Necronepotism Chronicles


I mean no disrespect at all to a brave and illustrious lady whose only misfortune was to beget an oligophrenic child but…is there any imaginable justification for a 103-year old’s death to be given the full Mandela treatment for an entire week in El Nacional other than, y’know, the blindingly obvious?

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    • Possibly. I just hate what’s happened to El Nacional as an institution. MHO has no grasp of his civic duties, and no concept of decorum at all. It’s just sad…

      • 1) That is his Mom you (and he) are writing about
        2) She was not just some “encopetada”, she actually did some good
        3) It his paper. If he chooses to put her on a pedestal and treat her like Mandela, you can choose to not buy/read the paper.

        Must be a slow news day for you to harp about this……………………………….

        • 3) is exactly what I’m getting at – the whole “it’s my paper and I’ll cry if I want to” attitude sends me up a wall!

          El Nacional was supposed to be – como su nombre se indica – a national institution. MHO may own it, but if he respected it, he would treat it as a custodian, and he would put his duty to country first. But he doesn’t treat El Nacional as a custodian would, he treats it as a plaything, a place to play out his particular hobby horses and obsessions and to indulge his private grief.

          It’s been a week. The lady was 103 years old! Does he really think he’s doing his mom’s memory a service by demonstrating the society she helped create is one where you have to be a newspaper editor’s mom to be memorialized in this way?

          It’s just yucky…

          • Por favor… entonces El Universal y El Mundo deben ser instituciones universales y mundiales, como su nombre lo indica?

          • All newspapers are public institutions, even though their ownership may be private. To maintain that balancing act requires a talent that evidently MHO does not have (the understatement of the year!). And he might end up paying the price, as readership backs away from his paper. My family bought it every day, then weekly, now every one in a while.

            MHO puede pensar que se la está comiendo, but El Nacional, under his stewardship, is morally and editorially floundering. It may also be that it eventually goes under, too. Certainly, this sad degrading of a once proud paper is all more upsetting when its name is precisely El Universal, or El Nacional, etc. In this case, the nameplate rings hollow, phony and pretentious. We should be hoping for it to regain its old status, not justifying it a lo venezolano for merely operating as a pathetic rich man’s toy.

          • I’m obviously in a small minority in this thread, but it’s nice to know somebody gets it…

          • “MHO puede pensar que se la está comiendo…” Exactly as when he played his role in the election of… wait for it… yes! el mejmo!

          • I think that by exaggerating in that manner, he actually did a disservice to the memory of his mother, who deserved to be honored as the extraordinary woman she was, but all that obvious coverage only reads as nepotism specially to those who don’t know who she was.
            He is also a very bad manager, ask anyone who works in the paper. A friend who worked there had to way almost a year for his severance pay and he only got it when he threatened to sue. So much for labor rights.
            In any normal-functioning country, everyone is allowed to criticize the media, specially the content of what is suppose to be the most prestigious newspaper in the country. Can you imagine anyone defending the NY Times after the Blair scandal under the reasoning that it was a Private Corporation who could publish fake news if it wanted?

          • It’s all part of the polarized pluralist media model (

            While the whole ‘it’s my paper and I’ll publish what I want’ attitude also sends me up a wall seeing as I did study journalism, can we really expect anything more from a Latin American oligarch? I mean, El Nacional may be a cornerstone of the Venezuelan free press but it’s still run by a third-world oligarch who, for better or worse, can fill up an entire week’s editions with long-running commentary on his mommy. Is it even realistic to hold a Venezuelan paper to press standards more appropriate for Scandinavian country?

          • El Nacional is, above all else, a PRIVATE institution, more so than a NATIONAL one.

            VTV, is an example of a national institution as I understand it. A screwed up, partial to a POS autocrat SOB and his full of crap revolution, but there you have it.

            If the Ateneo was still in the hands it used to be in, if our society were a bit more “normal” then maybe we wouldn’t see a weeks worth of banners and headlines.

            As Bruni states below, “The Otero family has been specifically targeted and, among other things, the Chávez government removed its support for the old Ateneo de Caracas, which was one of the most venerable institutions Venezuela had. Chávez idea was to remove Otero’s influence and make people forget about the enormous cultural importance that such institution had.”

            If I were MHO, I would rub everything I could in Chavez’ face, more so in light of the legal attack on Globovision just yesterday

      • So what’s exactly your beef against MHO??

        Because or there is a reason of why the editor and owner can do with his newspaper as he pleased as long he is not breaking law.

        This blog is sounding a bit personal and less professional.

  1. with all due respect, even as a caraquena, and
    I know I’ve been out of the loop for decades,
    who’s being tagged oligophrenic*?
    and if it is a slow news day,
    could los despistados del mundo como yo,
    be offered a bit of background filler?
    *[Functional mental impairment,
    meaning the person is not operating at the expected level,
    usually not diagnosed until older than 4 years….]

  2. I read El Nacional every day. I sincerely don’t understand the animus against El Nacional, particularly as it relates to “civic duties”. On human rights issues, it seems to me the editorial line is a model of clarity. They could use more and better reporters? So could every newspaper on the planet right now. I don’t understand. Regards,

  3. FT, there may be some truth in what you say, but “El Nacional” has done a lot for the democratic cause lately (albeit maybe less so than “El Universal”), and, anyway, I’m sure you know the dangers in Venezuela of “messing with someone’s Momma”.

