Leopoldo in depth

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This Foreign Policy piece by Roberto Lovato has gotten a bit of pushback because of its less-than-rosy account of the public persona of Leopoldo López. And, in particular, for its cryptochavista fixation with the events of April, 2002.

Putting that aside, though, it’s an accomplished, in-depth look at López’s life and career – where he grew up, who his mentors were, what his allies think of him, and what his history is/was during Venezuela’s tumultous recent periods.

In trying to convey why so many chavistas loathe Leopoldo, it falls a bit into propaganda, but ultimately, one man’s propaganda is another man’s reason for sticking with the government that is impoverishing him. All points of view are present.

I think the piece deserves a close read. While certainly sympathetic to left-wing views, it is not a hack job, and it is not deceptive. The sirloin, for me, is the issue of how the Carmona coup is something the opposition simply doesn’t talk about, hinting about how that makes them come across as less than sincere:

“The attempted coup remains very unpopular in Venezuela, in no small part because of Carmona’s decision to throw out the constitution, a document that just three years earlier had been approved by an overwhelming majority of Venezuelans, including many opposition sympathizers. A September 2003 poll by Datanálisis, one of Venezuela’s most prominent polling firms, found that more than 90 percent of respondents preferred that the country’s political crisis be resolved by legal, democratic, and peaceful means. The unpopularity of the coup was further confirmed by Chávez’s resounding victory in a 2004 recall election. And those two days in 2002 remain a “delicate” subject among the opposition, according to Datanálisis’s president, Luis Vicente León. “They did something they’ve tried to forget,” he said, “and they want to keep it that way.”

López and his allies on the radical flank of the opposition have long tried to distance themselves from its memory. Over the years, López has emphasized that he did not sign Carmona’s decree — no evidence indicates that he did — and that he had no role in organizing the coup attempt. “At no point was López ever a proponent of the coup, nor was he allied with the business leaders who led it,” the white paper by his attorneys reads. The paper was released on July 21, 2014, at a National Press Club press conference that featured an emotional appeal by Tintori for “solidarity” and for her husband’s release from jail. “It breaks my heart,” she told the gathering of journalists and supporters, “having to explain to my daughter after every visit why her daddy can’t come home.”

But news reports, parliamentary records, U.S. government documents, video recordings, and interviews show that López was not quite as remote from the coup attempt and its plotters as he and his representatives claim. Coup leaders and Carmona signatories included figures who were at the time, or are now, members of López’s inner circle. Harvard-educated Leopoldo Martínez, for several years an opposition leader in parliament, led Primero Justicia with López; he was designated finance minister of the short-lived Carmona government. Maria Corina Machado, López’s closest ally, who joined him in calling for last February’s protests, was a signatory; as was Manuel Rosales, a former leader of Un Nuevo Tiempo, a party that López joined and helped build in 2007 (and was expelled from in 2009). Also among the roughly 400 business, military, media, and political figures to sign the decree during a raucous ceremony in April 2002 at Miraflores — while Chávez was being held, not far away, at a military installation — was Leopoldo López Gil, López’s father.”

1 COMMENT

  1. Accomplished!? ACCOMPLISHED?!!?!!?!

    Look, I’m far from a Leopoldo fan but to call this accomplished is like calling Luisa Ortega’s handling of the Afiuni case professional.

    This is a loathsome hit-job pulled off by a hostile intellectual who never actually puts two-and-two together, never gets the memo on the way chavista “justice” works, never actually grasps what the rest of the opposition’s beef with Leopoldo is, and in general doesn’t seem to have the slightest shard of a clue of dónde está parado…

    Vile, vile crap in a publication that ought to know much better.

    • It’s accomplished in the sense that it’s thorough, and tries to present López from all points of view. I think that was the goal of the writer, and I think he reached it. That is called an accomplishment in my book.

      • Don’t be naive. This is a PR exercise as any other, that reads as a soap opera. The rich boy, self confessed 1% eager to get to power whatever it takes. And you and me, probably with the same background know how far that is from the truth. This fails to mention many facts, it is a perfect eample of bias cherry picking. The truth is that Leopoldo is part of a whole picture, a very tragic one for any venezuelan, and the difference is that he has dedicated his entire life to achieve something politically amidst the most difficult environment in recent memory. And because of having his skin in the game he is in prison and not necessarily enjoying his privileges and background.

        Whatever your disagreements, and errors we as venezuelans must keep that in mind, and thus this article is a PR stunt that responds to the interest of someone directly affected by Leopoldo’s existence.

        Trevor S. FitzGibbon and Roberto Lovato are liars and as any other PR the are willing to do whatever it takes to make a buck in order to pay for the priveleges that Leopoldo can’t in prison and for having the skin in the game.

    • Q this was my favotite post of u in the decade and more i vbeen reading u…
      theres no context… its like im a venezuelan and i’d been reading that all those years while im at… a country club in upper east caracas eating caviar… or at the bicentenario in cc costa verde maracaibo pa comprar leche em polvo pa hacer sustagen pa los muchachos… which is where i should be, cause there is no leche… y el sustagen lo compre a 4 veces el precio bachaqueao.

  2. It felt to me like the author had a conclusion and tried to find evidence to prove his conclusion. There are huge sections of the piece that, instead of providing any concrete evidence LL did anything simply relies on insinuation and guilt by association (“Lopez might not of have done it, but a guy he knows did”). Maybe there is a there there, but this piece certainly didn’t find it.

