Hugo Chávez: paragon of journalism

After postumely win an award for his journalistic skills, could a similar recognition for his music habilities come next?
After the posthumous journalism award, what’s next? Maybe a Latin Grammy?

Today, Hugo Chávez won the 2013 Simón Bolívar National Journalism Award, three months after his passing to the day.

The jury’s citation credits him for: “… the creation and support of public and popular media outlets, fighting the media’s lies and disinformation and rescuing our history, culture and traditions…”

It’s undeniable that his use (and abuse) of the media was a key to his rise (and hold on) to power and his model of “communicational hegemony” is now mimicked in the entire region, like in Ecuador and Argentina. In some twisted way, the award makes sense.

For the record, all but two winners (two regional newspapers of Barinas and Maracay) of this year’s edition are journalists or entities from the State Media System (SIBCI).

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  1. Quoting (and translating) REAL journalist Celina Carquez: The National Journalism Award is and has always been a political award. But this time they went a bit too far.
    Funny, I always thought us journalists had to kill ourselves working to get some recognition; turns out, we just had to die, apparently.

    • Páez wanted to rename Caracas “Bolívar” around 1842, when he started the second wave of personality cult around that character (the first wave being initiated by Bolívar himself). At the end, the opposition of many who did know Bolívar prevented that and only Angostura got the name.

        • I have read a couple of the usual standard Venezuelan biographies. Now I find them completely in the irrational side, even to explain such things as how Bolívar betrayed Miranda or decided to liberate the slaves or get Piar executed…and they hardly go into the economic disaster, the censorship and so on.

          The best biography I have read, I think, is in German: “Simón Bolívar: Die Lebensgeschichte des Mannes, der Lateinamerika befreite”, by Robert Rehrmann.
          He makes references but goes beyond what John Lynch wrote (that’s perhaps another interesting reading).
          Rehrmann adds a lot of context and made a lot of reference to the reinvention of Bolivar by Bolívar himself and then by Páez. Manuel Caballero’s Por qué no soy un bolivariano has some interesting thoughts and references to the creation of the Bolívar myth, although he doesn’t go so deeply and it seems he greatly overlooked what Páez did before him and why (huge economic crisis in the forties, coffee prices went down, Páez needed to unite Venezuela around himself).
          I think you should take a look, at least browse, what Ducoudray Holstein wrot: Memoirs of Simon Bolivar. Holstein, whose work was used by Marx, has been reviled because “the reason he wrote that was that he got mad with Bolívar”. I don’t think that’s a criteria for making him less reliable than someone who was within Bolívar’s inner circle until his death.
          At least browse his book (you can get the pdf for free from Google books). Use a pinch of salt. His description of Bolívar’s management of usual affairs is very interesting, as well as how Bolívar acted in Ocumare, among other things.

          You might also take a look at something only tangentially related to Bolívar, but important for our history, nonetheless:

          It was a lot about opening up markets for Britain initially together with the dynamics that the end of the Napoleonic wars produced with all those jobless soldiers.

          The whole business was OK for Britain (not for most of the soldiers, who died, but for some exceptions like ), but Venezuela ended up as a nation deeply indebted nation and strongly under the control of its military caste, sometimes in conjunction with the surviving few of the old elite that decided to play along the Bolívar cult. Venezuela became more feudal than ever because of Bolívar’s personal ambitions (specially in trying to make it believe he was needed for the liberation of Peru)

          Here (among other places) you can read a bit of the whole show Páez put forward.
          This was written by a certain Fermín Toro…todo queda en familia. There

          • If you are looking at a textbook style biography of El Libertador, I’d go with Bolivar, A Life by John Lynch. It reads…like a textbook, but includes a lot of extra stuff about Venezuela of that time period. Said book was originally written in English and is used in a number of LatAm studies/history departments.

