Things you learn from watching Globovisión at high altitude

Last weekend, my family and I rented a cabin high in the Andes to get away from it all. What the picture from the brochure didn’t show was that the cabin had a satellite dish, so one of the channels on offer was Globovisión.

So much for getting away from it all. I hadn’t watched Globo in ages, so I decided to take in their coverage of Saturday’s 26×26 walk-a-thon.

The enthusiastic, racially diverse crowd was impressive. Globo’s broadcast was not.

For starters, the march got non-stop, wall-to-wall coverage all afternoon. All they did was show the crowds all the time, which is great if you’re a Rosales supporter like me. But what’s a NiNi to think? That Globovisión is spoon-feeding them their chosen candidate. What a turn-off.

From the studio, Alba Cecilia Mujica kept referring to Rosales, mantra-like, as “the national unity candidate, Manuel Rosales…” with a smile as wide as the Cheshire Cat’s. Poor Alba Cecilia, you got the sense that covering this march is the most fun she’s had in years. She really should get out more.

And while she’s at it, she should try and be just a tiny bit more professional. I mean, when you use political catch-phrases like “the candidate of national unity,” you play right into the hands of chavistas who allege outrageous media bias on the part of private TV stations. What is Globovisión up to? I thought. Is it that desperate for a whipping? Do they think they do us a favor by being so blatantly pro-Rosales?

I tried to picture a Fox News anchor talking about George Bush as “reformer with results George W. Bush”, or “compassionate conservative President George W. Bush…” Not likely…even Fox News shows some restraint when whooping it up for their guy.

Hour after hour, it just kept getting worse.

“Ma’am, what’s your name, what do you think of this march?” one reporter kept asking.

“My name is Beatríz, Beatríz Martínez, I walked from La Castellana, and I’m here because I’m happy, because we are finally going to get rid of this totalitarian, authoritarian regime!” Whoa. So much for fear. The only thing missing from her statement was her cédula number and the name of the woman who does her toe nails, but you can probably find that in the Maisanta list under Martínez, Beatríz, La Castellana.

“Sir, what’s your name, what do you think of this march?”

A 65-year old man who had obviously walked a lot – God bless him, I can barely make it to the bathroom some days and I’m half his age – answered “My name is Luis Méndez, and I’m happy because this march is the biggest since April 11th!” Oh great, just what we need, more references to April 11th. Keep that up and NiNis will be lining up en masse on Dec. 3rd…to vote for Chávez!

“Ma’am, what’s your name, what do you think of this march?”

“My name is Sofía Pérez, I’m marching from Chacaíto and I’m really happy because the march is very organized.” Uh huh. Wait, how much “organization” does a march actually require? It’s hundreds of thousands of people walking from one end of the city to the other. Cops just have to stop traffic, street vendors do the rest. Oh well, I guess just making it home alive is a sign that it was a good march. Lots of marchers agreed, “excellent, very well organized.” Opposition unity indeed!

A dozen or so of these interviews left me pining for a commercial break. Eventually, it came.

An ad for Rosales, “Atrevete te te”, with a woman taking money out of an ATM using Mi Negra. In fact, all the ads I happened to catch were about Mi Negra. Funny how Rosales decided to focus his campaign on the issue Chávez is least vulnerable on, social policy. Wait, what were Rosales’s proposals on crime and jobs, the two issues that all voters care about the most and rate the government’s performance worst? Easy to forget…

Then it was back to the march. A shot of a very, very sweaty Rosales with an even sweatier Carlos Ocaríz, making their way through a crowd somewhere in Petare. He tried to give a speech but Globovisión didn’t have the sound and their camera was blocked by a string of plastic flags. Amateur hour at the OK Corral…

Oh well. Maybe they’ll show some políticos. Here comes one… it’s… it’s… it’s Antonio Ledezma! Ugh. The man is like a vapid drivel factory. I really can’t recall the last time I heard him say anything smart, a fresh thought, a non-cliche. Does he even have a job? How does he support himself? Politicians…

Next up, the ineffable Liliana Hernández, or Ledezma with a wig. A VTV reporter had been asking her tough questions at the beginning of the march, and she was quite rude to him, telling him that “my taxes paid for your salary.” Wait, Liliana, isn’t that what we want, journalists who ask politicians tough questions? Why so prickly?