    • That is called “speak for the belly’s cover”, which translates to “hablar por la tapa de la barriga”, you can use the expression “crazy bullshit” too (“paja loca”)

  3. According to the FT text the piece was funded sponsored by the Puffin Foundation a NY institution dedicated to “opening the doors of artistic expression by providing grants to artists and art organizations who are often excluded from mainstream opportunities due to their race, gender, or social philosophy.” , it also sponsors the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Association ( the brigade was made up mostly of communist americans who joined the republican spanish army during the spanish civil war)’ which among other things promotes ‘social activitsm.’ Lovato is decribed to be a visiting professor at the Berkeley Latino Studies Department in Berkeley University . Does that suggest to us something of the progressive ideological inclinations of the people ordering the piece, of the likelihood that it includes some ‘progressive’ american Chavez sympathyzers . Why is a foundation dedicated to giving grants to artists and art organizations funding this politically loaded piece ??

    • God bless your cotton socks, BB, for that digging, which was next on my list, but which would not have been as complete.

      • The piece is undeniably chavista, but I think it’s not pure propaganda. There is an attempt at fairness that one does not find in pieces such as this.

        • beware of the attempts at fairness and suss out the real motive, Juan, which is to give to foreign observers/readers a patina of fairness (like the regime gives a patina of democracy).

    • It’s a far-left funder. One of its grantees is the “Rosenberg Foundation”, dedicated to the Stalinist spies Julius and Ethel. Its Abraham Lincoln Brigade Association has been mentioned.

      If this article seems relatively objective, it is only be contrast with the ludicrous vituperation spewed by overt Chavistas.

  4. You lost me when I read “coup” there.

    Too prochaburro there, I still laugh at the fact that there are so many folks talking shit about USA in the middle of USA, yet they whine and cry everytime anyone says some truth about chaburro dictatorship.

  5. …its cryptochavista fixation with the events of April, 2002….

    The cryptoid elements are much less so when you ask yourself: Why, in Lovato’s various iterations of the events of April 2002, beautifully woven throughout his piece, is there no mention of the monumental announcement by Chávez’s own Minister of Defense, General Lucas Rincon, who via television broadcast asserted on April 12, 2002 that Chávez had accepted his resignation? That’s too big of an item to miss for an author who tries to frame his writing as having the appearance of non-bias to foreign readers, unfamiliar with the nuances of Venezuelan politics. In fact, Lovato ensures that he dispels any questioning about the resignation by using an indirect quote from then interior minister Chacín, who said, no, Chávez did not resign.

    Uh-huh. To further nail the deflection, Lovato adds another end-of-paragraph assertion, two paragraphs later, as in ‘when it was no longer plausible to claim that Chávez had resigned’.

    In spite of Lovato’s repeated weavings of the events of April 2002, he craftily sidesteps its cause (Chávez’s order of firing on peaceful protesters, and the army’s opposition to this horrific presidential action). What kind of author purposely omits cause? I’ll tell you. One who is bent on manipulating the narrative. And so, Lovato uses clever authoring to seed doubt about the opposition via the placement (behold the ‘accomplishment’!) of last-sentence assertions of several paragraphs.

    He also sidesteps the manipulation from the regime on the electoral front when Lovato mentions that ‘the opposition lost big’ without mentioning the gerrymandering.

    • Excellent point! “Craftily sidestepping” is precisely how it’s done. Ignore the obvious points and then concentrate on a political agenda.

    • IF the Oppo had any sense, they would be proud of the events of 2002, up to the Carmona fiasco, since a bloodthirsty/immoral President was forced to step down before he could cause the deaths of more innocent civilians. Chavez resigned, as per Lucas Rincon’s “…el cual acepto.”, which written resignation (a buen resguardo por Lucas Rincon mismo)) was Lucas Rincon’s get-out-of-jail free/positions-ambassadorships pass in future Chavez governments. The 2004 Referendum was the first election fixed by Smartmatic, as the Oppo pollster’s exit poll 60/40 loss projection was turned into a 60/40 win for Chavismo, the first time the pollster had been wrong, much less by this much. The Carmona fiasco in not forming a coalition Government, including prominent military, is inexcusable, and indicates a gross misunderstanding of Venezuela’s history and political/social reality, which continues today in much of the Oppo leadership…. .

      • “la cual acecto (sic)” –_ Se le solicito la renuncia al señor presidente la cual acecto… Besides I even know people that were in miraflores that day, jus because they were nearby (yes crazy, but seriously that was a disaster)

  6. The piece is slanted in the way it uses neutral aseptic langugage to describe govt actions and behaviour which are clearly condemnable , in the way it phocus on events in a way that it attempts to induce the reader to look at this delinquent regime as ordinarily legitimate and democratic and LL and other oppo leaders as extremists and as prima facie promoters of street violence. In the way it silences or underepresents the reality of the govts misdeeds and underhanded manouveering !!

    Right of the bat there are two things which the piece includes which falsifies things , one the whole episode with the minister that took refuge in an apartment and was being cornered by an angry mob bent on harming him phisically , The LL I myself saw when he was brought out of the building was clearly trying to protect him from the mob , at the time I was incensed at the violence of the mob and gratified that LL had the presence of mind of rescuing the guy from his predicament .

