OAS Criticizes US Interference in Nicaragua’s Election, But the New York Times and the Washington Post Don’t Think It’s Newsworthy

Last weekend, election monitors from the Organization of American States criticized the Bush Administration’s interference in Nicaragua’s upcoming presidential election.

Here’s how you would have known this if you follow mainstream news sources in the United States: if you saw the Reuters story on Yahoo News (http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20061022/wl_nm/nicaragua_usa_dc).

Here’s how you wouldn’t have known it: from reading the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/) or the Washington Post(http://www.washingtonpost.com/), even on their web sites, even though they both subscribe to Reuters, and carry lots of Reuters articles on their web sites. Go to their web sites and try to find it.

Of course, you could have heard it on Democracy Now (http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=06/10/24/1412238). Or perhaps you saw the story in on the Chinese Xinhua (http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2006-10/23/content_5237159.htm).

If you have access to Nexis, search English language news for Nicaragua and Organization of American States. See for yourself how slim the pickings are.

Let me be clear that the U.S. media have not completely ignored the story of U.S. interference in Nicaragua’s election. Writing for Newsday on October 24, Letta Tayler (http://www.newsday.com/news/columnists/ny-wonica244946097oct24,0,377203.story) wrote, “the Organization of American States last month condemned foreign governments for “intervening actively” in the election, a statement believed aimed at both Washington and Caracas.” Writing for the Austin-American Statesman on October 22,(http://www.statesman.com/search/content/news/stories/world/10/22/22ortega.html) Jeremy Schwartz wrote, “The Organization of American States last month criticized foreign governments for meddling in the election. While the OAS statement didn’t single out any countries, it was clearly aimed at the United States and Venezuela.”

But: how come only these two papers tell us this important information, and why no update for the new OAS statement? Unlike the previous statement, in this statement the OAS explicitly named the U.S. and explicitly named specific U.S. officials. As the Reuters story informs us: ” ‘Given the separate declarations by [U.S. Commerce Secretary] Carlos Gutierrez and [U.S. Ambassador] Paul Trivelli about the Nicaraguan electoral contest, the OAS Mission feels obliged to reiterate the spirit and the text of the aforementioned declaration,’ the OAS said.’

In other words: we were diplomatic before, but you clearly ignored us, so we’re ramping up our criticism. Isn’t this newsworthy, given the past role of the United States in interfering in the democratic process in Latin America generally and in Nicaragua in particular? Don’t we have a right, an obligation, to know about this?

And consider this: in response to a letter from Americans to the U.S. Ambassador organized by Quest for Peace (http://quest.quixote.org/handsoff/letter) and published in the Nicaraguan press, the U.S. Embassy denied supporting any candidate (http://quest.quixote.org/handsoff/embassy_response_trans).

If you the OAS statement was newsworthy, please ask the New York Times public@nytimes.com and the Washington Post ombudsman@washpost.com why they didn’t think so.

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