Saturday, March 24, 2007

Believe it or not section: making a fool of oneself in Brasilia

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.

Brazil is slowly splitting itself from the excesses of Chavez, in spite of the obvious sympathy between Lula and Chavez. First it was the hug between Lula and Bush. Strained hug perhaps but hug nevertheless. And followed a few days after by an official intention to cooperate in developing ethanol as an alternate fuel.

Chavez is on record on suddenly changing his opinion on ethanol and even stopping all the projects that had been launched on that matter with Cuba in Venezuela. Now the Brazilian press is not afraid to print articles with such delicious words who do not request translation:
O presidente da Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, é o arquiinimigo da maior cooperação Brasil-Estados Unidos.

OK, that was already good enough for a laugh but today we went a step further. The communication minister of Brazil was discussing creating a state TV in Brazil and some people are not agreeing on the idea. Well, the Minister, a certain Helio Costa, said that people should not be worry, that the model was certainly not what was seen in Cuba or Venezuela. It would be a public TV but not a state TV (or some sort of equal subtlety). I picked up Recife's Jornal do Comercio transcript, at random in the Brazilian press:
O ministro das Comunicações, Hélio Costa, dice que a TV do Executivo, proposta por ele na semana passada, não é uma TV estatal. “Absolutamente não. TV estatal é o que o Chávez faz”, disse, referindo-se ao presidente da Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, que tem liderado movimento de estatização das redes de TV naquele país.

“TV estatal é o que se faz em Cuba; é o que se fazia na Polônia e na antiga União Soviética. E eu estive em todos esses lugares para saber perfeitamente a diferença entre estatal e pública”, disse o ministro, em entrevista sobre a implantação do rádio digital no País.

My translation (I could not resist posting a little bit of Brazilian Portuguese first which I can understand more or less):
The minister of the Communications, Helio Costa, said that the TV in the government proposal of last week, is not a state TV. “Absolutely not. State TV is what Chavez makes”, he said, mentioning the president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, who has led a movement of nationalization of the TV networks in that country. "State TV is what is done in Cuba; it is what was done in Poland and the old Soviet Union. I have been in all these places to know perfectly the difference between state and public TV", said the minister, in an interview on the creation of digital radio in the Country.

The Venezuelan ambassador in Brasilia, Garcia Montoya, was so upset that (following instructions from Caracas?) he complained loudly. Though the ambassador declarations were not taken by the Brazilian press at this time, at least not on Google news, which goes to tell you how important the Venezuelan embassy is considered in Brasilia. Thus we are limited to Venezuelan press notes so far. At any rate, the ambassadors words demonstrate again that truth hurts a lot, or where it itches one must scratch- OK, that was to be expected from a military named ambassador and whose main title to glory was to finance a Bolivar float at the Rio carnival of 2006. To justify the title of this post, let me post what the ambassadors added:
The Venezuelan state networks do not belong to president Chavez and in addition in Venezuela the state does not claim exclusivity in telecommunications services, nor does it use them for presidential or personal marketing.
Gasp! I mean, how "cara dura" can one be, or how naive or how uninformed....

I think that the one that has no idea how TV works in Venezuela is the ambassador, unless he is stonewalling us, and the knowledgeable Brazilian public, AND its communication minister that surely knows better. If the ambassador, or any reader, has a doubt I would suggest to visit a recent post where the government lists with great pride on how all the state networks will broadcast SIMULTANEOUSLY a replay of the Barbara Walters interview to Chavez (1).

It is amazing that when the state control of Venezuela of networks is now vox populi and publicly criticized at electoral time by serious international observers, at a time where the Chavez incessant cadenas are meeting more and more reprobation, when international press organizations are increasing pressure against the closing of RCTV considered a crass censorship measure, that the stupid ambassador is willing to volunteer such a lame, and unnecessary declaration. In fact, a perfect opportunity to stay silent was lost. But then again Chavez is mad at Lula and the declaration might simply reflect the wish to put pressure on Lula, to back off from any US deal or any less than vigorous support of Chavez.

We will see.

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1) Apparently the Barbara Walters that went on air in the Us was a shorter version than the Venezuelan one and it did not include all the attacks on Bush that Chavez freely used. Interesting... (hat tip devoted reader who prefers to remain anonymous)

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