    Secondly the whole acccusation of PJ recieving a grant from Pdvsa at a time when LL’s mother was working there makes it seem as if this was illegal which it was not , there existed a internal corporate norm ( not a law) that provided for a process to be followed where a company grant could have conflict of interest implications because of a relationship between the employee authorizing the grant and a relative being part of the party recieving the grant or donation . Those grants were generally granted on the basis of collegiate decisions using certain strict procedures not at the whim of any specific employee . My understanding is that LL’s mother at the time the grant was made did not authorize the grant but that the decision was taken by a special committee which found it jusfiable . It was even possible for the grant to be made if the employee made certain declaration informing the company of the relationship. The piece makes it seem as if LLs mother took the decision on her own despite there being a law which forbade it which not the case . It also suggests that LL worked for Pdvsa at the time which is something Im rather doubtful was ever the case.

    The main point of the piece is that LL together with part of the oppo were simpathetic to the attempted coup which is indeed a live point , not because LL was involved in any specific collaboration but because there is even today a big part of the oppo which was then simpathetic to the coup attempt and there has ever been much effort to examine whether such attitude was ever legitimate or not . Perhaps this is a topic that deserves being examined.!!

    • I think the issue of the PDVSA loan to PJ deserves scrutiny, such as what Lovato tries to do, and such as what you’re trying to do Bill Bass. Kudos.

      • This is the part of the piece which refers to the Pdvsa donation :
        “In 1998, a comptroller general investigation found that López’s mother had channeled $120,000 in corporate donations from PDVSA to Primero Justicia while she and López were at the firm, in violation of anti-corruption laws. López’s attorneys point out that Primero Justicia was a nonprofit at the time, not yet a party, and López never stood trial on the charges. But the comptroller general nevertheless barred López from holding office from 2008 until 2014.”

        The piece is incorrect or inaccurate in several respects :
        1. There never was a law that forbade any public entity from donating money to a third paty with family connections to an employee of the public entity . There was an internal Pdvsa corporate norm ( NOT A LAW) which required certain procedures to be followed before such kind of donations could be made .
        2. the norm was known as the conflict of interest norm and it sought to prevent someone inside the company with power to authorize a corporate donation to a third party to authorize a donation to a third party connected to himself or certain of his closest relatives . It never was an absolute prohibition , the donation could be made if the circumstances of the donation were checked by other corporate bodies inside the company and found to be legit or justified .
        3. Every year the board was presented with a plan of donations to different entities which the board then approved modified or rejected . Sometime in 1997 the board approved a Plan for Donations which included donations to PJ which then was a foundation dedicated to non political goals .
        4.- Because the donation was not being approved by LL’s mother nor by LL ( apparently working as an analyst at the time) but by the 10 members of the board of directors it violated no corporate norm .
        5. When the donation was documented the corporation instructed LL’s mother to sign the document on behalf of Pdvsa . Legally she had a duty to sign those documents which the corporation told her to .
        6.- The Corporate office appointed to act on behalf of the Comptrollers General Office routinely checked the different donations made throughout the previous years to verify that all formalities had been complied with . They investigated the donations and issued in 2001 a declaration that they had checked the PJ donation and found no impropriety in its award.
        7.- 7 years later when LL had become a political target for the regime they reopened all manner of investigations against him and others to see how they might embarras or otherwise hinder their political activities , this time they decided that what was done was improper and decreed LL’si inhabilitation from public office . By this time 10 years after the donations had been made the Pdvsa office had been officially declared to be ´roja rojita’ and thus had a motive to barr LL from becoming an oppo political candidate.

        I think the above facts were not adequately referred to in the piece by Mr Lovato thus giving a false impression of what had actually transpired. an impression which did not do justice to LL and his mother.

        My aim JC was to clarify the facts in the piece which referred to the Pdvsa donation in a way that allowed it to be read with the proper perspective.

    • BTW, Bill, you’re giving Leopoldo too much of a free pass on the Rodríguez Chacín arrest. What the heck was LL doing arresting RRCh outside of Chacao anyway? And since when do mayors arrest people? Can you imagine the outrage if Jorge Rodríguez went to Altamira with his Policaracas to arrest Maria Corina Machado?

      • I dont know that Chacin was being arrested or taken into protective custody or what , my impression was the latter from what I saw that day live on TV , there was an angry mob of people who had cornered Chacin into an apartment , they were very aggresive and i feared that if no one intervened he wa going to be attacked by this mob , then from what I remembered LL among others sort of took the situation in hand and brought Chacin out before he would get hurt , if they had shown too much simpathy the mob (which as said before was in a nasty mood ) was going for Chacin so they probably had to take a position that they were taking him before the law or something of the sort . I was actually relieved at the time that LL was there to protect Chacin from the mob that had gathered about his place of refuge. Im not looking at the after the fact legal aspects of the case but at my impressions when I saw the episode in TV.

        • Which is only one of the numerous, deliberate, vicious and biased twists of this putrid “Foreign Policy Piece”, as JCN labels it .

        • In a way, as BB says, they were protecting from the crazy people (as the ones in Cuban embassy). He was in an apartment belonging to Lopez Sisco, because he wanted to escape with , his now wife (well someone that lived in a neighborhood nearby, with her husband) And yes after that When the husband left I had the “pleasure”to see RC on daily basis…before he moved to his ranch… Yes Call me chepa

  7. “It’s accomplished in the sense that it’s thorough, and tries to present López from all points of view”.

