Monday, August 09, 2010

Palmer out, Santos in, BBC out drinking KoolAid

UPDATE!! In what can only be interpreted as further marks of Chavez weakening position we got today one significant development and another one, possibly major.

As expected, Larry Palmer will not be ambassador in Caracas and thus the US Senate will not need to vote on his confirmation next September.  Chavez simply said today that he woudl not receive Palmer "He disqualified himself by breaking all the rules of diplomacy. He messed with all of us. He can't come here."  Of course, Chavez NEVER breaks any of the rules of diplomacy and if he breaks them, well, he is El supremo so tough luck!

Unfortunately for Chavez this is yet another case of shoot the messenger, while the message still remains pretty much alive, at the Colombia border, inside the army barracks, at the currency exchange trading, etc, etc....  Palmer will not come but what he said remains very present.  You know something, if you ask me, I am pretty sure someone in the US does not want the US to have an ambassador in Caracas for the time being.

Somewhat less predictable was the announcement today, in the first full day of Santos term, that Chavez will go to Bogota in a couple of days to meet him for talks and try to restore relations.  Apparently he asked the FARC to reconsider their resistance, pretending of course to demonstrate that he does not support them even if all evidence in 10 years proves otherwise.  Of course, what is going on is that Chavez is profoundly isolated in Latin America as to his break up with Colombia as not even his buddy pals at UNASUR were willing to pretend to believe his words (his main enabler, Lula, is too busy running the election of his appointed successor Dilma Roussef to risk Chavez becoming an issue in the Brazilian campaign).

Thus Chavez in an increasingly  rare moment of reality decided to swallow hard and take the road to Damascus-on-Tequendama.  Not bad if you ask me as he can make the dumb believe that it was all the fault of mean Uribe, fortunately now gone for good.  But the smart set will see it clearly as a mark of defeat, going to Bogota "a pedir cacao" (to cry uncle, or some expression like that)

Special note: Koolaid drinking BBC correspondents in Caracas.

In their note about the rejection of Palmer by Chavez the BBC mundo gets out of its way to mention that the National Assembly voted against Palmer of course but that also the Frente Humanista group voted. Now, if you pay attention to the way the article is written you would be forgiven to believe that the opposition and chavismo have united against what would be once again a naked intervention of the US in Venezuela internal matters, and thus questioning the veracity of Colombia's accusations.

This is either deliberate misinformation or lack of home work in reading local papers and talking to opposition politicians, or even both.  To begin with, whatever Palmer said at his confirmation hearings about Venezuela is read regularly in the front pages of major newspapers.  Nobody questions that, nobody believes Chavez on his denial of the FARC presence, not even his hard core who actually welcomes that presence.  Second, the opposition is not going to waste time discussing this issue.  They have better things to do in the campaign trail than discuss the imaginary war with Colombia or Palmer words who all know are true, even the Frente Humanista.  Third "Frente Humanista" is a dissident chavista group that consists of a couple of representatives in the National Assembly and certainly under no circumstances could their vote be interpreted as supporting rejection of Colombia, Palmer and what not.  Since they share the knee jerk anti US feel of chavismo even in dissidence they cannot miss an opportunity to hit the US in the hope that it might convince enough chavista to vote for them next September. 

But if we go to the BBC main page, in English this time, the upcoming trip of Chavez to Bogota is described as top news, above such things like the Pakistan disaster.  You go to the article and sure enough there is an "analysis" of Will Grant included in the article.  He writes, I kid you not, "The move marks a remarkable turnaround, coming just weeks after Mr Chavez had been talking of the possibility of war with his neighbour."

Certainly Chavez's turnaround is remarkable but it is even more remarkable that Grant took the war with Colombia seriously!  And I will pass on interesting omissions of that article.

Clearly, Mr. Grant hangs around too many hysterical chavista to forage for his news. It is time for the BBC to replace him for a better informed journalist. I am not talking "objective" here, a just plain "informed" one would be nice.

Courtesy of URRU one of the multiple Youtube examples of the way that Chavez insulted Santos copiously during the campaign. Including the threat that he would never sit down with Santos. For the record, you know, before Chavez takes off got Bogota on Tuesday.  Maybe Will Grant missed that one?


  1. Couldn't agree more with you there Daniel, especially the bit about Will Grant, who sometimes seem more an employee of the VIO than a BBC journo.

