Hang Jim Wyss, to scare the others


In Voltaire’s Candide, the character of Pangloss is hanged as a warning to others. I thought about this when reading the Miami Herald’s Jim Wyss tell, in his own words, the harrowing 48 hours he spent in custody at the hands of Venezuelan kleptocrats.

The money quote:

There were reasons to worry. This year alone, four reporters have been detained and 33 have been attacked in Venezuela, according to the Espacio Público free-speech organization. Tim Tracy, a U.S. filmmaker, was detained in April and held for more than a month — part of that time in a notoriously violent jail — before being expelled from the country.

And as the Inspector reminded me, Maduro often accuses the Miami press of being part of a cabal that wants to destabilize the government. It’s all part of what press freedom organizations view as increasing threats against the media in Latin America.

I know some of the foreign correspondents read Caracas Chronicles. So, putting aside the fact that you pros hate being the story instead of telling the story … does the Wyss affair make you scared to cover Venezuela? Does it make you think twice about the tone in which you write?

Feel free to mouth off (under aliases) in the comments section, or send me an email.

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      • That’s nonsense! The foreign journalists have every right to do their jobs. Besides, the local Venezuelan journalists are constrained in ways the foreigners are not.

    • Verga, Chamo! Porque deberia estar necessario ser latino? Esta culpando la victima por las crimenes del malandro. Es lo mismo de culparse la chica por su violacion.

      • That doesn’t make sense. If you go on a mission to FuckMekistan to document the Taliban’s cutting fingers and other appendages, you don’t see someone blonde. That is just asking for trouble; you’ll get unwanted attention, won’t accomplish the task, and risk your life. What you do instead is send someone with a beard and who speaks fluent the native tongue. That is just common, practical sense.

      • No es que culpe a las victimas, o a estos reporteros… mas bien los admiro por querer venir a Venezuela, aun sabiendo como estan las cosas. Creo que a cada uno de esos reporteros le preguntan como 100 veces si estan seguros de ir a Venezuela. Pero por que tienes que ir para alla??? No se que los mueve, pero los admiro solo por eso, por querer hacer su trabajo arriesgando su propia integridad fisica.

        Pero a estas alturas, el regimen esta pasando por unos niveles de paranoia nunca antes visto, que raya en lo ridiculo, es una tragico-media. Son capaces de tumbar una mata de mango con C4, si a maduro le cae un mango en la cabeza.

        Ve a los articulos de Venezuela en la BBC, donde hay muchos comunistas come mierda, justificando la detencion de este periodista y de otros, como medida preventiva para detener posibles agentes encubiertos de la CIA. Se basan en Argo, operacion mockingbird etc etc.

        Si asi son los comemierdas de afuera, imaginate los que estan en Venezuela.

  1. “In San Cristóbal, people line up for hours to buy a few kilograms of flour. On the Colombian side, that same flour crams storefronts and is hawked by street vendors”

    That’s the real story here, the Colombian border. Can you imagine the ‘economic activity’ going-on in and around San Cristobal with a black market rate 10 times the official rate? It’s going to get worse. There’s gold to be made in them thar hills…..! (and most people now it)

    • I have family who lives on the border frontier area in Tachira not far from San Cristobal, and they relate how a lot of people are getting in on the action, including members of the military and the always friendly guerrilla, who have secret mountain passes for people to go transport their contraband (provided you pay a nice tax to the them!).

      One girl was paying for her private college through smuggling gasoline.

      • I became really interested in the whole gasoline smuggling business about a year ago, and I quickly realized how much money there was to be made, it’s crazy to think that due to inflation and the rise of the parallel dollar it’s now even better business (The peso-dollar rate has changed little and inflation in Colombia is below 3%, with gas prices increasing slightly)

        Even if you’re foolish enough to change your pesos or dollars at the 6,30 rate, the difference in gas prices is sooooo huge you’re still in the money. A gallon of gas in Bogotá is at around 4 dollars (corriente), and can reach 5 dollars for premium or súper gasoline. I think in Cúcuta it should be at around 3 dollars/gallon.

        I’d love to hear an economist’s opinion, but it seems that this (and other smugglings) is a reason why there is some demand for BsF in Cúcuta and they’re actually worth something.

