Today we got an abject lesson on how credibility is done and undone.
Long time readers of this blog are aware of my love-hate relationship with the New York Times. At some point, seeing how the New York times seemed to have fallen under the sway of Juan Forero, how ignorant on the real intentions of Chavez it was, and how bad the reporting on Venezuela was, I had even canceled the daily E-mail I was receiving from them. For me it was hard. During my many years of living in the US the New York Times had been my constant companion, the newspaper that accompanied at home everyday when I lived in the North East coast, and the required Sunday reading when the South did not allow me the option of home delivery. From the Crossword (I have done on my own every single day except Sunday, I am not native speaker after all) to the Opera section going through the science page and the different "journals", I can say that my whole outlook on the US was strongly shaped by the NYT.
I am not reconciled with the NYT yet: it has done too much damage to Venezuelan democracy. However today I am forced to recognize that the departure of Juan Forero for the Washington Post (where surprisingly he has grown into a critic of Chavez) has allowed for a shift in the NYT view, a shift apparently greatly helped by much better and balanced reporting of their new correspondent, Simon Romero. But if I am still far from being happy (after all love-hate relationships are hard to overcome) I am nevertheless forced to accept that this progressive turn around of the NYT implies that there are reserves of self criticism within the newspaper. I am not expecting ever the NYT to apologize for being soft on Chavez for half a decade but the fact that a progressive U-turn took place is what ensures in the long term credibility, be it for a newspaper of for a politician.
Thus it is with utter amusement that I read the reaction of William Lara, the goebbelian minister of communication of Chavez when, based on the latest Times editorial, he stated that the New York Times was working for Bush. I am sure that even the beleaguered White House staff must have had a smile reading that today, not to mention the predictable hilarity at the NYT offices. I just hope for his sake that Lara is not going to kick out Romero: then he and his master will finally learn what the NYT power is (1).
If the New York Times seems to be taking a good measure of Chavez after its divine characterization of chavismo democracy as "It’s participatory democracy in which only Mr. Chavez and his friends get to participate" such good news cannot be said for the OAS secretary Insulza.
Mr. Insulza, called affectionately "the Panzer" in Chile has turned out to be the perfect wimp. Apparently he has taken so seriously his election to the OAS seat due to Chavez that he cannot bring himself to reply directly to Chavez even when this one insults him publicly. If we could forgive Insulza that his job requires him to be not as objective as the New York Times, we could still expect him to be a defender of democracy in the Americas. Unfortunately in now too numerous examples to bother repeating here he has paved the way out for Chavez abuses, the latest one when he all but ignored the closing of the main private media in Venezuela, RCTV. (2)
At any rate, Insulza wishy-washyness is coming home to root. Today the fire came from Jorge Quiroga, ex Bolivian president and the valiant leader to the autocratic tendencies of Evo Morales in Bolivia.
In Bolivia, since last Chavez visit, tensions have increased dramatically. Now Evo Morales people are trying to pack the high court of the country as the last tool they can rely on to take the absolute control of the stalled constituent assembly in Sucre. Dramatic fist fights are now common place among legislators in La Paz or constituent assembly folks in Sucre. Not to mention that about half of Bolivia seems every day more and more willing to declare its independence from the Altiplano. A high risk situation if any in all of South America.
The reaction of one of the main leaders of Bolivia's opposition to the adventures of Morales, duly inspired by the anti democratic bent of chavismo which is now proven to spread money around there to buy as many consciences as possible (it looks like bags of Venezuelan money are also going to Bolivia to buy consciences in Santa Cruz), was to be expected. What was not expected is that Quiroga would take upon Insulza directly and make him one of the responsible folks for the decay of democratic values in Latin America. Quiroga went as far as saying that OAS was an embarrassment for not having taken a position when RCTV was closed and that Insulza would be well advised to defend democracy instead of submitting himself to Chavez to whom he owes his position. In short, Quiroga has insulted Insulza as much as Chavez did except that he did that in diplomatic terms as opposed to the "pendejo" of Chavez (3). We wonder if Insulza will dare to reply something. At least I have the satisfaction not to be the only one that thinks that the OAS should in fact been chased away from any country where there are problems.
Thus we see Insulza now dragging down the OAS with his own incompetence, and lack of backbone and self respect. The only problem is that as Insulza and the OAS lose any credibility ("a calculated plan by Chavez" according to Quiroga) democracy in Latin America will suffer. Woe to Ecuador as Insulza is visiting Quito and patting Correa's back. simply stunning that someone who had a great reputation before he got the job is now becoming the laughing stock of all in LatAm, including Chavez. Can Insulza recover credibility someday? I am afraid he might be much more arrogant than the NYT.....
1) if the NYT editorial is not available on line anymore, you can read it here.
2) this blog has mentioned Insulza dismal failure as OAS secretary only too often even if at first there was some glimmer of hope from someone who supposedly should have known all the signs of an incipient strong ma regime in Venezuela. Unless he hopes that Chavez will finance his expected campaign run in Chile in two years?
3) there is also a strong anti Chavez interview of Quiroga where he accuses Evo of been submissive to Chavez and letting Chavez direct the general outline of the gas policies of Bolivia. In a Chilean journal at that!