Class, your attention please. We have a very special guest today showing us what crappy coverage of a certain South American country looks like. Daniel Wallis of Reuters, please come forward…
Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez unveiled a 3D image of South America’s 19th century independence hero Simon Bolivar on Tuesday, based on bones the president ordered exhumed two years ago to test his theory that Bolivar was murdered.
Okay, stop right there. This is imputing motive. Chávez wasn’t “testing his theory that Bolívar was murdered”, he had him exhumed to determine the cause of death, which was mysterious and under dispute for over a century. The possibility that Bolívar was murdered did not originate with Hugo Chávez, it was there from the beginning. And, as an avid student of history, Chávez wants to know the truth. As should we all. This isn’t conspiracy theory, it’s called learning the facts, and right away we can see that our man from Reuters isn’t into it.
And the following confirms that even further:
The socialist leader reveres Bolivar – he renamed the country the “Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela” – and has wrapped his leftist “revolution” in the imagery and language of the region’s battle to break free of colonial power Spain.
All right, Mr. Wallis, what’s with all the scare quotes? Very unprofessional writing, that. Reminds me of “Dr. Evil”, with his “laser” on the “Moon”. See how silly that looks?
And very disrespectful of history, too. Look, Chavecito is hardly the only Venezuelan to revere Bolívar. Or, for that matter, the only South American. The man liberated no fewer than five countries. And three of them — Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador — all happen to fall under the rubric of what was once called Gran Colombia. Their flags, to this day, all bear the Bolivarian configuration of colors: a lemon-yellow horizontal stripe over a blue stripe over a red. And in fact, they are all called the Bolivarian countries, because Bolívar liberated this region from the yoke of the Spanish Empire first, and actually ruled it for a brief period following the liberation (and preceding his fatal exile). That means they are all Bolivarian republics. Don’t believe me? Read Philip Agee’s book, CIA Diary. The late former CIA operative (he ended up defecting to Cuba) referred to Ecuador, where he was stationed in the late 1960s, as a Bolivarian country, along with Colombia and Venezuela. He did so very matter-of-factly. If a former US spy, whose agenda could not have been more anti-Bolivarian at the time, could get that right and do it without snark, why not a crappy Reuters reporter?
BTW, those scare quotes around revolution are very telling, too. What happened in Venezuela following the election of Chávez IS a revolution. It was the beginning of the end for the US empire, which took over where the Spaniards left off — or tried to. And that scares the shit out of the US, because it means that the place is no longer a petro-state puppet of theirs. What the oil companies used to own is now irrevocably Venezuela’s sovereign purview, and Venezuela calls the shots. Chávez can tear up an agreement anytime Big Foreign Oil doesn’t want to hold to it, or tries to press for an unfair advantage. And that’s why the people elected him: to end the foreign oil barons’ hegemony in their land. But hey, let’s diminish that very important point by putting it in scare quotes, shall we?
Chavez, in his fight against the “Yankee imperialism” of the United States, repeatedly invokes Bolivar, who is second only to Jesus as a figure of reverence in parts of South America.
Again with the scare quotes. But at least now we see the devil in the details, eh? And hooray, finally Wallis acknowledges that it’s not just Chávez who reveres Bolívar! Only buried halfway down the friggin’ piece, mind you.
Venezuela’s opposition accuses the president of cynically seeking to boost his popularity by linking himself to Bolivar, and says he is really an autocrat who carefully avoids quoting some of Bolivar’s words on freedom and rights.
And here’s the obligatory blah-de-blah from the Venezuelan right. This is the same shit we’ve heard from these fascists from the get-go, including during the coup of ’02, when they were blatantly killing people in the streets, blockading the Cuban embassy, and beating up democratically elected colleagues of the legitimate president. We’ll get to them again later, don’t worry. I have a choice morsel of theirs that I’m saving for last.
Chavez denies it and cites Bolivar as the inspiration for his leftist policies. He has long suggested Bolivar was poisoned by enemies in Colombia, rejecting the more common version cited by historians that he died of tuberculosis there in 1830.
