The fact that Chavez even got close enough to Obama to shake hands -- never mind to present a book -- talks volumes for White House special adviser, Jeffrey Davidow (a former US Ambassador to Venezuela) who more than obviously takes the kudos for the new rapprochement being forged between sworn enemies of the disastrous Bush era...
Of course, the scarcely independent pro-Chavez and government-subsidized Venezuelanalysis.com rushes to rapture claiming, in a heavily-loaded piece by Tom Hayden that when "Obama implements a campaign pledge, the dinosaurs used to running things push back."
Amazingly they claim that "The latest dinosaur to undercut the president's gestures is Jeffrey Davidow" simply because Davidow spoke the unblemished truth and told reporters in Trinidad that "Obama is more popular than Chavez in Venezuela!" Is someone now going to deny the obvious truth? Of course, the Venezuelan adulation of Obama could simply be explained away as a "boomerang effect" on the abject hatred with which the United States was unfortunately ham-strung all over the world by the murderous criminal George W. Bush ... but, shouldn't we be thankful that fresh winds of sanity are prevailing in the White House these days even if the question is put to doubt in some sectors of the Venezuelan administration.
Witness the fact that Venezuela's Ministry of Communications & Information (MinCI) fell over themselves in haste to pump out pictures of the famous handshake and the presidential book-sales promotional for Eduardo Galleano's book.
As said, all kudos to Jeffrey Davidow rather than the scurrilous put-down chronicled in Venezuelanalysis. Davidow may be a giant of a man but he's far from being a dinosaur and it is purely because of his behind-the-scenes management as a professional diplomat that either of the two much-syndicated photo-opportunities took place.
Truth to tell, Davidow had been working diligently to achieve everything that was achieved at the weekend ever since he was dragged in from the Institute of the Americas in California to spearhead the White House's policy ahead of Trinidad. It was not for nothing that Davidow was called in to rescue what could have been a catastrophic event for the United States in the Latin American calendar. Single-handedly (with his support team) Jeffrey Davidow made sure that the event would proceed as it did, to everyone's satisfaction and enormous diplomatic advantages for everyone concerned ... not least for Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez Frias, who was able to perform an amazing somersault in Venezuela-USA relations despite the crass rhetoric of just a few days before at the precipitated ALBA meeting in Cumana.
Tom Hayden's scurrilous attempt to put Jeffrey Davidow down as a "dinosaur" is simply unadulterated crap! It was well-known, before the event, that Venezuelan photographers covering the event were on the strictest of orders to capture any millisecond that could be interpreted as friendly intercourse between Obama and Chavez. So it's an undeniable truism that "Chavez wanted a photo with Obama to polish his reputation!" That Davidow also said "Obama is more popular than Chavez in Venezuela!" is equally (if not the more so), a truism, and to describe the multi-media manipulation of Chavez foisting a Spanish-language book on Obama as being somehow "disparaged," by Davidow's simple observation that the charade was "unnecessary," is simply stating the obvious since Obama has more than enough staff and interns at the White House to keep him briefed on matters essentially more important at home than what should really be Hillary Clinton's bailiwick. Never mind, Galleano's book will make a good coffee-table center-piece!
Hayden scorns Davidow claiming (supposedly with insider knowledge) that Davidow is practicing the old diplomacy, somehow in contrast with Obama's new....
Forgetting the fact that Davidow is Obama's closest and most specialized adviser on Latin America and Venezuela in particular (about which he possesses extensive knowledge and experience from an era before mid-life crisis Donna Hrinak began the plunge in not-so-diplomatic USA-Venezuela relations), Davidow is very much a pragmatist and his personally positive regard for Venezuela and Venezuelans is undeniable.
Davidow: "Brazil, Chile, Peru and Colombia are forward-looking, not backward-looking Latin American countries ...normalization of ties to Cuba are part of historical baggage that Latin America carries with it ... almost a reflexive suspicion or anti-Americanism."
Venezuelanalysis chides that "if Davidow was hoping to provoke an unproductive reaction from the Venezuelans, he failed, at least on Saturday. But his spoiler comments were in stark contrast to a president pledged to listening, dialogue and respect. Obama's modest relaxation of restrictions on travel and remittances to Cuba, combined with his Justice Department's prosecution of the anti-Castro terrorist Luis Posada Carillo, has unleashed a momentum for policy change that may be unstoppable." (We'll overlook the fact that Hayden/Venezuelanalysis can't even get Posada Carriles' name right!)
??? Does one think even for a minute that Obama had not discussed the situation exhaustively with Davidow and is it conceivable that Davidow was perpetuating Otto Reich-style reds-under-the-bed USA Cold War lack-of-diplomacy all the while? Scarcely!
So ... moving on to attack the messenger when all else fails in his diatribe, Hayden demands to know who Jeffrey Davidow is?
Among the plethora of attempts at black-balling Davidow, he lists the undeniable fact that he was ambassador to Venezuela from 1993 to 1996 but says that Davidow spent his time "defending the social order which fell to the Chavez political revolution two years later!" A loaded statement or what? To my best personal recollection, Jeffrey Davidow led a more open and definitely less paranoid administration at La Floresta before it bunkered down at the Las Colinas fortress ... he certainly had a greater interface with ordinary Venezuelans than those ambassadorial representatives who followed, but to say that he defended the "social order" of the epoch puts him in a league with the rabid Otto Reich ... and I can personally attest to the fact that Jeffrey Davidow is NOT such a cretin.
Hayden/Venezuelanalysis goes so far, pathetically, as to try also to denigrate the Institute of the Americas -- which Davidow has headed since 2003 -- promoting regional integration, economic development and efficient government in the western hemisphere. They castigate him for expressing an opinion ahead of the 2007 election pin-pointing 'a creeping coup' and a threat to future oil supplies from Venezuela. Is someone, now going to deny it? Likewise that Davidow questioned what to do, inasmuch as Venezuela has become a major trans-shipment point for drugs to the United States and Europe.