We just know that the mainstream Venezuelan and US media are itching to paint Hugo Chavez as “loquito”, aren’t we? Well, here’s some more red meat for their attack dogs, courtesy of the Beeb…
The visit by the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to Russia is taking the media by storm, with one news agency reporting he has attracted much attention with his “emotional and spontaneous behaviour”.
“He calls Christ the first socialist in the world; George Bush an alcoholic; pro-Washington Latin American presidents poodles of imperialism”, writes Andrey Yashlavskiy in the Moskovskiy Komsomolets daily.
The military paper Krasnaya Zvezda headlines its front-page article with a quote from the “charismatic” Mr Chavez: “I am a brother of the Slavs.”
Channel 1 TV was impressed by Mr Chavez’s arrival at Volgograd airport when he was offered a shot of vodka.
“The Venezuelan president demonstrated good knowledge of local traditions,” the TV reports, “he drank the vodka from a Cossack’s sabre and without eating anything.”
The Trud daily is also fascinated by the “extraordinary and controversial leader”.
“Hugo Chavez, an indigenous Indian with some African blood in his veins, whose speech is peppered with proverbs and vulgar slang, has a messianic quality, not uncommon in politicians with spice in their blood.”
The Komsomolskaya Pravda tabloid notes that Mr Chavez “took notice of Volgograd girls” and quotes him as saying: “I have always liked Venezuelan women, but looking at yours, I can see that I have lost a lot.”
The paper adds that as he was saying this Mr Chavez put “the heavy hand of a Venezuelan peasant” on the girl’s shoulder.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta prints what some Volgograd residents had to say about the Venezuelan leader.
They call Mr Chavez “a unique phenomenon”, “a sensible but eccentric guy” – although very few seem to know much about Venezuela as some suggest it is either “a place in Italy” or “in Africa”, or “a shop in central Volgograd”.
They’re gonna leap all over the bits with the added emphasis, I can just smell it; he’ll be painted as a wacky, drunken lecher, as well as a tyrant. (Even Alternet, which should know better, has fallen into that trap by reprinting a repulsively spinny Foreign Affairs article saying as much, with scant evidence that Venezuela is indeed a “competitive autocracy”, a nonsense term if ever there was one…at least, as far as Venezuela goes. If it were applied to the US, it might make more sense.)
Meanwhile, this is what passes for “serious” coverage in the Russian media. As you can see, it’s no better than what you’d get in the “serious” mainstream media here:
The Kommersant daily prefers to concentrate on the political dimension to the visit, during which Mr Chavez is expected to sign arms deals.
“Venezuela gets armed with Russia” write Mikhail Zygar and Tatyana Dmitriyeva.
“Moscow expects bumper arms contracts from the visit,” they say, while Venezuela’s eyes are on “setting up an anti-American oil bloc”.
“Thus Moscow, which has just hosted the G8 summit, shows once again that, when the chance comes, it may respond to criticism from the West by making a sharp U-turn towards the West’s foes.”
Um, newsflash, Kommersant: Chavez IS from the West. He can’t be its foe. And he’s not the US’s foe either, no matter who paints him that way. In the end, the US will be its own worst enemy, as was ever the case. They don’t need Chavez to trip them up; they’ve been rattling their own sabre so much that they’ll fall on it in the end with no pushing from him.
Besides, I thought it was supposed to be a GOOD thing that Russia is now open to doing trade with the West.
I guess some Westerners are more Western than others, eh?