Unwritten subtext: Chávez is a conspiracy nut.
Actually, what the historians cite is only a vague supposition. Remember, tuberculosis was not definitively diagnosed in those days. It was decades before Robert Koch identified the TB bacillus, and the tuberculin test was still far in the future, as was pasteurization. And the symptoms of Bolívar’s fatal illness were only ever vaguely described, and his body hastily interred, without autopsy. The cause of the Liberator’s death is still very much in question. But let’s elide all that and pretend it’s all settled history and that there’s no chance that he was actually poisoned by oligarchs who didn’t lack for motives, eh?
Two years ago, amid unusual scenes of a military honor guard in white biohazard suits and face masks exhuming the remains during a pre-dawn ceremony at the National Pantheon, the president assigned a team to investigate Bolivar’s death.
And now we’re just devolving into silliness here. What’s so “unusual” about people wearing biohazard suits to exhume a body? Especially one that might have been killed by TB? I thought it was all settled. This is just one of the sillier contradictions of this report. Here’s another:
A year ago, it reported back that “the Liberator” may have died of accidental poisoning – probably as a result of taking toxic medicines that were widely used at the time. They did not rule out tuberculosis.
“May have died of accidental poisoning”? “Did not rule out tuberculosis”? Nice word salad there. The poisoning could also have been deliberate, and done under the pretext of curing tuberculosis. Yes, people did take arsenic all the time for all kinds of bacterial infections in those days (antibiotics weren’t available yet, either). And a lot of them did die from the build-up of the toxic element in their bodies. A lot of them also died of blood-loss from bloodletting, which was another common “cure” for TB in those days. But how hard is it to imagine that a clever assassin could simply administer too much arsenic, or “let” too much blood? For this cowardly and unimaginative reporter, apparently, very.
Okay, I promised you some fun at the expense of the oppos. Here comes the first bit, courtesy of the article itself:
Adulation of Bolivar transcends both sides of Venezuela’s polarized pre-vote politics. Chavez’s election rival, state governor Henrique Capriles, began Tuesday by tweeting a string of inspirational Bolivar quotes from his @hcapriles account.
A local genealogist caused a small stir last weekend by suggesting Capriles was a distant relative of the independence hero – prompting derision from Diosdado Cabello, the head of the National Assembly and a pugnacious Chavez ally.
“Talent is not inherited. Neither is patriotism, nor love for one’s neighbor,” Cabello told a news conference.
If you’ve seen The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, you’ve seen Diosdado Cabello. He’s the vice-president who was temporarily sworn in as president to fill the power vacuum while Chavecito’s government reassembled, scuttled the putschists, and sent the army to return the real president to the palace. Cabello was needed to give the return order to the soldiers (and override traitors in the military high command, many of whom were unmasked as members of the opposition during the coup). And Cabello is right; it doesn’t matter if Capriles IS distantly related to Bolívar (who, BTW, had no children of his own). Venezuela is not a dynastic monarchy, after all. And I think Bolívar would be properly horrified to see this piggy-eyed little fascist (who, incidentally, was responsible for the human-rights violations at the Cuban embassy during the coup) as a descendant of his sister.
But let’s give the last word to the true voice of the Venezuelan opposition. Her surname, too, happens to be Capriles, although I don’t know if she’s related. She certainly is his ideological co-religionist, though:
And here’s what she said, verbatim:
the poor dont deserve all that shit come on we have to privatize healthcare and education
we have to get rid of the missions privatize education and healthcare eliminated all aid to those poor fuckers we need those universities our pdvsa which a big part belonged to my family and the transnationals we have to return cantv electricity and basic industries and the exploitation of minerals we have to return them to those they were expropriated from
Translation mine; lack of capitalization and punctuation, and abominable sentence structure, hers.
What better advertisement for what Venezuela will degenerate back to if not for liberators like Chavecito, eh? That’s something that I’m not about to hold my breath waiting for Reuters to cover.