      • I agree with you there. But the problem is that “El Nacional” is a family business, and if he had been born in a different family or if “El Nacional” behaved less like a family business and more like a business he probably would have never been appointed editor.

        But this wasn’t the case, nor is going to change. But in a world with choices you can choose not to read what you don’t like.

      • Exactly. When Chávez is finally gone, and EN has no compass of its own besides hating him, the editorial gaping hole will be glaring. Besides, EN is not even a regional paper now: it’s an Altamira paper.

  4. Quico, I think you are missing something here. Your criticism would be valid in a “normal” society. In Venezuela, there is selective forgetfulness, depending on the goverment that is in place. It has always been the case, but since Chávez has been in power, who writes the history and who controls the media is a much more active undertaking. Chávez has gone beyond any other goverment before, trying to erase or modify Venezuela’s history.

    The Otero family has been specifically targeted and, among other things, the Chávez government removed its support for the old Ateneo de Caracas, which was one of the most venerable institutions Venezuela had. Chávez idea was to remove Otero’s influence and make people forget about the enormous cultural importance that such institution had.

    What El Nacional is doing is preserving the wonderful legacy of Maria Teresa Castillo, despite the efforts of the goverment to erase it. Sure, she happened to have been the director’s mother, but nevertheless, she was a cultural icon and she deserves to be remembered. So El Nacional uses its power to make sure that that is the case. When three hundred years from now historians would go back to old newspapers, they would know about her, even if the goverment tries to erase her memory.

  5. This is an all too familiar incident that happens when someone dies and the US news media wants to (or doesn’t) remember them. When Ronald Regan died, conservative and republican tv news stations websites and newspapers spent months remembering him. Note that none were related to Regan himself. However, liberal shows papers spoke of it (or said nothing at all) and moved on.

    Either way Quico, you will never truly escape this type of journalism no matter where you go. To many or even one person, Maria Teresa Castillo was a great person. Just take it with a grain of salt. Good journalism is hard to find 🙂

  6. Bruni,

    “What El Nacional is doing is preserving the wonderful legacy of Maria Teresa Castillo, despite the efforts of the government to erase it. ”

    I think you captured the essence here.Very much related to that I would add, that Venezuela needs the self -esteem to fight the coming battle of winning the election, and for that we need to use our better role models who represent our better qualities.There is so much negative out there that tends to emphasize only the dark side.

  7. Bruni, good for you. El que este libre de culpa que tire la primera piedra. Quico get off his back, it’s his mom, his paper and she was an icon.

  8. I dont know, when Lady Di died the british ( heck the whole world) press went gaga for weeks and months. I understand it was news,unexpected, tragic, but every insignificant detail on and on?That el nacional goes on a bit about Maria Teresa is entirely in keeping with our times. And MTC contributed as much or more to Venezuelan political & cultural life than the said princess…..,etc,etc

  9. MHO’s editorial skills would even be funny if they had not contributed actively to the mess the country is in. I think the Otero family will be just another example of that old aphorism:
    Padre, caballero
    Hijo, aventurero
    Nieto, pordiosero

  10. What you’re saying is true. To put matters in perspective, if Rupert Murdoch’s mother died The London Times, the Wall Street Journal and Fox News wouldn’t all over it as this is the case. One thing is all the good things the late wife of Miguel Otero Silva which deserve acknowledgement and another thing is Henrique Otero’s own grievance that has no place in our nation’s leading newspaper. At all.

    But yeah, you were a bit too harsh on him.

  11. Hey Toro blink once if MHO is pointing a gun at you, forcing you to read his newspaper.

    BTW, I think there are enough material to criticize some media, like VTV, public radios and government’s newspaper where they show you know who as the next coming of god or something.

    Let that “oligophrenic child” spend his money as he please and focus on the real issue, that is the government spending more money on political advertisement than any other government since the independence war.

    • Within this line of reasoning, this is FT’s blog, it’s his money and he can write whatever he pleases, besides deciding what the real issue is, this being his blog, isn’t it?

      If that’s your way of thinking, go do your own blog about whatever you consider the “real” issue.

      • It’s even more senseless than that, because the things I’m being accused of – treating this place as an outlet for my personal peeves, obsessions, interests, biases and rants – are entirely appropriate in a blog, and (my point from the beginning) just as entirely inappropriate for a newspaper.

        But I just take it as another sign of the deep confusion about the public sphere that now permeates Venezuelan public life. That MHO has no idea how to run a newspaper is sad enough – that he gets so little push back is sadder…

      • Well other juan, I wasn’t making any comment about the author itself, just his article, whereas the article of this blog sounded a little bit personal and was a direct attack to MHO. Not that MHO is an acquaintance of mine, but I do find very odd and strange when someone address other person in a subtle but personal way. I’m just saying.

        That’s MHO money he can throw his money out the windows, and that would be his right, whereas Venezuelan media, can not spend not even a single cent for political advertisement for the benefit of the guy running the office.

        I know for quite some time el nacional, and once a while they do write articles, magazines about Venezuelan History, important people of the past 200 years, Venezuelan scenary. So why they wouldn’t make a recognition over their founders and most remarkable editors. So name an important newspaper that haven’t done that? Or companies that don’t make special celebrations for their founders?

        So yes there is a big confusion about public sphere, and that is when you somehow manage to get a blog you think that you have the right to criticize somebody else, is funny to see you guys trying to comfort each other. no, That was sad… sorry the confusion is Altamira all over again.


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