Losing the spin war

My immediate reaction after today’s “pictures” and revelations, in Foreign Policy’s Transitions blog. Whether it’s Chávez’s health or the economy, it seems the only “proof” we have is that the government’s messaging is just as bad as its handling of the economy. An excerpt:

The government doesn’t answer questions from an independent press, and this spares them the trouble of fielding obvious questions. Any independent journalist would have questioned the logic of denouncing currency exchanges while keeping them in place for years. They would have probably pointed out that exporters of “non-traditional” items need to ask permission from the government to export. They would have asked about the things that people are saying on chavista websites, which have assailed a move many of them consider “neoliberal,” particularly after the IMF went out of its way to praise the Venezuelan government for devaluing.

Today the government startled everyone by admitting that the president was having trouble speaking due to a tracheal tube. The revelation, accompanied by pictures of a smiling Chávez and his two daughters (with the tracheal tube safely out of sight), came a few days after the publication of a story by Spanish daily ABC reporting that, indeed, Chávez could no longer speak, a story the government promptly dismissed. And Chávez’s son-in-law, in a rare slip, said that Chávez was receiving “palliative care,” a term frequently used for end-of-life care.

The lack of message discipline is even affecting the Cuban government. After Fidel Castro himself, in a rare public appearance, sounded bullish about Chávez’s prospects for recovery, the Cuban government made an effort to tone down expectations and even tried to modify the transcript of Castro’s words to the press.

As the government contradicts itself on issue after issue, it takes high-level parsing to understand what is going on behind the scenes. This only heightens the sensation among many Venezuelans that, as their leader fights for his life, the nation is adrift.

52 thoughts on “Losing the spin war

  1. Do they think we are stupid. A Tracheostomy covered by a T Shirt and a jacket. Reading without glasses. No oxygen, no nebulizer. No weight loss after 63 days in bed.

    • And certainly no sound or consistent policy. Let alone communications.

      When the great leader ceases to talk, the thunderous silence speaks volumes.

  2. The photo that FP chose speaks volumes. Marx once said: religion is the opiate of the masses. Evidently, he did not know the power behind political iconography, in this case, a photograph providing Chávez’ proof of life.

  3. So “having difficulty speaking” means that you can’t speak?

    I know English is not your first language, Juan, so you are forgiven.

          • Chavez “walking, joking, giving orders, taking exercise,” the repeated implications that Chavez will return and Chavez’s repeated claims he was cured.

          • What lie are you referring to?
            ——————————————————————————————————–

            An excellent question.
            Which lie are you referring to?

              • Which lie? To quote myself: “Chavez ‘walking, joking, giving orders, taking exercise,’ the repeated implications that Chavez will return and Chavez’s repeated claims he was cured.”

                I guess the reality of the Chaverment willfully lying to you for the last year is too hard to face, so you will continue in denial. Do you actually believe doctors ever told him he was cured? Do you really think he was walking or taking exercise as claimed since the surgery? Or do you not even consider these statements, instead using doublethink to avoid even considering these uncomfortable realities.

      • You are grasping at straws on this one,
        Arreaza ha his interview in Spanish, so using your same source:
        Definiciones de cuidados paliativos

        Definición de la Sociedad Europea de Cuidados Paliativos

        “Los cuidados paliativos son aquellas atenciones que se dan a un paciente con una enfermedad potencialmente mortal, en fase avanzada y al que no afectan los tratamientos curativos.