    Woww.. if these are the opposition “supporters”, the anti-chavistas, who needs enemies..

    This is CLEARLY an deliberate attack on Lopez, from a heavily Biased, Chavista, leftist, populist point of view. Focused on criticizing the man in every possible sneaky way, while omitting every Chavista monstrous failure, every barbaric lie and constant deceit. It goes as far as praising the Chavista “overwhelming” triumphs, while speculating on everything it could on its target for infamy.

    “All points of view”… amazing. JCN.. If this is an “objective”, “unbiased”, complete report, as you clearly suggest, even an “accomplishment”, las vacas vuelan, Chavez es un heroe y maduro un genio.

    This is another reason why the MUD is fucked-up too. Even the alleged “intellectuals”, educated, anti-Dictatorship, anti-populism sometimes work for the Chavismo Disaster, without even knowing it.

    Makes you wonder what the objectives of this writer are, going as far as praising this piece of clearly Biased, vicious, Machiavellian Leftist propagandist CRAP.

      • Read what You wrote “It’s accomplished in the sense that it’s thorough, and tries to present López from all points of view. I think that was the goal of the writer, and I think he reached it. That is called an accomplishment in my book.”

        “All points of view”? ” Thorough”?

        Precisely the Opposite: Biased, oblique, twisted, few, selective points of view, speculative at best, NOT Thorough: One sided, incomplete picture, vicious defamation.

        “accomplished” for his vile, twisted, obscure, pernicious Interests? Sure! He certainly fools people like you!

        Man up, admit you got it completely wrong.

        100% of the comments so far attest to it.

  8. Coño, Juan, this is nothing but half-truisms and guilt by association – Classic Chavista propaganda.

    Spinning his support to youth leadership with a non-existing link to JAVU. Spinning his PDVSA credentials by de-contextualizing a case that has been fully debunked in international human rights courts. Spinning his Harvard training by ominously linking him to someone without evidence.

    On all the shadiness of the Apr2002 events, is this really the question that needs answering? Why was he at Rodriguez Chacin’s apartment? The guy was going to be lynched… But we allow the Chavista machine to take the conversation there and not here: http://www.brianandrewnelson.com/Silence_home.htm. Open questions about that date relate to Chávez, Carmona and the Military (where is Lucas Rincón an ambassador now?), not LL or HCR.

    The piece offers nothing else than fallacies to attack the character of his leadership. The guy’s by no means perfect, but this is ridiculous. Not one to play magnanimity, Juan.

  9. At the end of the article:

    Much will hinge on Leopoldo López’s credibility: whether the court of national opinion will continue to see López and his flank of the opposition as a serious new voice for democratic change or as a movement marked by unpopular strains of radicalism.

    As opposed to Chavismo, a popular strain of radicalism?
    It is a howler to paint some of the oppo as “radical,” given what has ruled Venezuela for the last 16 years.Yup, that radical Lopez, compared to that popular moderate Giordani, that popular moderate Maduro, trained in Cuba, and that moderate coupster Hugo Chavez- who hated coups so much that he made an annual celebration out of his failed coup[s]. Ya, ya ya. Ja ja ja. Ha ha ha.

  10. Here is one question we need to answer: Leopoldo has been in jail for the last year and a half, and has been treated very unfairly. And yet … his negatives remain way high. Why is that? Could it be … only government propaganda? Or is there something else there?

    • Massive Ignorance, Massive Under-education, Massive Polarization between the perceived “sifrino” from Harvard, and our Ignorant pueblo. And the Massive propaganda and twisted lies, like what you chose to post, doesn’t help.

      Remember, Cuba is beautiful, the Empire is waging galactic wars, and Chavez is still great, according to your popularity polls.

    • Government propaganda shapes the mind of millions, including of those who oppose said government.

      So, yeah, brainwashing.

    • JC: Do you have data on the negatives ??, his negatives among chavistas are easily the result of the govts efforts at demonizing those oppo leaders that bother them the most , but if there are negatives among the oppo , then maybe there IS something about his speech or actions or ideas or personality that rubs at least a part of the opposition the wrong way, that would be a valid topic of discussion , what is there in him that doesnt convince some in the opposition that he is an ideal leader ??

      I myself while admiring his bravery and bravado and his well honed organizational skills and his efforts at disseminating the oppo message among non traditional constituencies are not particularly smitten with the fellow , but then again there are different things that I like in each of the leaders and things which dont excite me that much , I am far from expecting perfection in ordinary or even extraordinary people , so im fairly tolerant of his or anyone elses failings . I find LL, HCR, MCM , Ledezma and quite a few other oppo leaders worthy of respect in their efforts , political vitues and motivation. They may have different strategic approaches to the troubling challenge of confronting the regime , but while I may favour one approach as more likely to work than others I think they are all respectable.

      Perhaps bringing the topic of LL’s virtues or flaws to the open via this evidently slanted FT article has made it more difficult to have a clean open discussion about the subject , but itscertainly a discussion worth having as you suggest !!

  11. I find it incredible that Juan Nagel dares to publish an element of the international propaganda mechanism of the dictatorship, and its either so naive or so blind as to call it: “An attempt at fairness”.

