Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The Chavez battle against international media: a blogger's satisfaction

I am traveling through the country side this week (Easter holiday is the whole week for many Venezuelans). Thus I am a little bit late in the news, and posting on them. For example, I had to wait for tonight to read Sunday El Universal's "Expedientes". That Sunday feature of El Universal is an in depth study of some important political issue, and it has the ability to stir quite a lot or ire from the chavista camp as it exposes many of the lies and misdeeds. This Sunday was particularly gratifying for Venezuelan bloggers, mainly those writing in English.

El Universal expediente titled "Pagando Plumas" (paying for pens) is a recap on how much money Venezuela is spending on hired pens to promote its cause outside. Of course many of those "independent" writers claim that they are not paid and that they do that out of the goodness of their heart. However a sentence later they also admit that chavismo brings them to Venezuela on occasion, all expenses paid. At the very least they keep adding frequent flyer miles, no?

Nobody of course is fooled as there are many ways to pay a journalist, if anything by having them called by name during a Chavez show, such as Eva Golinger. With that simple single moment, the woman that "denounced" the NED grants to Sumate got her more than 15 minutes of fame, amen of her doing just the same partisan activity that her "ethics" condemned when Sumate received money from another country. And, while at it, she got a book deal from a Cuban press with an Havana launch, and the improbable name of "Chavez Code". 'nuf said!

The article also acknowledges that there is a recognized budget through the Venezuelan embassy to fund the VIO (Venezuelan Information Agency), to the tune of already 600 000 USD for 2005. By itself this dwarfs ALL the NED grants put together as to Venezuela. Who gets that money and how has been illustrated in the recent happening in Boston, a happening that cost already 1.5 million USD even before the enlightened Venezuelan officials landed in Boston. The money was spent to repair a silly CITGO sign in Kenmore Square. Not only that sum seems outrageous for a billboard, but with half of that amount there is many a "Barrio Adentro" clinic that could get some needed improvement.

At any rate. I had an amusing thought while reading all of this, that English writing Venezuelan bloggers, all doing it for free as far as it is known, have contributed in forcing the Chavez government to speed up its campaign of self promotion. As far as this blogger knows the English language sites and people defending Chavez consistently over time seem all supported by his agents, directly or indirectly at least from what has been reported and even admitted by the government such as Sunday's expediente. However all the bloggers opposing his misrule are doing so from free sites or dirt cheap sites that they can afford themselves without any grant. And at the expense of their own free time. They do most of the work single handedly whereas chavismo has to line a battery of journalists (?). From the Expediente it seems that apparently Chavez is not getting his money worth...

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