        Definición del Instituto Nacional del Cáncer (National Cancer Institute) de los Estados Unidos

        “El cuidado paliativo es la atención que se brinda para mejorar la calidad de vida de los pacientes de una enfermedad grave o potencialmente mortal. La meta del cuidado paliativo es prevenir o tratar lo más rápidamente posible los síntomas de una enfermedad, los efectos secundarios del tratamiento de una enfermedad y los problemas psicológicos, sociales y espirituales relacionados con una enfermedad o su tratamiento. También se llama cuidado de alivio, cuidado médico de apoyo, y tratamiento de los síntomas.”2
        “Los cuidados paliativos son un concepto de la atención al paciente que incluye a profesionales de la salud y a voluntarios que proporcionan apoyo médico, psicológico y espiritual a enfermos terminales y a sus seres queridos. Los cuidados paliativos ponen el énfasis en la calidad de vida, es decir, en la paz, la comodidad y la dignidad. Una de las metas principales de los cuidados paliativos es el control del dolor y de otros síntomas para que el paciente pueda permanecer lo más alerta y cómodo posible. Los servicios de cuidados paliativos están disponibles para personas que ya no pueden beneficiarse de los tratamientos curativos; el paciente típico de cuidados paliativos tiene un pronóstico de vida de 6 meses o menos. Los programas de cuidados paliativos proporcionan servicios en varias situaciones: en el hogar, en centros de cuidados paliativos, en hospitales o en establecimientos capacitados para asistir enfermos. Las familias de los pacientes son también un enfoque importante de los cuidados paliativos, y los servicios están diseñados para proporcionarles la asistencia y el apoyo que necesitan.”
        Definición de la OMS
        “Los Cuidados Paliativos son un modo de abordar la enfermedad avanzada e incurable que pretende mejorar la calidad de vida tanto de los pacientes que afrontan una enfermedad como de sus familias, mediante la prevención y el alivio del sufrimiento a través de un diagnóstico precoz, una evaluación adecuada y el oportuno tratamiento del dolor y de otros problemas tanto físicos como psicosociales y espirituales.

        Los cuidados paliativos y por extensión los equipos de cuidados paliativos
        proporcionan alivio al dolor y a otros síntomas;
        defienden la vida (son “vitalistas”) pero contemplan la muerte como un proceso natural;
        no intentan acelerar ni posponer el fallecimiento;
        incorporan los aspectos psicológico y espiritual en la atención al paciente;
        proporcionan un apoyo para ayudar a los pacientes a mantener hasta el fallecimiento, dentro de sus limitaciones, el mayor nivel de actividad;
        ofrecen su ayuda a la familia a lo largo del proceso de la enfermedad y, luego, en el duelo;
        trabajan en equipo para resolver el conjunto de necesidades del paciente y de sus familiares incluido, cuando es preciso, el apoyo en el duelo;
        no sólo pretenden mejorar la calidad de vida, sino que pueden influir también de manera positiva en el curso de la enfermedad;
        se pueden aplicar de manera temprana en la evolución de la enfermedad asociados a otros tratamientos como la quimioterapia y la radioterapia, dirigidos a prolongar la supervivencia, y abarcan también los estudios encaminados a comprender y a tratar de manera más adecuada las complicaciones que puedan afectar al paciente.”

        Asociación Europea de Cuidados Paliativos
        “Los cuidados paliativos afirman la vida y consideran la muerte como un proceso natural: ni la aceleran ni la retrasan. Se administran para mantener la mejor calidad de vida posible hasta la muerte.”3

        Source: http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuidados_paliativos

      • I know logic is not your first language, but “having difficulty speaking,” and not speaking in more than two months,is chavista for “he can’t speak.” Regarding palliative care, in communication when you’re explaining, you’re losing. His use of the term was an unfortunate (for them) fumble.

        The point of the article remains – by denying, counter-denying, using vague terms, and contradicting themselves, they are making a mess of their story.

  4. So true. And the fact they’ve been forced to reveal what are really terrible pictures of the Dear Leader just underlines how bad things are. I did think that Chavez was out of the frame politically – but perhaps there is truth in the statements that he’s been writing down instructions. That would explain the current paralysis and lack of control over the news cycle.

    • I dont understand you people. They said Chavez was alive, but in a delicate state. He was/is obviously in no condition to start making public appearances! Yet you’ve been demanding proof of life, and now you have been given it. And although they confirm what government officials have been saying for weeks, you act like it’s a scandal.

