lo dividió en dos partes una de alegría y otro de odio porque digo esto nosotros los Venezolanos nunca habíamos tenido tanto odio y discusiones entre nosotros mismo y el país esta acabado tanto políticamente y financiero este es mi comentario