The Trouble with Juan Forero

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In today’s New York Times we see a story by Juan Forero on Chavez’s growing rhetorical anti-Americanism. It’s heartening to read a story in a major US paper that questions the ulterior motives for Chavez’s always-popular BushWhackery. Unfortunately, the piece fails to connect some pretty obvious dots.

Juan notices the obvious parallels between Chavez’ and Fidel’s rhetoric. But he doesn’t push it. He doesn’t mention the 49 signed agreements between the two countries or Chavez’s repeated expressions of fawning, drooling admiration for Fidel, so he doesn’t note the possibility that Chavez’s talk is part of his push to “fuse” the Venezuelan and Cuban revolutions.

An outsider reading the piece could be excused for thinking it’s just a funny coincidence how Chavez and Fidel seem to agree on what a bad guy Bush is. Coordination? Collusion? No signs of it here!

More annoyingly, and related to his failure to connect the Caracas-Havana dots, Juan entirely glosses over the little matter of the creepy “Reserva” created by the new Armed Forces Law. He doesn’t explain how gringophobia is being used to justify the arming and paramilitary organization of chavista civilians. And since he fails to do that, it’s not surprising the he entirely glosses over opposition fears that the reserva will, in time, be used to repress internal dissent – again along the Cuban “Comite de Defensa de La Revolucion” pattern, where ostensibly anti-invasion groups become, in practice, instruments of dictatorial control.

Which is the usual problem with Forero’s reporting. He’s not usually wrong, but he fails to tease out the (to us) obvious implications of the news he reports. He still seems to roll his eyes when the opposition talks about cubanization – even as Chavez makes it a more and more explicit plank. Forero gives you the flour, the eggs, the milk, and the sugar…but he never gives you the cake.

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