  12. I’m going ahead and say the obvious to “LL supported the 2002 coup”?

    Yeah, so?

    Is not like chavistas actually believe on democracy, and the country would not have lines for toilet paper if the coup had worked.

    • La historia la escriben los victoriosos.
      Por ahora, el chavismo mantiene el poder y escribe su historia, simple.

      Now, OpUno is right on the money, so what?

      Supporting the opposition, the insurgence, the resistance to this regime needs to become less of a taboo, if there is any change of taking the reigns of power away from these criminals.

  13. Que bolas tiene Juan Nagel! To call this a valid analysis of the Leopoldo case. This is hatchet job of the worst kind, an undignified piece for Foreign Policy, which should have done a better job of checking the facts.

    I am preparing an answer to this paid job which runs totally contrary to public opinion, both in Venezuela and abroad. I think FP made a horrible mistake. I hope it was a mistake and not something worse,
    Gustavo

    • No, this is not a mistake. It’s near the truth but does not go far enough in condemning Lopez’s filthy undenocratic actions and his theft of millions of dollars from the CVhacao Budget.

      In addition, he instigated the guarimbas that took 43 lives and should receive LONG jail time for this.

      • Hello again, beto / dpusvr / any other troll nickname you’re using by now.
        Keep squirming and suffering, it’s funny to see you bashing some innocent person just because you got brainwashed like a lamb into hating him.

      • There you have it: the middle point between “López-is-a-saint” and the crazy chavista rhetoric shown above is something closer to the FP article than many of you care to admit.

        • There you have it: the middle point between “López-is-a-saint” and the crazy chavista rhetoric shown above is something closer to the FP article than many of you care to admit.

          Then please inform us how Lovato’s narrative of the events of April 2 would differ from Arturo’s. I suspect the only difference would be that Lovato’s narrative would be better constructed. Both would claim that Chavsez never resigned.

          Pray tell, JC, where on the continuum between “López-is-a-saint” and “crazy chavista rhetoric” do you find the following statement from the article?

          Of course, Chávez never did resign. He was arrested instead.

          Moreover, do you find the above statement to be: biased or a lie? In your own words on the article:

          Biased, yes. Misleading, perhaps. Liars? Not sure.

          Inquiring minds want to know.

          • Lovato is right: Chávez did not resign, no matter what Lucas Rincón says. I don’t buy the “Vacío de poder” thesis, and I think it’s done us a ton of harm, which is exactly Lovato’s point.

          • “Lovato is right: Chávez did not resign, no matter what Lucas Rincón says. ”
            It’s obvious that LR was asked to recoil about the “La cual aceptó” thing, which earned him a juicy reward which included an embassy and most importantly, being spared from the corpse’s revenge that came later, of course he’s going to claim until the grave that the corpse never resigned and that he blatantly lied as a part of a “counter intelligence maneuver”.

            “I don’t buy the “Vacío de poder” thesis, and I think it’s done us a ton of harm, which is exactly Lovato’s point.”
            Because what that inkspewer wants to do is to stick to the ridiculous chavista dogma of the coup, because that way, they can continue satanizing EVERY SINGLE manifestation and protest that displeases them, and respond with guns, cabillas and more bullets to the face.

            April 11 begun as a huge ass bailoterapia, which scared the corpse into running once he realized the GN wasn’t willing to “caracazo” them as he ordered, then he sent the paramilitar choros richard peñalver and company from the death circles, shit hits the fan big time, and the generals catch the corpse on the back door of chimpanflores.

            Accepting the “coup dogma” will instantly mean giving reason and justifying all, ALL the abuses and atrocities they made later, because they were done “to protect the motherland from the fascist, racist, sifrino fags that don’t deserve ore than a bullet in the head”, which is basically harming us to the point of total obliteration.

        • “López-is-a-saint”

          I’m not saying he’s a saint, I’m just saying he is innocent from the crazy bullshit accusations chaburros keep flinging around, because it’s truth, there’s nothing abnormal about it.

          It’s the same case as perico silva suddenly had an hemorrhoid itch and accused you with any standard chaburro made-up accusation, the ones claiming for your innocence aren’t saying that you are a saint, they’re just saying the truth, that you didn’t do that, and that perico silva’s trying to frame you just because he’s an asshole.

          If you’re going to accuse someone for something, at least don’t start making up stuff out of thin air, which is all what chaburros do.

          Bashing on someone and say they’re shit isn’t a “balanced view point”, it’s just bashing and saying shit about someone.

  14. There are so many half truths and outright lies in that piece, Juan.

    You, or somebody, should write a rebuttal piece and de-construct lie by lie and get it published in FP.

    Lovato couches many untruths among some of the truth, so many that that article is really nothing more than a hatchet job dressed up as a piece of serious reporting.

    A pig, even dressed in silk is still a pig.

    • Well done, Fausta!

      Lovato slyly incorporates so many oblique put-downs in his funded piece that it needs a sentence-by-sentence review to find the author’s true tone and political affiliations. You have acutely identified several of those put-downs which don’t come even close to providing an objective picture of LL.

      The description of Lilian Tintori is particularly vile in its weighted presentation of frivolity, this sentence being one example: “Vibrant in a bright orange windbreaker, with her flawless smile and long blonde hair, Tintori’s strengths as standard-bearer for her jailed husband’s message were on full display.”

