Kate and the Hispanic American Center for Economic Research sent an extraordinarily interesting article in the NYT on Chavez: Chavez Takes ‘Crazy Battalion’ of Supporters on the Road
For starters, there’s the photo of Sean Penn cringing next to Hugo, who’s grandstanding with a picture of Che:
After carefully reading the article I can see that the nearly two-year-long honeymoon Chavez has enjoyed in the NYT where they incessantly repeated the words from a full-page full-color Venezuelan government ad they ran in December 2005 portraying Chavez as
has come to an end.
Let’s examine the text carefully (emphasis added); the contrast with the AP lovefest couldn’t be greater:
But rarely has the reception of foreign actors and writers been as warm as it was this week for Mr. Penn, whom Mr. Chávez, perhaps smarting from international condemnation over his government’s treatment of critics in the local news media, hailed as “valiant” for his outspoken opposition to the war in Iraq and other policies of the Bush administration.
What followed, for a handful of journalists given the rare opportunity of accompanying Mr. Chavez on such a trip, was a glimpse into his government’s use of imagery and pomp to court public opinion both at home and abroad.
Hugo wouldn’t stop at the local mom-and-pop businesses along the road so his guests could use the facilites,
lurching ahead as desperate news cameramen and photographers yelled at the driver to start or stop. At times they cheered, as when they got shots of Mr. Penn urinating on the side of the road.
Even Sean started to demur
In a brief interview at one of the motorcade’s many stops, Mr. Penn declined to discuss any similarities that might exist between the president in the driver’s seat of the Tiuna and the Southern populist, loosely based on Louisiana governor Huey Long, that Mr. Penn played in the recent film adaptation of Robert Penn Warren’s “All the King’s Men.”
How ’bout that. Someone other than I saw a similarity there.
And with the acumen of a politician who knows how to celebrate friends where he can find them, Mr. Chavez switched into English with a few words for Mr. Penn: “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
I certainly hope Simon Romero keeps filing reports like this one.
If he does, I might even start reading the NYT again.