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January 24, 2013

Spain's El Pais pulls picture of 'Hugo Chavez' on operating table

IMG_4627Spain's El Pais published and then pulled a picture that purported to be Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on the operating table, after the government began circulating the YouTube video the image was captured from. (On the left is another screen shot from that same video, in which the soon-to-be intubated gentleman is most definitely not the Venezuelan leader.)

The govenrment routinely charges the press with being part of a global conspiracy against the Bolivarian Revolution, and this unfortunate incident has only given the administration fodder. 

In this follow up story, El Pais said the image was on its website for about half an hour and that it suspsended printing when it realized its mistake.

Here's the government press release.

And here's the link to the original YouTube video. 

January 21, 2013

Venezuela under the New Yorker microscope in 'Slumlord'

Venezuela is getting the Jon Lee Anderson treatment in the Jan. 28 issue of the New Yorker.

Anderson has had the chance to interview Chávez on several occasions and was in Cuba in 1999 when the newly-elected president traveled to Havana and played nine-innings with Fidel.

In this 12-page spread, titled Slumlord - What has Hugo Chavez wrought in Venezuela, Anderson spends much of his time studying how the administration’s lax regulations and socialist ideology have led to a massive squatter’s movement and soaring crime.

José Argenis, the leader of Caracas’ El Milagro invasion, tells Anderson “This government has been more permissive—previous governments were more repressive. And so the cultura malandra”—the thug culture—“ has flourished, and it has gone out from the prisons to the schools, to the universities, to the streets. It has become the national culture.”

It appears Anderson was in Caracas in November, shortly after Chávez won his third six-year term, but he didn’t get the chance to meet with the ailing leader, who has been in holed up in a Cuban hospital since Dec. 10.

For the Venezuelans who continually voted for him, Chávez’s possible death “represents the end of a long and enthralling performance,” Anderson writes. “They gave him power, in one election after another: they are the victims of their affection for a charismatic man, whom they allowed to become the central character on the Venezuelan stage, at the expense of everything else.”

The full article, which requires a subscription, can be found here.

January 16, 2013

Venezuela: Is this Chavez signature proof of life?

As most people know, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez hasn’t been seen or heard from since he traveled to Cuba on Dec. 10 to undergo another round of surgery for an undisclosed form of cancer.

His prolonged silence has fueled all sorts of rumors that he was in an induced coma, on life support, etc. Those suspicions only grew deeper last week when Chávez purportedly wrote to the National Assembly to say that he would not be at his Jan. 10 inauguration. That letter, however, was not signed by Chávez, but by his VP Maduro. 

But now a Chávez signature has turned up. On Tuesday, Maduro said the ailing president had appointed Elías Jaua as his new foreign minister. Today, VTV has running with this image of the Official Gazette, which show’s the president’s signature as part of the Jaua designation. 

Still, most people want to see or hear their leader, but this does seem to support the  administration’s claims that Chávez is making a recovery. 


jim wyss

Inside South America is written by Jim Wyss, the South America bureau chief for the Miami Herald and McClatchy Newspapers.

Feel free to send a story suggestion. Read Jim's stories at MiamiHerald.com.

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