Chavez in La-La land with his CNN pals

President Hugo Chavez tells CNN’s Patricia Janiot it is “an infamy” to describe Venezuela as the world’s most dangerous country.

Chavez insists that Venezuela has always suffered from criminal violence, and that all countries including “the United States and Mexico” have similar problems with criminal violence. True.

But in Venezuela’s case, particularly, total reported homicides have soared from just over 4,000 in the mid-1990s to over 14,000 in 2008 – and practically all this growth happened on Chavez’s watch. All other violent crimes – armed robbery, rape, etc. – also have climbed into the stratosphere during the decade Chavez has been in power.

Anyway, no one has said Venezuela is the world’s most dangerous country. International crime experts at the UN, Interpol, and local experts with CICPC say that Venezuela in 2008 was the most dangerous country in Latin America in terms of homicides per 100,000 inhabitants.

UN experts also say Venezuela has become one of the most dangerous countries in the world today in terms of homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. The UN says the homicide rate in Venezuela is 53 per 100,000 inhabitants, compared with Latin America’s regional average of about 26 per 100,000 inhabitants.

Chavez also claims his government is working hard, every day, to reduce violent crime in Venezuela even if he never mentions the issue of insecurity in any of his speeches.

Odd that a president who suffers chronic verbal diarrhea should never mention the issue of violent crime, especially since every public opinion survey done in Venezuela for the past five or six years shows that the public’s greatest worry is crime and insecurity.

Chavez tells Janiot that his government is fighting crime “not with a conventional repressive mentality, but structurally by attacking the causes…”

Unfortunately, Janiot did not seize the opportunity to challenge Chavez’s easily refutable claims about crime in Venezuela and his regime’s alleged security policies.

It’s possible Janiot/CNN en Espanol were too smitten with landing a live interview with President Chavez to do anything besides lick his boots in gratitude.

But it’s far more likely that Janiot/CNN gave Chavez the silk-glove treatment because many executives, top producers and on-camera talents who run CNN in Spanish sympathize ideologically with Chavez’s alleged socialism.

This is not idle speculation by Caracas Gringo, but first-hand knowledge and experience from having worked and collaborated editorially with CNN in Spanish for eight years between 1995 and 2002.

For example, Jorge Gestoso, CNN in Spanish’s top news anchor in the 1990s and early 2000’s, is an unapologetic Uruguayan socialist who, among other independent gigs, provided communications strategy advice to El Salvador’s Marxist FMLN party circa 1999-2002.

Andres Izarra was a CNN in Spanish correspondent for a number of years in the 1990s, distinguishing himself among his colleagues as one of the most radical leftists in a group of Hispanic and Spanish reporters and producers who tilted collectively way to the left.

And on April 11, 2002 in Caracas, CNN’s former Venezuela correspondent Otto Neustadt helpfully phoned his good friend Vice President Diosdado Cabello before noon that day to report he would shortly be taping a proclamation by a group of military officers who were revolting against the Chavez regime.

The Chavez regime already knew a “coup attempt” was coming because the regime had instigated a couop against itself in which amateur conspirators and fools like Pedro Carmona were easily entrapped. But CAbello appreciated Neustadt’s timely call.

Neustadt later cried foul when he was accused locally of being too friendly with the Chavez regime, but the fact is that CNN fired him after reviewing unedited video outtakes which left no doubt that Neustadt was very tight with Vice President Cabello. Indeed, their relationship back in 2002 reportedly was as close as any friendship between two men can become.

Janiot’s interview with Chavez was a classic example of biased and (deliberately?) misinformed journalism. Any TV news producer with half a brain would have done a little research on the most important issues in Venezuela, including insecurity.

One has only to Google the words “crime”, “violence” and “Venezuela” to find a great deal of useful material.

But why spoil a live interview overflowing with the “good vibes” of celebrating President Chavez’s tenth anniversary in power.

So perhaps the producer in charge of prepping Janiot for the interview didn’t do any serious research, and instead just handed the anchor a list of soft questions (e.g. Patricia: “…so how do you feel today as you celebrate ten years as President of Venezuela?” Hugo: “…it’s good to be the King…and by the way I’m never leaving because I have no heirs.”)


About Caracas Gringo

Representing less than 0.00000000001515152% of the world population as of 31 December 2011.
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