    Grant's 'analysis' is quite simply a joke. For as you rightly wrote, no one, nowhere, lest of course fanatic chavistas, have ever believed that the war with Colombia will materialise. Grant is taking chavista version of things at face value, completely ignoring the fact that Colombia, under the much maligned Alvaro Uribe, did absolutely nothing military-wise to suggest that Chavez's threats of war were being taken seriously. Will Grant should write for The Guardian really, even for BBC standards he is below par.

  2. BBC News is a shame about Venezuela. I have written to them, but I think we need to send a petition with points all with numbers and sources and on top of that references to good reporting.
    The guys really have no clue whatsoever, very sloppy work, very very sloppy.

  3. Chavez slamming Palmer while offering to visit Santos seems like a pretty good move. Sure, it's completely hypocritical, but only if you look closely. On the face, he seems like a conciliator extending the olive branch to his neighbor. Never mind (like Will Grant) that he created the threat that created room for such an overture!

  4. Anonymous2:10 PM

    It's obvious that the new "love" for Santos is a direct result of the PudreVal debacle. Why? Because the problem with the corruption and incompetence of the Venezuelan ports that caused PudreVal is still there and it will only get worse. The easiest way for Chavez to "solve" the problem (without actually doing anything useful) is to buy Colombian products again. Since those always come via truck and are deposited directly on the place that needs them, they are far less susceptible to rotting (and if they do rot, he can blame the Colombians for it).

    The question is: what do the hardcore chavistas think about this? They DO remember all the insults Chavez said to Santos, and they repeated them ad nauseum like the unthinking zombies they are, so what are they going to do now?

  5. Boludo Tejano2:45 PM

    This is nothing new. Thugo gets his hands singed, and temporarily takes his hand out of the fire. Recall the “rapprochement” between Thugo and Uribe at a meeting of area heads of state shortly after Raúl Reyes got killed. I wonder if this is what Thugo will be aiming for when he meets with Santos:
    Strategy Page, July 28: Venezuela Calls For War
    July 28, 2010: Venezuela is trying to gather international support for a proposal to give leftist rebels in Colombia international recognition and legalize rebel bases in Venezuela. The leftist rebels are currently considered international terrorists. This proposal is pitched as part of a peace deal with Colombia….

    Thugo may claim that until FARC gets this recognition, there is no motive for FARC to “disarm.” [see the BBC link: Speaking on his television show, Alo Presidente, Mr Chavez said the Farc guerrillas "should come out in favour of peace".
    "They have no future by staying armed," he added, and told them to stop their campaign of kidnapping.
    More smoke and mirrors from Thugo.]

  6. I have often wondered what it must be like to be the BBC correspondant in Caracas, and what sort of life Will Grant leads -or the AP or Reuters man, for that matter. Quite obviously an enormous amount of subtle pressures on him to say the right thing, or at the least not the wrong thing. His very lifeblood, namely the flow of information and his access to important and influential people, will, de facto, be dependent on this. It's a Catch 22 situation that he has become comfortable with clearly over a number of years, I think clearly way too comfortable. Nothing new, of course; this is the classic foreign correspondant's conundrum; where does host-pleasing for gain end, and speaking the truth, whatever the consequences, begin?
    Perhaps it is time for Will Grant to put away his shorts and sunglasses, and be given a new assignment to relearn what responsible journalism really is about; could I suggest Belarus or Kyrghistan?

  7. concerned3:39 PM

    The "Love" for Santos will last less than the love for Obama after the book offering gesture. Behind closed doors, Santos will tell Chavez how he really feels and Chavez will come out smiling like a chesher cat but they will never be friends.

  8. 1979 Boat People4:27 PM

    Hope that Thugo is not going to HUG or GIVE his favourite book to his INSTANT LONG LOST friend Santos in the closed door meeting.

  9. Anonymous4:39 PM

    Chavez should be careful about drinking cyanide while in Columbia. Although it might improve his self-image of being the next Bolivar.

  10. Anonymous9:45 PM

    Wait - didn't Bolivar drink arsenic, not cyanide? We could only hope that Chávez would drink either of the two!

  11. And Grant continues inebriated with chavista kool aid:

    ...It follows months of intransigence under his predecessor, Alvaro Uribe.


    The guy sounds every bit as Andres Izarra, just beyond hope.


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