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In its Feb. 28 edition, The Col­legian pub­lished an op-ed titled, “Venezuela: A country at the peak of history,” written by Juan Her­nandez. The essay con­tains blatant false­hoods and many more decon­tex­tu­alized asser­tions that make clear Hernandez’s anti-Maduro bias and failure to care­fully evaluate infor­mation.

According to Her­nandez, “it’s no secret” that Venezuela rep­re­sents one of the “last bas­tions” fraught with “socialist ideas.” Later, he wrote, “The hoax of a socialist par­adise has been, at last, unmasked.”

Maybe it’s a secret to him, but Venezuela’s economy func­tions far from a “socialist par­adise.” According to The Her­itage Foun­dation, Venezuela’s “overall tax burden equals 14.9 percent of total domestic income.” The overall tax burden in the United States is 26 percent of its total domestic income.

Sim­i­larly, only 18 percent of Venezuela’s labor force works in the public sector, com­pared to 14 percent in the U.S., 22 percent in France, and 29 percent in Norway. Venezuela’s economy is mostly private, with a similar public-private dis­tri­b­ution to that of Canada and the United Kingdom.

Hernandez’s most egre­gious error appeared when he char­ac­terized a dispute over trucks belonging to the U.S. Agency for Inter­na­tional Devel­opment attempting to cross from Colombia into Venezuela.

“The ongoing human­i­tarian crisis in Venezuela led to a massive response from the inter­na­tional com­munity,” Her­nandez wrote.

This is true: The inter­na­tional com­munity, including Russia, China, Cuba, and the Inter­na­tional Red Cross, con­tinue to help Venezuela at dif­ferent points during its eco­nomic crisis. The U.S., on the other hand, only offered “aid” once it announced in January that it would back Juan Guaido, the leader of the leg­is­lature, as the pres­ident of Venezuela.

Unsur­pris­ingly, Pres­ident Nicolas Maduro’s admin­is­tration denied the aid, citing con­cerns that the aid was not offered in good faith, but rather only for political reasons. The Red Cross agreed with Maduro, saying they wouldn’t par­tic­ipate in aid with political motives.

Finally, jour­nalists and offi­cials also expressed the pos­si­bility that USAID could contain weapon ship­ments for Venezuelan oppo­sition gangs, which grad­uated from violent protests a few years ago to attempted assas­si­na­tions of the pres­ident last year.

Sounds crazy, right? Think again. USAID was caught in 1987 secretly shipping $27 million worth of weapons to the Contras, even after the group had com­mitted mass atroc­ities throughout Nicaragua. The shipment was spear­headed by then-Assistant Sec­retary of State Elliott Abrams; Abrams was appointed by Pres­ident Donald Trump in January to lead the USAID envoy to Venezuela. Her­nandez failed to mention any of this.

Even worse, Her­nandez recited a fake report — the most credible version of which exists on Sen. Marco Rubio’s Twitter feed — about the con­frontation between Venezuelan border security and the masked youths escorting USAID trucks from Colombia.

“As the trucks crossed the border, two of them were burned down by the Venezuelan dic­ta­torial armed forces,” Her­nandez wrote. It’s hard to pin down the origin of this alle­gation because it’s false.

Two of the trucks did burn, but had Her­nandez cared to check any­where besides the U.S. state department, he would have found a video of a masked youth, while escorting the trucks that never did cross the border, throw a molotov which landed too far from the border security and too close to the USAID. Within minutes, the trucks became engulfed in flames, and the nar­rative fell into place: “Geno­cidal dic­tator” Maduro strikes again.

In Hernandez’s defense, the New York Times reported this story a few weeks after the fact. But the video was available the day of the incident, and it was even reported the day after by non-main­stream inves­tigative outlets.

Since the USAID fiasco, Rubio has made a few other false alle­ga­tions via Twitter, including a claim that 80 neonatal babies died in a Venezuelan hos­pital due to a blackout (the hos­pital has since con­firmed no such thing occurred).

While it’s dif­ficult to know what’s hap­pening in Venezuela because of under­re­porting, that’s no excuse to avoid due dili­gence. We should strive to tell the truth rather than devising nar­ra­tives to fit a certain political agenda.