      • Where is the tracheostomy tube? Covered by a T shirt and a jacket?. No oxygen despite what they call “respiratory problems” No nebulizer to avoid that the trache tube will clog and kill him? No monitors? How about his reading glasses? He used them before leaving for Cuba, they cured him of that too? Give us a break???!!!!!

        • They took the tube out for the photo, and he is only pretending to read the paper.

          Not so hard in the end, was it?

            • yeah, saw the brushed dark parts around the zipper’s teeth. Just didn’t feel like downloading the image to enlarge up to pixel level, to confirm. The photoshopping has been anything but expertly done, whether by Cubans, hugh, or by martians. But hey, when half-assed measures are good enough to sell the lie to the main target market, and when each image is now commanding a Bs 3 street price, one can conclude that the photoshopping was good enough. #esloquehay

      • That’s right yoyo. The government has been a model of transparency about this from the get go. It’s all perfectly normal. For someone on the lunatic left, you are surprisingly lacking in skepticism.

  5. Its a shock to see the once energetic talkative domineering , all powerful president reduced to a kind of propped up idiotically smiling stooge in a photo thats evidently been staged to make him look as beatifically normal as possible, The man who once took all the air waves to make 9 hour speeches cajoling, threatening , insulting reduced to near absolute muteness interpersed with a few grunts and wheezes, not able to breathe on his own , raise his head, or seat or stand up or walk . Its obviously that he is not a well man , moreover that in all likelhood he is moribund , which should surprise no one given the terrible disease he is known to have , and the state of development which it has reached , I see an element of cruelty in the way in which the regimes wannage understudys force the guy to go through these pathetic manipulations just so they can maintain themselves a bit longer to gain some much needed leverage in the forthcoming elections The opposition has been asking for a proof of life precisely because the regime has made such a shoddy incredible spectacle of the mans presumably able condition , when the regime knows full well as does eveyone else that he is very very ill and practically at deaths door. Their crocodile tears for the life and deeply compromised health of their ‘dear leader’ only underscores their insensitivity to his terrible plight as a human being . The whole dolled up photo shoot reeks of dishonesty and communicational manipulation just for the sake of a political plan which every day is going more awry at the expense of a very ill , dying man . Someone from their side should shout stop this , let the man alone , for once lets be honest with the world , but they cant , theyre too wrapped up in their adoration of absolute power to do the humane honest thing , theyre scum!!

    • Through my eyes, the very fundamental problem is, these guys live in their unreflected self-perception that they were among the most equitable, even-handed, fair-minded and lawful people in the world, the progressive ones, the good ones etc., working for humanity, human progress etc., and they’re maintaining this perception based on illusional, dogmatic ideas that contain so many silly circular arguments that most of these guys are simply unable for a long time already, to recognise reality entirely. They are simply unreachable by reality.
      This is why it is almost useless to argue, since this kind of thinking is a belief, like a religious system. You can only really become part of it, if you give off your rationality and reasaon at the entrance door. Then you will “understand” and “see” that you’re basically always right in what you do, and that anything that goes wrong is only because there are enemies that disturb and mess up things. And absolutely nothing can take you away anymore from this perception.
      Especially for simpple-minded people, such “circular framework” is really attractive to step through its door, but also for more intelligent ones, if the gratification is huge enough. Basically, of course it feels always great that once you believe in such framework of thinking, you can feel right, because doubts about your attitude are systematically neutralized behind this entrance “door”.
      Of course, and fortunately, not everybody, not even every Chavista, is able to step through this door completely, arguing and thinking then in these circular, illusionary, dogmatic ways.
      But if the leader himself rules very strictly for a longer time based upon this kind of illusionary thinking, what happens?
      People who didn’t follow him completely through the “door” MUST feel doubts anytime, more or less quickly. Some uttering them, some not, but: However exactly it goes, these people with doubts, or explicit objections, even if only in SOME points, will anytime, more or less soon, either be expelled or run away from the craziness.
      So it can’t be any surprise, that so many former comrades of Chavez, on different levels, have run away, run out of the system, throughout the years – if you haven’t stepped through this “door” completely, it can’t work. And also, it is not very surprising that naturally the guys behind the door can and could perceive any fundamental critics and objections only as to be betrayal and treason.
      So, after such a long time of almost 15 years, everybody who had left any notion and sense of reality, is already out there. Result: The greatest “experts” are left in this clan, exactly the ones who made it to give off their brain on the doorstep long ago and completely. This is kind of an “locked in”-syndrome.
      Look at the “Peter Principle”, also. What else can be expected after 15 years of that kind of “General Manager”?
      I’m absolutely sure, that narrow-mindedness and bigotry will go even much further and reach new heights in the coming weeks. I lived in a country in which exactly the “brothers” of Castro ruled for decades, and messed up the country, until we could finally get rid of them. And EVERYBODY of el pueblo was so happy happy happy then!!! (except 10 percent).
      So for Venezuela, I think there is no way to hope reason comes back to their minds. History will have to overcome the delusion.
      Believe me, we know this kind of guys. My god, so glad this is past, but absolutely crazy, to see that this is developing in the weirdest way again – in Venezuela. Also, to see how again irritated leftists outside the country think this is going to be paradise on earth. But don’t loose hope, therea re many who will never step through this “door”…eventually truth will celebrate victory…la democracia y la razón vencen.

