Sunday, 30 December 2012

Rory Carroll and the Comandante

Rory Carroll, a journalist from The Guardian, came to Venezuela in 2006. He had been working in Iraq for some time until he got kidnapped by Shiah militiamen. Before Iraq he was correspondent in several European countries, in the Middle East, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan and for many years in Africa. He probably thought Venezuela would be easier to report about. He was in for some surprises. He had just come to the region where the myth of El Dorado was born.

Shortly after his arrival, Rory went to an Aló Presidente, one of those shows where Chávez would be talking for hours and hours. Unexpectedly, Rory became the centre of attention on national TV for an hour or so: Chávez wanted a question from him. Rory asked what he thought was a simple question and he got a hell of a Chávez answer.
A different view on Venezuela

Quite a lot of people, whether left or right, have no interest whatsoever in learning about how things are in a given place but how things fit in their scheme of ideas. The Guardian is a left newspaper or rather tends to be on the left and thus there were quite some readers shocked by what Rory was reporting. But criticism also came from the right - a lot. Rory had to deal with the great challenge of explaining Venezuela in the times of Chávez. On one side there are the right-winged fundamentalists or just embittered Chávez haters. On the other side there is the legio-n of people who wanted by all means to see Chávez as the saviour that would finally come from the oppressed nations. 

One of the most difficult parts about explaining Venezuela is that you do have to explain a lot of economic stuff and most people do not give a damn about that. Most people, in fact, have a very short attention span, specially in politics. I believe he did an excellent job. He went to places all around Venezuela. He listened to both sides. To all sides. He analysed lots of material, including stuff most journalists don't want to deal with. This year Rory moved to the States to report mostly but not exclusively about our gringo neighbours. 

Fortunately, he has just written a book about Venezuela under Chávez. The book will come out of press next March. If you want to have a better understanding of what Venezuela has been about, go for it.


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