I mean, I hate VTV as much as the next gal, but do you have to be so rude, so intolerant, so… chavista? The guy was simply doing his job, the fact that VTV reporters don’t do it when questioning chavistas is another issue. Why not take advantage of the opportunity to show that we are different, that we can handle the tough questions? I thought Rosales did that brilliantly the other day. But that’s just beyond her. On second thought, Liliana is Iris Varela with a better hairdo.

More people from the march. The Chairman of the Teacher’s Federation (who apparently didn’t get the “fear” memo), an old man who kept harping on our poor reporter on the street, telling her that “Rosales was going to save Venezuela for beautiful women like yourself,” a poor guajira woman originally from Municipio Mara who was now living in Caracas. And all through, Globo kept up the same tone of breathless, misplaced boosterism. It was kind of sad.

I had to turn it off. The march was impressive, the enthusiasm of the people contagious. But Globovisión is shameful. This march did not merit uninterrupted coverage, and it sure as hell did not merit uninterrupted conter-productive inanity. Instead of asking marchers smart questions, it was like watching somebody else’s vacation video. “This is me in El Escorial… this is Juanita at the Eiffel Tower, remember Juanita? That was so funny when you…”

Hours and hours of coverage geared to one type of voter only: the convinced Rosalista who is afraid of losing hope.

Fear itself
Why this tone? I think the answer comes down to fear. The fear of fear makes us fall into artificial highs, and it makes us lash out at unsuspecting passers-by.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the reactions to Quico’s recent posts, and about the ones I am sure to get to this one, and I’ve concluded that part of our problem is that we fear Chávez.

When we turn away from people who are saying something we don’t want to hear, when we say that we need a kleenex handy to read a discouraging poll, when we build up our hope on the basis of something as hard to gauge as a march, when we accuse people of being chavistas if they express the possibility that the country may, perhaps, actually be about to vote for Chavez, we are simply acting out on fear.

Chávez knows we fear him. That’s why his speech is so hateful, so full of incitement. He works to ignite our fear and makes us appear… well, fearful, or to use another word, squalid. It’s a show put on for the benefit of poor voters who get a kick out of watching us tremble. It’s like their own little French Revolution is playing inside their head; Chávez’s tongue playing the part of guillotine.

For all his authoritarianism, his corruption and his incapacity, for all the hate that spews out of his jeta, I don’t fear Chávez. If the country does indeed have a chavista majority, so be it. I don’t need my values confirmed by a majority of Venezuelans. I know I’m right to oppose this thug, I know what he’s doing is deeply wrong and dangerous, and 6, 8 or 10 million people will not change my mind.

Democracies are like that, sometimes a majority of people make mistakes for the best of reasons. For the best of reasons, a majority of gringos gave the presidency to a bumbling oligophrenic like George W. Bush, and for the best of reasons they just handed the House of Representatives to a dim-witted snob like Nancy Pelosi yesterday. Does that make them right? Probably not.

Me? I’m in this for the long-haul. I’ll be working for Rosales from now until the election. But if Chávez wins another term, we’ll have other chances, there will be other battles. We have to be careful and watch his every move, but we must remember that he has absolute power now, and if re-elected, he will continue having absolute power. Democracy will continue circling the drain, as Quico says.

I know I will live to see the end of this, and the end will probably not be pretty given how emotionally invested his supporters are in Chavez. I’m not scared of his stupid referendum proposing the end of term limits. Bring it on! It will be that much sweeter when, finally, be it in 2010, 2012 or 2021, we defeat chavismo by defeating the man himself.