    • As do I. I think the psychological manipulations that are going on here are beyond comprehension. I think that these people are the epitome of evil to do this to this man.

  6. I think this is planed to announce Chavez resign. Specially the Arreaza Interview by Telesur.

    Listen to it carefully. I don’t doubt they were clear what will be asked. Patricia Villegas ask directly about the “cancer”. God forgive, did you hear somebody speaking plainly of “cancer” before? (it was all about “lesions” “malignant” “cells”, etc). And then Arreaza says there are hard treatments ongoing, with strong risks to his life. And that they are palliative treatments (if he knows what it means, he wouldn’t use it so easy and he must know, he is with Chávez for months speaking to the doctors). So, why would you use life endangering treatments for nothing?
    This is for the first time the admission that Chávez is dying.
    I expect they announce Chávez resign in the next time. Even the pope resigned (maybe it is a reason too, look the positive reception he has).

    • At 9:44, Patricia begins to sniff out the C word, before spitting it out. At 9:53, Arreaza answers, and he includes a comment on the “tratamientos paliativos que son fuertes…”.
      He doesn’t knows what ‘tratamientos paliativos’ are all about. For they are anything but “fuertes”. Poor ignoramus trying to wing it in an unfamiliar field, other than the field of lies and half-truths.

      • From the context (treatment already applied before) it should be a chemotherapy, maybe in a lower dosis. It would only reduce the growing rate for a while, it is not going to cure him. That is why they refer to it as palliative. I don’t think he would be speaking of palliative if that word was not told by the doctors.

        • Arreaza was probably told by doctors that they would from now on, only apply palliative treatment. However, the dunce did not look up the word, is simply repeating like a parrot what he heard.

          Palliative treatment means do NOTHING to CURE, because a cure is impossible. We’re talking a terminal road, here. But by all means, ASSIST the patient so that he has a better quality of life in his dying days/weeks. Therefore, he’s given morphine and any other opiates for the pain, and to sleep. He’s given an oxygen mask to assist his breathing, perhaps back on the ventilator periodically — perhaps.

          From the little I know about chemo, I can only imagine that even a lower dose would create difficulties. And those difficulties would be in conflict with the protocols for palliative care.

          But the key issue here is that Arreaza is doing a job for which he has no qualifications, simply because he’s a son-in-law of the man that was once in charge. (No wait! Chávez is still in charge, discussing economic and geopolitical issues, prior to signing contracts and documents with a vigourous hand. Uh-huh.)

