A hat tip and an ear-tug

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IPYS's Blindspot
IPYS’s Blindspot

We already had a King of Re-Bar, and now we have an Aluminium Tsar. It’s great to see the Instituto Prensa y Sociedad’s Joseph Poliszuk really digging into the affairs of Roberto Wellisch, the Argentinian-Venezuelan Guayana entrepreneur who has quietly, over many years, colonized CVG’s aluminium operations. It’s the kind of careful, evidence-based journalistic investigation Venezuela is badly in need of, and Mr. Poliszuk, la patria te lo reconocerá.

So that’s the hat tip. Now to the jalón de oreja. These IPYS write ups are dry, dry, dry, dry, dry. And, the reality is, that badly limits their impact.

People need images, telling details, markers that hook into the imagination and make a story memorable. You don’t need to know all the ins-and-outs of the Derwick over-billing scandal to remember that these guys went and bought Aristotle Onassis’s old flat in Manhattan with friggin’ gold-plated bathroom fixtures. You don’t need to understand the ins and outs of Roberto Rincón’s Ovarb shenanigans to remember that his 21 year old kid, Ricky, wrapped a blue Ferrari F430 around a pine tree in the Houston ‘burbs back in 2011.

In the trade, it’s called “color.” And it may seem trivial, but it really isn’t. Color is the difference between a story people talk about around the water cooler and one that’s just added to the unending pile of scandals of the last 15 years. Color is what gives stories like this their vigencia social.

IPYS’s pieces are refreshingly research based. But they’re almost utterly color-blind. Which probably explains why when I posted on what ought to be a major story about Glencore 2 days ago, the post sank out of sight with a grand total of 8 comments and 9 retweets.

I want to know what car Roberto Wellisch’s kids drive. I want to know what who goes to his parties, and what booze he serves them. I want to know what the guy is like. I want the facts, yes, but I want more than the facts. I want the story. Ni es lo mismo ni es igual…

1 COMMENT

  1. “Ricky Rincón, wrapped a blue Ferrari F430 around a tree in the Houston ‘burbs back in 2011.”
    Is that he actual name or a pun? Anyway, hilarious.

  2. I am not so sure even the color helps anymore. There are so many scandals and so much corruption, Venezuelans are numb to it all. Chavismo has built a society in which corruption and thuggery are the only avenues to success.

  3. This Poliszuk guy is a good one. He writes for El Universal and his are some of the few articles I have seen there trying to give some decent analysis of the mess with the Belorussian projects or some of the Russia-Venezuela deals.
    Perhaps this guy is really doing too much for little money. In any case, even if his style is not for captivating masses: he does what very few journalists do in Venezuela these days.

  4. I think that the general public is so confused about what is truth and what is lie because of goverment propaganda and frecuent opposition cagadas that they’re just not listening anymore, they’re apathic to any claim that don’t affect them directly since that is the only way they can confirm or deny a “truth”, in the end it all comes down to wether you want to believe in a particular story or not independently of any logic or evidence, just like the mario silva tape.

  5. The US Attorney’s Office also uses “color” to hook a jury when financial misfeasance is the subject of an indictment.

    Along with allegations involving arcane financial double-doings, they always include a few allegations about the $7,000 mink underwear, or the fountain spraying Veuve Cliquot champagne on unclothed guests at the “private celebration.” Juries love to convict on these counts.

  6. Also, as a frequent participant of the forum, I did not comment on the Glencore article because it is not a topic of debate. A corruption scandal is just that. Make it a story or whatever and there is nothing to argue in a forum. GEHA’s articles (which are mostly about current issues) have the same trend, not because he is not an excellent writer, but because there is just less to debate on current issues. They are what they are.

    And as a follow up to my previous comment, I did spread the article, but not yours, but the original one, mainly because the original one was written in spanish. Nobody cares for spreading an english written article about a current issue in an spanish enviroment. The majority of my acquaintances are fluent in spanish and my united statians friends don’t care much about what happens outside their border (specially because there is a ton going on within). When you write about fundamental issues. Then, that’s something different.

    As a scientist one knows that numbers and stats are tools to help us validate hypothesis. You may have the wrong hypothesis in this case.

    • you are right about the language barrier part, if Toro wish to make a real impact, wich I think he could, he’ll have to write in spanish, but still, in the current state of affairs of things in venezuela people is far much concerned about finding harina pan than reading about corruption, unfortunately it seems you have to put sensacionalist “color” patilla style to stories in order to get the word spread

    • Roy,
      The need for forensic accountants started over 14 years ago. Chavez knew he had to hide all government finances otherwise his personal pay of $500,000/day* for 14 years might be questioned.

      *This excludes all benefits of housing, private jets, security guards, entertainment budgets, etc that went on his expense account. Chavez medical care in his last year likely exceeded $35 million.

  7. I have always assumed that most of us are multilingual and interested in world affairs in general and in Venezuela in particular. I forward many of the blogs to English-speaking friends, although as one of the comments emphasized, the U.S. has so much to worry about that the attitude is a greater than usual amount of apathy and tuning out of sound bites and ” experts” pontificating on what people should think.

  8. “… and an ear-tug.”

    A very interesting allusion. I wonder how many people get it. I also wonder if perhaps more Latine Americans get it than Yanquis – perhaps because there is more attention paid to that period of history there,

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