      • The description of Lilian Tintori is particularly vile in its weighted presentation of frivolity, this sentence being one example: “Vibrant in a bright orange windbreaker, with her flawless smile and long blonde hair, Tintori’s strengths as standard-bearer for her jailed husband’s message were on full display.”

        Okay, that part is mean. It is certainly not sympathetic to López or Lilian. But let’s face it, Lilian’s public persona is very carefully put together. She is also a strong standard-bearer for Leopoldo. I don’t think it goes so far as to mischaracterize Lilian, it’s simply looking at her through a skewed lens while preserving a modicum of truth.

        • It is certainly not sympathetic to López or Lilian. But let’s face it, Lilian’s public persona is very carefully put together. She is also a strong standard-bearer for Leopoldo. I don’t think it goes so far as to mischaracterize Lilian, it’s simply looking at her through a skewed lens while preserving a modicum of truth.

          Jeez, Juan. Your blinders are on full strength if you don’t realize that most people in the public arena have an image that’s carefully put together. That’s motherhood.

          And if you think a skewed lens preserves a modicum of truth, then, let’s see …. How about we focus on Katy’s wardrobe, first, before informing others that she helps support you. Or how about if we firsti focus on your lack of good posture when you interview MCM on her economic platform, and that your beige trousers are so fetching. Truisms both, but irrelevant, and in fact, BITCHY. Which leads me to the thought that Lovato did not write this piece alone. Unless, as a man, he has an innate interest in women’s clothing and appearances.

          I’m sure that by now you have the sense that I generally don’t lean heavily into one camp or another, politically or otherwise, preferring to weigh the positives and negatives in any given situation. It’s the latter analysis that allows me to suss out where the wind blows. And that wind is blowing some carefully manicured shit.

          • “Fetching in soft beige trousers, with his firm jaw supported by a left fist, and his short dark-blond hair combed back, Nagel’s strengths as an economics journalist for the blog Caracas Chronicles were on full display.”

            Get it, por fin?

          • You forgot, syd, “Surprisingly blonde (or catire as the Venezuelan term goes) for a Maracucho, and yet he handles the vos and sos like a pro.”

            Ha ha

          • Good one. Let’s try that again:

            “Fetching in soft beige trousers, with his firm jaw supported by a left fist, and surprisingly blonde for a Maracucho, Nagel’s strengths as an economics journalist for the blog Caracas Chronicles were on full display.”

          • OK, I get your point. And thanks for making me chuckle. I guess my answer would be to say that, yes, I identified the not-so-subtle sexist jab at Lilian, but I wasn’t entirely disguted about it because it could have been much worse, and because it was fair enough to commend her for her strong defense of her husband.

            As I’ve said, the guy is a chavista and he’s looking at Leopoldo from a chavista angle. But the propaganda was downplayed just enough for me to appreciate what he was trying to say. Quizás me agarró en un día en que no tenía la bilis alborotada, qué se yo.

  15. I, quoted and referred to at various points in Lovato’s piece, tweeted as follows:

    @pburelli Best part of @robvato hatchet job in @ForeignPolicy is that it reads like a hatchet job. + He took 1 yr to write.

    This last factoid I know because he reached out to me in June of 2014 and told me he was under a tight deadline for a piece on LL. Have no idea what took him so long!

    Since publication, I have told Lovato that he failed to report on the ruling of the InterAmerican Court on Human Rights. LL won a case in which the Government was duly represented and as a result of the verdict the Gov. of the BRV opted to exit the InterAmerican HR system. Sore losers? This fact would have been quiet useful to the readers of a magazine like FP. The same goes for the ruling of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. Anyone reading these would conclude that the Gov. of the BRV is in brazen violation of all the Human Rights treaties it is a signatory of. This is VERY RELEVANT and QUIET RADICAL behavior for a government that insists on its bona fide democratic and human-rights-respecting credentials. Pity Lovato missed this…

    With regards to my relation with LL almost all of what Lovato writes is correct, BUT he tries to give the impression that LL joining PDVSA as an Analyst (working for Ramon Espinasa) had something to do with me and that is totally false. When I was designated as a Board Member, in April of 1996, LL was already working there. As to the grant (not loan Juan) to Primero Justicia, the NGO focused on expanding the presence and use of Justices of Peace in popular sectors of Venezuela, this – non political – effort was right up the alley of the other donations that PDVSA, as the country’s largest corporation, made as part of its CSR activities. Bill Blass is correct about the complex series of steps to approve these grants. Nobody on their own could do this. And BTW, the money was received by Julio Borges, who finally owed up to this in an article in El Universal: http://m.eluniversal.com/opinion/130312/la-verdad-sobre-el-caso-pdvsa (Lovato obviously did not find this article in a year of researching this piece).

    The obsession with the 2002 events is a give away here. The episode has been dissected right and left, North and South. But what never seems to go away are the red lies: 1. Chavez never resigned…go at ask Ambassador Gral. Lucas Rincon why he informed the country otherwise, 2. 400 people signed a decree…NO, there was no such a mass signing, there was an attendance sheet that was passed around, 3. Street protest brought Chavez back…have any of you heard that the 400+people that were in Miraflores for Carmona’s farcical self-swearing were harassed on the way in or out of a presidential palace that is nested well inside ‘chavista’ territory in western Caracas. April 11-14, 2002 still holds some nasty mysteries (from both sides), but they are not these that have become the ABC of most ‘progressive’ writers (myth weavers).