          • Syd, yes, chemo is not without risks, and that is why they refer to a hard treatment. I’m nearly sure that is. Maybe Arreaza is not the brightest and not with ample knowledge, but I think he is telling what he knows (more or less) and chemo is a possible treatment that would not cure, but would give him some time, reducing some suffering while coming at risk of other complications. Peste o cólera.

          • I also think with Bocaranda and Marquina or ABC, people tend to think Chávez is in a worser condition as he is. I don’t give them much credibility, a lot looks like wild guesses. Sure Chávez is a terminal patient, but there are gradations of grey.

            • First, I do not believe this photo was taken yesterday. And so I believe that Ch. is in worse condition than what appears in the photo.

              Is Ch. as bad as Boca, Marquina and ABC believe? I’m not sure. What I do know is that the reports by pundits, who’ve based their information on what appears to be credible sources (albeit with some gaps), have not been denied — for the most part — by the government. And that days or weeks later, that very government has come out with similar news as was reported by the pundits.

            • I’m sorry to inform you, yoyo, that you come across as not the sharpest knife in the drawer. I suggest you read the Wikipedia page with the little logic that you possess. Know that while palliative treatment can be provided to those at all stages of disease, including the curable ones, Chávez does not have a curable disease. Period. Get that through your nogging and the rest will be easier to follow. Furthermore, your beloved Wikipedia states that “Medications and treatments are said to have a palliative effect if they relieve symptoms without having a curative effect on the underlying disease or cause.”

              Got that? Now that I see your inability to backup your comments, I can understand how easily you fall for the little trinkets and charms of anyone trying to sell you a fantasy.

              Poor yoyo. CC = palliative treatment for the delusional.

              • I know you like to make fun of people but jeez ….

                You need to look up the word ‘ nogging’.

                You will see that you made an incorrect spelling. It is ‘noggin’,or a slang word for ‘head’, not ‘ nogging ‘

                Learn to use a dictionary.

              • Exactly you thick plank. Palliative care just means making you feel better.

                End of discussion, thanks for playing.

              • Thank you, troll#4 a-dd for showing us your oh-so sensitive side, trotted out for convenience. Know that most of us that come to these boards make and tolerate spelling mistakes. We also make and tolerate ironical statements. What we don’t tolerate are trolls who try to defend the indefensible by using half-assed arguments, even lies, only hide and put on another persona when they are shown how out of touch they are with reality. It’s that simple. Got it?

            • Care is not the same as treatment. Not in spanish too. And what would be a hard palliative treatment for you? High in risk? Any suggestion? What tell you that about the cancer treatment?

  7. Indeed, losing the spin war, if they have to publish such a photo. It takes logic about 30 seconds to decide where to archive this kind of spin, of Chavez fighting for dear life:

    Right in the same folder with Chevy Chase’s immortal take on fascist spin, 38 years earlier:

    “Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still valiantly holding on in his fight to remain dead.”

  8. Ordinary logic and usage dictates that when some one offers us a palliative rather than a cure or remedy the suggestion is clearly there that a palliative is offered because a cure is not available . In this case the word palliative is used by a top Chavista honcho to whom the word palliative is probably a strange term so it may be that he has no idea of what he is actually suggesting by using the word . The precise state of Mr Chavez condition is treated as a state secret and dealt with through words which are medically ambiguous but which suggest that his health is delicate and uncertain , that he is incapable of breathing on his own and thus that his speech faculties are seriously impaired . The photo itself is very revealing both in what it shows and what it atempts to hide . The appearance is of a man in a extreme state of incapacity which is what officially the regime is attempting to deny for political decisions of its own . The photo is not really important because every sign points towards Mr Chavez being almost undoubtedly in the throes of death, the important subject is the paquetazo and the regimes desperate efforts to distract peoples attention from it and its implications because of the electoral consequences it may have . Mr chavez has presumably called for Cabellos presence in his havana sick bed , prepare for some sort of denoument to this macabre situation !!

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