  2. last para. by Wyss is priceless:
    Municipal elections are coming up next month, and I hope to cover them. And I’m still looking for those statistics on contraband. General: You have my phone numbers – and the contact information of everyone I’ve ever known. Call me

    • That’s just me, but I’ll be frightened knowing that these thugs have the names and phone number of everyone I know. Just for precaution he should ask his friends/family/colleagues to change their numbers, all 1314 of them.

  3. Well I am not journalist. But I am Venezuelan. I help to a bunch of Americans working for a middle East Oil company doing recruiting 2005. My work was being pretty ( No miss Venezuela aI am far from that ) and pass the resumes ( Of course everyone has to speak English)…We received of course expdvsa , end even one guy that told me that he alone saved the pdvsa from the golpistas…We received everyone… The trip was stopped when in part of the recruiting tour…some GN look at the airport a bunch of gringos, and they open their mouth to say that they were recruiting oil people… Yes I spent the next 15 hours “detained” , but at the comedor there at the airport in Maracaibo. Ye I do have my phone, but we could not get away…after 10 hours well they gave me some chips…When I saw 4 Sebin (by that time another (name) I really get scared… We started calling everyone ( the recruiting company Colombians, and the american were like no this is nothing…The american embassy never does anything) Well thanks to the 2 stupid girls from Venezuelan and their families, the consulate. D.O.S, and journalist stated saying things… Of course I had to make jokes with the soldiers, they never tell me bad things, ( the americans t=did not understand how I could be so nice for them…ok they do not understand the dynamic, they were going away, I lived there)… The thing we need to wait for a General, of course, someone started dreaming of the prize for the Comandante! (BY the way was the same week Posada Carriles was going to be freed in the USA)
    Next day we arrive in caracas, yes I take them everywhere I could think ( I felt so guilty of that thing…. On Sunday we had another recruitment event…until Sunday Morning , there was an Article , citing anonymous sources saying that the americans where in the country to destroy the pipelines!!!!! and now that thing was going to be a political problem dealt by cancilleria… Well , I went and talk to the Senior Guy, translated. (explained to him who posada carriles was)..and they made their decision, of course get away…you don’t need to look American, you only need some moron that think that making up something could be the new star inside the chavismo or whatever they are called today…

  4. Good thing he is safe. My theory is, foreign journalists were relatively unmolested under Chavez because whatever negative they might say about the situation in Venezuela, the media invariably referenced the charismatic leader’s antics, fed his narcissism, and were therefore welcome.

    My guess is, there will be no ‘Barbara Walters interview’ with Maduro, and so the days of tolerance of the foreign press are over.

    • I would rather see Mike Wallace tear Maduro to shreds. That would have been fun to watch.

      But, you are right about Chavez and the media. He used to play them like a fiddle. Maduro cannot, and therefore he has no use for them. In fact, I predict that all foreigners are going to come under increasing suspicion and pressure as this farce plays itself out to its logical and bitter conclusion.

        • Dios! I hope they don’t take the page out of the USSR handbook that implemented “Floor Ladies”. These were large scary looking women that were posted on every floor of a hotel to control the keys and keep an eye on all the comings and goings of everyone in the hotel.

  5. Pangloss is not hanged in ”Candide”; he is alive and well at the end – though brutally snubbed by the Dervish. You are probably thinking of this passage in Chapter XXIII: CANDIDE AND MARTIN TOUCHED UPON THE COAST OF ENGLAND, AND WHAT THEY SAW THERE.

    Talking thus they arrived at Portsmouth… a fine man kneeling, with his eyes bandaged, on board one of the men of war in the harbour. Four soldiers … each … fired three balls at his head…

    Candide… asked who was that fine man who had been killed… he was an Admiral.

    “And why kill this Admiral?”

    “…in this country it is found good, from time to time, to kill one Admiral to encourage the others.”

    Voltaire alluded to the 1757 execution of Admiral Byng, who was made the scapegoat for the loss of Minorca to the Spanish.

    The last phrase is often quoted in the original French: pour encourager les autres.

  6. A comment from a foreign correspondent friend: no, we are not scared … yet. Estos son gajes del oficio. The Tim Tracy thing, that’s scary. They don’t think there are orders from the higher-ups to screw with foreign correspondents.

    • That is true… Be afraid of other people in airports etc un tenientico, que se quiera ganar una estrella, y arme un lío…eso fue todo lo que le pasó al gringo…más nada


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