    Finally, Lovato uses the government’s highly discredited accusation against a number of us in what is now known as the ‘minicidio’ fiasco. A government that is willing to line up its Top 10 officials to accuse its open opponents of plotting to kill Maduro and uses fake emails to ‘proof’ their case must count itself lucky to have people who still are willing to call its opponents radicals. This is what I will call criminals with friends, or friends of criminals. The motivations and/or incentives behind appearing so focused on certain facts and being so forgetful of others are beyond the scope of this comment.

    • Pedro, thanks for the comment, and my apologies for characterizing the PDVSA grant to PJ as a loan.

      All I’m saying is that these issues need to be debated, and that too often we use López’s tragic personal situation as an excuse not to look at our leaders. For far too long we’ve decided that “vetting” is synonymous with “cooperating with the government,” and I think that’s wrong.

      True, this is far from an objective, realistic vetting, and I say that in the article. But I don’t think this is a hatchet propaganda piece. The writer is skewed, but I sensed that he tried to include all points of view – an example of this is the paragraph on the unfair accusations against you, and the evidence you put forth regarding the emails.

      Ultimately, what I rescue from the piece is that it is a rare attempt to show *both* sides. It does so in a biased way, but at least it does so. This is not something you typically find, and it has become an extremely rare thing in our public sphere.

      At any rate, it’s pretty clear that I’m alone in finding the article as a somewhat-shabby-yet-still-passable attempt at a middle ground on Leopoldo. Maybe you all are right, and this is a hack job. Or maybe we just have a difference in opinion. Maybe my years of reading *actual* propaganda hack jobs have lowered my standards.

      • “…and my apologies for characterizing the PDVSA grant to PJ as a loan.”

        No one could blame you for that one, because that’s the version that hegemon corp has been frantically drilling on people’s heads during years.

    • Have no idea what took him so long!

      After carefully selecting a pair of lightly-framed designer eyeglasses to convey just the right note that says: I’m-a-sensitive-socialist-and-earnest-journalist, Roberto Lovato spent 10 months interning at Women’s Wear Daily. There, he learned about facial-feature nuances, wardrobe styles, fabric colors, and hair styles. He figured the training would come in handy for the crypto-skewering of opposition members in Venezuela, never mind the Pedro Carregnesque displays that overtly betray that soupçon of appearance over substance.

  16. “The motivations and/or incentives behind appearing so focused on certain facts and being so forgetful of others are beyond the scope of this comment”.

    Wild guess, $$$ ??

    This deliberate attempt at butchering the “Radical” Leopoldo Lopez and hurting the opposition, must have been financed. Some Leftist and or Chavista group must have paid Lovato. Simple as that.

    Now who is paying this Roberto Lovato clown is the question. He is clearly a journalistic mercenary, a hired pen, who writes for everyone and anyone, mostly leftist crap, from Al-Jazeera to the NYT.

    It seems clear that for the right price this Lovato dude would write a “piece” for the Castros or even praising North Korea.

    “According to the FT text the piece was funded sponsored by the Puffin Foundation a NY institution dedicated to “opening the doors of artistic expression by providing grants to artists and art organizations who are often excluded from mainstream opportunities due to their race, gender, or social philosophy.” , it also sponsors the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Association ( the brigade was made up mostly of communist americans ..”

    And who is bribing the Puffin Foundation to bribe Roberto Lovato, Delcy Rodriguez, the Rangel Angels or the sold-out, filthy Cadena Capriles Mafia?

    It has been extensively demonstrated that these “journalists” and entire publications like El Universal can easily be bought out. Lovato’s price was probably quite affordable.

    • Now who is paying this Roberto Lovato clown is the question. He is clearly a journalistic mercenary, a hired pen, who writes for everyone and anyone, mostly leftist crap, from Al-Jazeera to the NYT.

      Yes, Lovato will write for those who pay him, but he is not a “mercenary” in the sense that he will change his point of view according to who pays him. Lovato is a True Believer of the Left, a PSF incarnate.

    • A reply might be that if you wanted to make a contribution to PSUV, you would prefer to make it directly, instead of funneling your contribution through Foreign Policy.

  17. So, as an afterthought to this post and the passionate comments section, I’ll have you know that I have heard directly from Leopoldo’s inner circle (from his *really* inner circle) and they are disappointed in me.

    I’m more than mortified about this, but I still need to process it. Back to my corner now.

    • It takes a real adult to admit the error of his ways and to take steps to avoid them.

      To err is human, to forgive, divine.

      No one should doubt that you are committed to a better Venezuela, to giving a voice to dissenting opinions that are silenced by those in power.

      No one should imagine you give quarter or solace to anyone that favors the abomination that is Chavismo.

      Your labor of love with this blog is admirable, even more when it is done without the promise of coin or power for your writings and your work.

      If we had more Juan Nagels, the world would be a better place.

      Y no, no le voy a dar un hijo, Coño!

    • Take guts to admit one’s public mistakes, which you really have not done yet.

      Man up. What you wrote on this post was beyond ridiculous and untrue.
      And you even tried to defend your own crap, against everyone, “all points of view”, and such.

      110% of the commentators have let you know, rather kindly, that you were dead wrong.
      We can all be wrong at times, even this wrong.

      Admit it, and move on.

