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THE NEW YORK TIMES
Letters: Venezuela's Democracy, and Ours
April 17, 2002
To the Editor:
Re "Bush Officials Met With Venezuelans Who Ousted Leader" (front page, April 16):
After Sept. 11, many Americans found themselves astonished at the level of resentment felt around the world against the United States. Events in Venezuela should give Americans a clue as to one of the reasons for this resentment: American hypocrisy in its foreign policy.
Americans have long declared democracy and human rights to be the cornerstones of their foreign policy. But when given an opportunity in Venezuela to denounce an undemocratic coup, the United States chose to blame President Hugo Chávez for bringing it upon himself.
Latin America doesn't have as short a memory as America does. We remember America's support for Pinochet of Chile, Somoza of Nicaragua and Trujillo of the Dominican Republic. We see how the United States Navy treats the people of Vieques. Venezuela is only the latest proof of what we have suspected all along: that America cannot be counted on to help us defend democracy if this defense contravenes its interests.
LUIS E. HESTRES
Washington, April 16, 2002