Overkill is thy enemy

Partners in crime?
Partners in crime?

One of the challenges of writing about Venezuela for a foreign audience is that while your readers may be less informed about the country than you are, they generally have a refined sense of BS detection. Tell them what is going on, and they will be amazed, horrified even. But if you go too far with your stories and begin peddling unsubstantiated stuff, or even stuff that is likely true but not yet proven and highly unbelievable anyway, then you lose them.

The trick is to inform them of just how crazy Venezuela is without going overboard and losing credibility. It’s an uncommon skill, knowing when to stop.

I thought about this when reading John M. Ackerman’s piece for Foreign Policy on Mexico.

Ackerman, as far as I know, is a left-wing writer. He clearly despises the Peña Nieto government, and believes the protests currently happening there are entirely justified. Mexico is corrupt, violent, and downright disgusting to him. The 43 missing students are just the spark that broke the camel’s back, or something.

But it’s one thing to say that, and quite another to say that “President Barack Obama and the United States Congress are directly responsible for the tragedy of the 43 missing, and likely massacred, student activists in the Mexican state of Guerrero — and for the political crisis that has followed.”

I think Ackerman has some valid claims. I am certain that Peña Nieto and his government are not guiltless in all that is happening. With some effort, I could even consider the idea that Peña Nieto had the 43 students killed.

But Obama and the Congress? *Directly* responsible?

The link he makes is beyond flimsy. Obama supports Peña Nieto, and has been generously funding the war on the drug cartels. The two countries’ armed forces share intelligence. The US has failed to condemn Mexico for human rights violations. That, John M., does not mean the US is directly responsible for the tragedy.

John M., here’s my friendly advice. Less … is more. I’ve been in the business of decoding crazy to gringos for quite some time, and you just lost half your readership with such an outlandish statement. Try and make the facts speak for themselves. If you must analyze, do so with caution by offering original nuggets that sometimes run counter-culture. And if all you have to say is a cliché such as “it’s all the Americans’ fault,” then better not say it at all.

Just some friendly advice, blogger-to-blogger.