Wednesday, July 4, 2012

How Slanders Start

Piedad stands by her man. 

The other day, Colombia's leftist ex-senator Piedad Cordoba gave an interview in which she charged that Venezuelan opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles had recieved aid from Venezuelan businesses in Colombia and from Colombian ex-President Alvaro Uribe.

All of which sounds very believable. Venezuelan businesses, whereever they may be, certainly have a right to support the Venezuelan presidential candidate of their choice, and that's not likely to be the leftist Chavez. Uribe's politics are just as predictable - his hate for Chavez verges on paranoia. But I'd bet that any support from Uribe would cost Capriles more votes than it would get him. 

Cordoba apparentely offered no evidence or examples to back her claims. But that didn't stop her interview from generating sensationalist headlines. Ultimas Noticias, which I remember as a generally balanced Caracas newspaper, headlined its story: 'Cordoba Asserts that Capriles is Advised by Narcos,' and reported that Capriles was 'advised by businesses related to narcoparmilitarism in Colombia.

But I've read about a dozen news stories about Cordoba's comments - most of them, admittedly, copies of Ultmas Noticias' story - and found not a single quote from Cordoba actually making this assertion. (I can't find the original video at all).

Yes, ex-Pres. Uribe has been credibly linked to paramilitaries, and he has consulted with Venezuela's anti-Chavez opposition. And Venezuelan businesses in Colombia (where many have come fleeing Chavez's policies) most likely support Capriles. But this doesn't add up to Capriles being advised by narcoparamilitaries. And, in any case, Cordoba apparently didn't even say this.

But the headline's there, anyway, and will come up in Google searches forever. 

It reminds me of responses I got to a blog post about Wikileaks founder Julian Assange's seeking asylum in Ecuador, whose government has been no friend of free speech. One critical commentator claimed that the Swedish women who have accused Assange of sexual crimes of 'having connections to the U.S. CIA.', again offering no evidence. When I asked for evidence, a commentator pointed me to some Internet pages saying that the women had written articles critical of the Cuban government on websites or other publications supposedly supported by the CIA. Those publications may or may not actually be backed by the CIA, but that's beside the point.

There are plenty of reasons to criticize the repressive Cuban dictatorship, and doing so doesn't make you a CIA tool - even if you do it, probably unknowingly - on a CIA-backed website.

Returning to Colombian ex-Sen. Cordoba, who can't seem to resist defending everything the Chavez government does: The Venezuelan government appears to have gotten caught red-handed meddling in another government's internal affairs with a video showing Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolás Maduro meeting privately with a group of Paraguaya's top generals just before that nation's parliament tried and convicted its leftist Pres. Fernando Lugo and replaced him with the country's vice president. Officials in Paraguay's new government allege that Maduro was urging the generals to rise up and block the parliament's action. Whatever the legality of the Parguayan parliament's dubious ousting of Lugo, one country's foreign minister's meeting with another's generals in the midst of a crisis seems even less acceptable.

But Cordoba had no doubts about Maduro's actions, and called the accusations against him "anecdotes." Maduro "represents a new form of diplomacy," she said, adding: "I am absolutely convinced that this doesn't involve the most minimal interference in another country."

Perhaps Cordoba should bcome Venezuela's media spokeswoman.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

No comments: