Thus yesterday the Interpol confirmed that the Raul Reyes laptops carried indeed documents made, elaborated, handled by Reyes himself or his assistants and NOT by the Colombian government. Of course, well informed people did not need such a confirmation as all the evidence has been pointing out for a very long time to an affinity of Chavez for the FARC. The only real surprise yesterday was the totally, absolutely unhinged reaction of Chavez (including his tasteless attempt at ridiculing the journalist of France Press after she put the finger on the sore point of why Venezuela did not discuss the issue with he Interpol). I mean, after all, the Interpol ONLY said that the documents were not tampered with, that they were not put inside the computers by Uribe AFTER the lap tops were seized. The Interpol DID NOT say the documents were meaningful: after all they could have been made during episodes of boredom during long jungle nights when Reyes was fantasizing and writing the all Colombian FARC novel... Why would Venezuela not check on the work of Interpol?
Anyway, this morning during my cup of tea I decided to make a quick press review to see how people reacted to the Chavez Chow (that is how he has taken to pronounce the world show, as in media show).
In the US
Let's start with the Miami Herald, the paper most likely to be following closer LatAm issues. Alejandra Labanca writes a long article were she skips over the main Chavez insults, though noting that the pseudo press conference lasted 4 hours (see last post). Instead she already looks to the possible US reaction (or rather likely lack of reaction as oil is too important) and what will happen during the EU-LatAm summit to start today in Lima where she expects major leaders to say to Chavez "enough is enough" (a more diplomatic "Porque no te callas"?). It is also to be noted that the paper offers the long account by the AP of Chavez threats in case the US Ecuador Manta base is replaced by one in the Guajira. I suppose he can buy submarines to blockade Colombian harbors (submarines ARE NOT defensive weapons) but Colombia cannot post its allies where it pleases them.
The Wall Street Journal who already had two days ago a major "leak" on the implications of yesterday revelations limits itself to an editorial that ends in wondering what supporters of chavez in the US such as Delahunt will do. Interesting question indeed. Maybe likely Democrat nominee Obama will enlighten us about his positions since many of his supporters are Che/Chavez lovers?
At the Washington Post Juan Forero who has seen the light from his past as a Chavez supporter does not even pretend to be objective: he catches up with the previous WSJ revelations of Cordoba and relates the insults of Chavez towards the Interpol as his only retort to the whole scandal. Indeed, the Noble/ignoble disgusting bad pun to make for a sitting president had to be duly noted. He also mentions the very lame reply of Ecuador foreign minister. An important detail as Ecuador who is probably as compromised in the affair as Venezuela escapes the bulk of international criticism courtesy of the stupid tantrum of Chavez yesterday.
At the New York Times Simon Romero writes already from Lima, attending the serious business at hand. As usual he gallantly strains to be objective against all odds and omits the Noble/ignoble moment as a token conciliatory gesture. He also cites a Chavez supporter, Greg Grandin, for balance in guessing that the US will not sanction Venezuela for the time being. Greg Grandin by the way who has a bone with the NYT coverage of Chavez. But Romero does call it straight, "a set back for Chavez" and mentions his qualification of the Interpol release as a "show", something that even hacks like Grandin will have a hard time justifying.
Over there they are not as sanguine and the event is even omitted from the pages of the London Times, or Paris Liberation who prefers to discuss how Sarkozy irritates Colombians with the French obsession for Ingrid Betancourt. But other papers do take up the story.
Le Monde starts with a picture of Chavez and Ivan Marquez, reminding thus that computer files or not, the links between Chavez and the FARC have been public knowledge for a long time as Uribe flushed skilfully Chavez late 2007 during his brief role as a mediator. Marie Delcas does not bother about objectivity: her article is simply a damning listing of some of the findings in the computers, something like the WSJ's Cordoba version for French public. At Le Monde Chavez is deciphered.
At the Guardian Rory Carroll writes a more neutral article that could have been equally written before or after Chavez press conference. I suppose that considering that the press conference of Chavez took place at the time where European editions were closing limited what he could say even though he knew very well what was coming. See, Rory Carroll has already been taken as a target by Chavez himself so he knows... Still, he is very clear in that Chavez has a lot of explaining to do and that at the Guardian it will be a very hard sell.
At El Pais we do get two articles like at the Herald. One deals with the Chavez press conference though El Pais, like the NYT, avoids writing down the worst insults of Chavez. I suppose that again it is the only way they can show some objectivity... El Pais has also a poll as to whether its readers think Chavez is in bed with the FARC: I recommend you vote here. But El Pais also looks ahead the Lima summit, clearly the next round as Chavez apparently has decided to put a Scarlett O'Hara moment, put his ball gown and face the gossiping crowd. But it will be tough: we learn that this summit not only will be problems plagued but that Angela Merkel has declined the conciliatory offer from Lula to smoothen a meeting with Chavez. She told that she can handle everyone on her own. Indeed, the ex victim of the Stasi is used to thugs who treat her of Nazi. Thus even Lula will arrive limping because of Chavez insults to Merkel, the fate of enablers while more straight shooters like Merkel, Uribe and Garcia apparently are hoping to enjoy the summit...
Update: I realized later that a conclusion of sorts was needed. And this one is very simple: not a single major paper tried to defend, justify, excuse, or give the benefit of the doubt to Chavez. Be they from the center right or the center left from any country mentioned. Only the NYT did cite Grandin, and not for an excuse of Chavez, clearly as a challenge to see if any pro Chavez guy would come up with anything credible. And even there, with such low expectations, it failed as the only thing cited from Grandin was that it did not matter whether Chavez was guilty or not, nothing would happen. Which, if you ask me, is a direct implication that Grandin thinks that Chavez messed up big time. In one year, since Chavez closed RCTV, he has lost any good will from the folks that count and even from inside his own camp where clearly some allies might not have not abandoned him but now seem unwilling to support him at any turn.
But even there Grandin might be wrong. If we look at another more hawkish paper, IBD, we can see that they are already focusing on the implications of yesterday events. Simply put, they regard with a cool eye the need to make do without Venezuela's oil. This will indeed cause problems for the US but infinitely worse problems for Chavez. for them, in spite of all the risks involved, it might be worth it to declare Venezuela a rogue state. I do not agree with that however there are plenty more documents coming from that computer now that the codes have been cracked. IBD might turn out to be right and at the very least, if Venezuela is not declared a rogue country its leaders should be issued international arrest warrants. I have in mind the present defense minister, the interior minister and Tachira current governor, just for starters. There is plenty of evidence from their own words. And of course Chavez who might have escaped jail in 1995 but who is doing all what he can to return there.
Let's hope that some chavista read the news and understand them otherwise if no one reins in Chavez, Venezuela is running straight into major trouble.