Quico says: When even a bastion of the Upper West Side intelligentsia such as The New York Review of Books decides to run with the Human Rights Watch expulsion story, you just know that whatever credibility chavismo may once have had with the respectable northern left has been put through a blender, mushified, then nuked, dynamited and buried in a deep sea pit.
Vivanco and Wilkinson’s piece is meticulously, understatedly brutal in a way that’s far more damaging to the government’s image than any amount of Colominesque hyperventilatory ranting could ever be. It’s great fun to read. I’ll cite just one particularly effective graf:
Human Rights Watch does not and has never accepted funding from the US or any government, directly or indirectly. But we are accustomed to such false accusations, especially coming from authoritarian governments. Venezuelan officials have repeatedly denounced us as CIA stooges, right-wing partisans, and, more commonly, “mercenaries of the empire.” (By contrast, in neighboring Colombia, officials have repeatedly sought to discredit us with labels like Communist, guerrilla sympathizer, and even terrorist.) Once, after releasing another report in Caracas, one of us was publicly and falsely accused by Chávez’s vice-president of having collaborated with former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. This time, a close Chávez ally in the legislature suggested on national TV that the two of us had been sharing a single hotel room where we were indulging our “weaknesses.”