[Santana’s] skills also came into focus in Venezuela, where both Mr. Chávez, who died of cancer last month, and his opponent, Henrique Capriles Radonski, hired Brazilian consultants last year. Some critics of Mr. Chávez contended that it was an unfair race given the state propaganda apparatus at the incumbent’s disposal.
One prominent Venezuelan political blog, Caracas Chronicles, went so far as to call Mr. Santana a “Svengali,” recognizing his sway in such races. “It’s airbrush politics at its finest,” said Juan Nagel, an economist and a contributor to the blog, pointing to Mr. Santana’s skill in softening the image of leaders like Mr. Chávez, whose democratic credentials had been challenged.
“The Brazilian recipe, never mind that he’s helping elect horrible people, is all about winning,” Mr. Nagel said.
In a rare interview here, Mr. Santana hit back at the criticism about his work for Mr. Chávez, saying, “The impact our campaign had among Venezuelan voters speaks for itself.”
Yes, João. Your highly effective work contributed to the re-election of a man whose lax policies toward crime have resulted in the death of tens of thousands of my compatriots.
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