That weird Orwellian vibe on State Media these days may be clear as day to Venezuelans, but it’s tough, very tough to get it across to a neutral. How do you put across, to somebody who hasn’t experienced it, the National System of Public Media’s knack for manufacturing Official Truths through sheer repetition, even in the presence of clear evidence to the contrary?

It’s not easy, but it’s what I try to get across this week over on the IHT, 

In 2005, Venezuela became an official Territory Free of Illiteracy. A massively funded government literacy drive achieved, in just over a year, what decades of neoliberal neglect had failed to deliver: a country where every single person knows how to read.

It’s the kind of story of radical inclusiveness and progressive zeal that has earned the government of Hugo Chávez wide admiration — even from those who might blanch at its heavy-handed approach to civil liberties. There’s just one problem: the government’s claim is verifiably false.

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