          • Trust Pitiyanqui to make such good recommendation ! Lynch as a professional british historian did a very decent well researched job with Bolivars life history , he went over awkward aspects of Bolivars career which many historians ignore or deal with superficially. He is not an elegant writer (strange for a british historian) but still very accurate and thorough. From the late 90’s a new generation of Venezuelan historians have made studies of bolivar more impartially critical . The historiography on bolivar in spanish is vast and varied and includes many impressive works, One of my favourites is a detailed military history of his campaigns called Cronica Razonada de las Guerras de Bolivar (3 volumes) . Im told of a french biographers book which is perhaps one of the best biographies of all but which is nearly impossible to obtain. On the mainly irish napoleonic war veterans whom bolivar recruited there is a recent book by Edgardo Mondolfi Cugat , el Lado Oscuro de la Epopeya which is superb in every way!!

          • I mentioned Lynch above as well, it’s good but I prefer the book by Rehrmann, specially for the treatment he does of the myth later on. Unfortunately, I don’t think it will be translated into other languages any time soon, specially as the author died recently.

            You can download old Villaume Ducoudray Holstein’s book here. Just bear in mind it’s a book of its time and read it with a pinch of salt.

          • There is an excellent book by Ines Quintero ( a very serious and respected professional historian) who blasts away at Marxs treatment of Bolivar , shows him to have been very slap dash and ignorant about many details of Bolivars life. I ve found that there are many interesting witness acounts of bolivar strewn about in many small lost publications which never make it to the most known biographies . Most of them by foreign contemporary visitors or diplomats or european legionaires who met bolivar at some time or another. They give us a view of Bolivar which is intimate , revealing and not to be found in formal biographies.

          • Bill,

            I don’t know why people pay too much attention to Marx on Bolívar. After all, Marx wrote that little piece based to earn some money as a free writer and based his research on what he read from others and his own, very Europe-centred interpretation of the whole thing. He based himself mostly on Ducoudray Holstein and Gustave Hippisley, I think. But I have read and re-read Ducoudray & Hippisley and I don’t see in how many things they could have been wrong. Marx takes what he read a step farther.

            One interesting thing I found was to read a bit what Alexander von Humboldt actually thought of Bolívar. They actually never met. They were not such friends as people wrote, even if Humboldt thanks Bolívar for some help in logistics while trying to take some stuff to Europe. Humboldt expressed to his friends his concerns about where Bolívar was leading the Gran Colombia.

            You are right one can find a lot of treasures among the accounts from different visitors of that time.

          • Kepler : Just started to skim through Villaume Ducoudray Holstein’s book and its crammed full with all sorts of yummy historical details , what a treasure trove of historical narrative, very sharp comments too , thank you for posting it !! Too bad I havent the german to try and read the Rehrmann book too !!

  2. Don´t know about the Barinas rag but El Siglo, even though it is not government sponsored is unmistakably very gov biased, as are the other two major Maracay papers: Aragueño and Periodiquito.

  3. Por cierto, quiénes serán los Bernstein & Woodward venezolanos que irán al fondo del “Rupertigate”, del “Silvagate”, y tantos otros que están por venir? Parece que la colección de grabaciones es importante, y la van administrando au plaisir.

  4. I was under the impression that journalist was someone who reported news or maybe commented news not someone whose life was dedicated to BEING the news , under that definition Chavez could never be accounted a Journalist. His avocation was more in the nature of an Entertainer , of the ‘snake oil salesman’ type, As a professional showman he could aspire to a different kind of prize , something like the Venezuelan equivalent of the US Tony Awards. The bestowers of the price seriously miscast Chavez in a role he never was interested in playing !!

  5. Hugo Chavez Freedom of Press Award

    Irony in it’s purest state. Hugo Chavez Freedom anything… Cracks me up.

    • Its difficult to think of Chavez as a journalist because he never wrote anything , although he did speak a lot before the cameras , did that make him a TV newscaster ? doubt it beause he did it always by way of advertising himself not to broadcast any news other than those he was himself making . De Selvy is right the prize is just an example of the regime descending into pure farce !!


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