I am going straight to the point: your timing for visiting Chavez sucks. I know that you have expressed your support often enough but visiting now as he is becoming a bona fide dictator is really not your best move. Then again in the past you have had your share of controversies and we should not be surprised that you decided to show your face in Caracas once Hugo Chavez decided to become a radical, to do things you would never put up with in the US. At any rate it would be a nice change from your Pol Pot linking, remember?
But your sense of timing is even worse than what I imply above: there has been live on TV, two Sundays in a row, a set of lies and manipulations by Chavez himself, from the situation of the country to his self proclaimed love for peace. So, in the spirit of trying to help you I will give you a chance to redeem yourself and prove once and for all that you do understand the media really, and not the media you like only. As a bonus you can also prove that you are a democrat and a humanist.
Two weeks ago there was a scandal in the press regarding poor humble women that were seeking help for delivering their babies. Public hospitals in Venezuela are in such shambles that they were sent from one place to the other as no one was in any shape to receive them. "ruleteo" we call it, as in rolling the ball, though the image of Russian roulette comes to mind in this case.
Well, what did Hugo Chavez do? He made it a a-morality play into his Sunday show two weeks ago. There was a woman, duly clad in red, happening to be passing by and seeking help from Chavez directly, saying that her sister was passed along many hospitals. Chavez, grand seigneur, was shocked, shocked!, about such things still happening, justifying along the way the latest purge in his cabinet, while offering his personal surgeon to help the sister in question. His personal surgeon, nothing less.
I trust that just from these words describing the scene you will be smart enough to smell a rat in the Chavez show, you know, media manipulation and obscene control and brain washing and what not. You wrote the books on how single men influence public opinion through controlled media. Did you not? Are you aware that no one in Venezuela's history has been a media mogul the way Chavez is today?
You can find in this link the article on this subject that Milagros Socorro wrote for El Nacional, a newspaper that supported the Chavez election in 1998, a newspaper with a historical leftist reputation since its foundation, and who now sternly opposes Chavez. Food for thought right there.
The article of Ms. Socorro is in Spanish but a linguist like you should have no trouble finding some one to translate it. Heck, if you call Milagros she will probably ask you out for a cup of coffee and enlighten you some. She might not be a world known "intellectual" like you are but I can assure you that she can hold her own with you, even at an advantage because unlike you she is a true humanist, truly and deeply concerned with all human rights, unlike you who seem to pick and chose among them. At any rate she is much more of an intellectual than the military lout you chose to suck up yesterday, she is one fo the finest intellectuals Venezuela has to offer today even though her trade is journalism and writing.
So there you have it, a chance for you to dig where it matters, to prove that you are what you say you are. Either that or you can keep slipping into further disregard as more and more only a loony fringe worships you. And be aware that all that Chavez touches turns into crap, his own reverse Midas touch. It can get much worse for your reputation. You have been warned.
humble blogger of humble truths on naked emperors