  18. How about this perlita on the interview quoted by FP: “Being away from home created an awakening of the responsibility I have towards the people of my country. I belong to one percent of the privileged people, and achieving a good education will hopefully enable me to do something to help my country.”
    Well, this was back in 1989, and this was Leopoldo´s father talking. At the time Leopoldo Lopez Sr was the head of Fundayacucho. I remember Mr. Lopez saying that he preferred giving out scholarships to the children of the privileged and not to the needy, because it was up to the privileged to lead the country in the future.

    • In a sense, he was absolutely right: that it’s up to the Elite or Privileged to lead any country.

      Or it should be.

      Under-educated ignorant Indians cannot govern the rest of the tribe.
      The best, smartest, most educated, or “Elite” should be the top politicians,
      (hopefully in a Republican type of check&balances democracy).

      For many, many reasons.

      What happens when the average Pueblo gets to “lead the country”?

      Look at Kleptozuela and their Chavez’s and Bus Drivers.
      Look at Nicaragua or the Ecuador Pueblo Thugs, or Bolivia’s cacique (although he’s just another tonto util, behind Alvaro Garcia Linera)

      Sometimes “democracy” really works and the under-educated people elect one of their own.
      Careful what you wish for.

      • I agree with you in the sense that the educated elite should lead, not the money elite. From my own experience, I can tell you that Mr. Lopez didn’t care much about school credentials when handing out scholarships.

        • The masses never rule , always people in power constitute a tiny minority , thats the esence of power , the inescapable social reality of power , they can rule with the support of large masses of people or with the rejection of large masses of people , but its always if not an elite a circunscribed group of inter connected people . Elite has the connotation of people that are better than others because of their education in part but more realistically because of being able to show that they can DO more than other people . Competence and merit are the key qualities , whether its in public service or working in a corporation , Going to school does not give you Expertise and its expertise what counts and that comes from work , from being able to produce results that can be appreciated by applying the recognized canons of civilized society . I am very suspect of academics , the guys with a lot of education but not necessarily the talent to produce results in complex situations , its not only your knowledge but your character and your acquired experience that which marks the member of a true elite. In short competence is not taught at universities but at work , And elites are built and developed through filters and tests that rigurously demonstrante who is best . They can be poor but they can also be rich and in a meritocracy the only thing that counts is having the abilty and competence , the expertise to produce certain results.

      • “What happens when the average Pueblo gets to “lead the country”? ”

        You should have said “what happens when CRIMINALS get to lead the country?”

        chaburrismo’s bosses weren’t neither poor nor uneducated by a long shot, they all came from upper middle class or richer families, and most of them had several university degrees.

        chaburrismo isn’t the regime of the stupid, it’s the regime of crime.

  19. Lovato is certainly no impartial journalist , look for his April 1st 2014 article in The Nation entitled “Why the media are giving a free pass to Venezuelas neo fascist creeps” , where he attempts to savage and malign Venezuelan oppo using as a pretext an interview to recently deceased Luis Britto Garcia , There are other articles where he paints the oppo in the most denigrative terms possible emphasizing the purportedly conspiratorial behavour of the oppo press and the wealthy origin of last years students protesters , he also makes much of how the gurimbas murdered innocent people who supported the regime .

    He is a veteran journalist and dedicated activist on many causes in defense of inmigrants and latinos in the US. The kind that seeks personal salvation by adopting the role of noble avenger of societies victims. Tht may have helped him offer writing credentials which presented him to FT as a ‘decent radical’ journalist rather than as a poisoned fanatized pen .

    No way could this man write a balanced article on Venezuela , he is as prejudiced as the most fanatized Chavista.

  20. It is mediocre to base the need for debate based on this article. I truly believe that Juan doesn’t sympathise with Leopoldo’s point of view; and, as it happens in politics he is hiding behind this article that it indeed resonated with him. It confirmed his suspicions, without any consideration for what the country, and Leopoldo is going through. Because there’s an undeniable fact: the guy has the skin in the game, and that deserves respect.

    I am going to be counterfactual and provocative here: what if the PR agency that contacted FP was hired by Enrique Capriles? Or Juan? It reads as Chavista, and it helps to undermine Leopoldo’s international reputation.

    Actually, the article emphasises the fact that Capriles is moderate. It also bases much of it arguments on the pollster Luis Vicente Leon, who happens to disagree with Leopoldo’s action and many times in his articles has described him scornfully as the radical one.

    But what is at the bottom of all this is the Venezuelan cynicism. The same could have been said of Churchil when he was the only one shouting and being the radical. As it happens in history, we become aware of how bad things when in it is to late.

    • No Alejandro thats for sure not it , look for and read his other articles on Venezuela , he despises and loaths all the opposition in part because of their real or purported social origin , he is the kind of guy who is always looking for some people to demonize and some to morally glamorize to feed his engorged moral conceits , He has a pedigree you can easily detect for being a rabid chavista , maybe he writes better than most gringo pendejos and does better research but he is definitely not someone who would view HCR with any degree of sympathy.

      • I am just being counterfactual. I don’t think that Capriles will do that (by the way I forgot to mention that he was in Washington recently, and someone saw him entering the offices of FP). Just trying to prove how easy is to come up with a narrative that is as credible as any other. Amidst the circumstances cynicism can cause a lot of harm and is far from being constructive.

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