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I think Izarra was referring to UK Channel 4's Sandra Jordan ... although it could quite as easily have Corina Machado!

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VHeadline editor & publisher Roy S. Carson writes: I used to have a lot of professional respect for Venezuela's current Minister of Communications & Information (MinCI) Andres Izarra. In fact it is undeniable that I had a deep admiration for him when he decided to resign on the spot from a well-paid job as a news producer at Radio Caracas Television (TCTV) when the station's millionaire owner Marcel Granier ordered him to pull the plug on live coverage of President Hugo Chavez' restoration to power after the two-day dictatorship of USA-funded Pedro Carmona Estanga in April 2002.

There was something distinctly distasteful in the way Granier ordered him to broadcast Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck cartoons when so much was happening in the streets of Caracas to celebrate the jubilation, and the sheer force of the democratic power of the people to have Chavez brought back from isolation on the Caribbean island of La Orchila.
  • But slightly more than six years on, Andres Izarra is beginning to show the ravages of time and travail ... with a noticeably receding hairline and a furrowed brow that hasn't yet (we hope!) been the recipient of any Botox treatment.

The problem is that Andres Izarra has himself changed from that of being an idealistic fighter for freedom of expression to yet another frightened jungle bunny in an administration that sees shadows behind every imaginary tree ... and then some!

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When he was given a plum job at Venezuela's Washington Embassy shortly after his RCTV demise, it was thought that he was at least exercising his professional skills to knock some sense into the clutch of desk pilots that populate 1099 30th St., N.W., Washington D.C.

At the time he confessed to me that the legation was "infested" with "escualidos" -- a then newly-coined disparagement for anyone who is not a "chavista" -- and that he was having certain difficulties with the indolences of an embassy team that equated "team spirit" as something more akin to the Jimmy Hoffa's concept of "teamsters" than any thought of working for the ultimate good of the home country, Venezuela, other than their own...

Andres was -- at that time -- encouraging of wider debate about Venezuela's political progress and even applauded the more radical outbursts of congenitally anti-Chavez agitator Gustavo Coronel as an opportunity to achieve a wider public debate on Coronel's more garrulous misconceptions about Chavez' "revolution" based on his own (Coronel's) antecedents as an executive president of the Venezuelan Guayana Corporation (CVG) and Pequiven ... neither of which, historically, has been known for its probity or any WASP-ish stance against acts of criminal corruption.

Tucked safely away in my archive of bluely adjectivized emails from Andres, there's one in which he distinctly blew his colloquial top over the antics of a trans-Atlantic propagandist whose fixation with anything and everything negative about Venezuela was a bone gnawing on Andres' sensibilities at that particular time. I must admit, I was rather taken aback by follow-up communications in which Andres said he had taken "steps" to ensure that that particular perpetrator was being "taken care of" and.... well, that's a part of the significant history of what was to follow.

When Andres was recalled to Caracas to head the President's publicity offensive against the opposition's efforts to unseat him in a 2004 Recall Referendum, there was quite a bit of international interest, and I recall that I was able to get Andres to give British Channel 4's "Unreported World" reporter Sandra Jordan certain access she might not otherwise have had if she had simply turned up at Maiquetia with a camera/soundman in tow.

But Woah! As soon as Sandra attempted balance to get an interview with Sumate's Corina Machado, the Izarra cooperation went quickly into full-speed reverse and next thing I heard was "what's the b*tch want now..."

  • I think he was referring to Sandra, although it could quite as easily have been Ms. Machado...

When Andres was appointed Minister of Communications & Information (MinCI) the first time around -- post-Recall Referendum -- he committed perhaps his career's greatest folly by bringing in Yuri (I've been a revolutionary for 25 years) Pimentel as his Vice Minister ... an appropriate title since Yuri had (and still has) many vices that are ever more apparent in this current mishandling of just about everything at Venezolana de Television (VTV), to which presidential sinecure he was appointed after not achieving much at TeleSur, where he immediately had fitted squarely into the round hole as Izarra's "bagman" -- something that journalist Miguel Salazar so aptly illustrated in a recent issue of his 'Verdades de Miguel' political magazine ... and that's been a thorn in the butts of the Tom & Jerry team of Izarra/Pimentel for more time than they care to remember.

The problem is/was that the Ministry of Communications & Information is anything BUT what it should be...

When I had the "pleasure" to visit its premises a few years back, I quite honestly likened it to a wreck of a second-hand furniture store with "officials" running all over the place trying to look like officials ... and most of them with just about as much allegiance to the job as a monkey up a tree that sees a chance to make a grab for a sandwich out of your hand if you dare to picnic anywhere within reach inside the zoo.

Yuri -- even with his alleged 25 years as a revolutionary -- has since proved to be just as hapless as first impressions, and would probably be better back designing brochures for the print shop at the Caracas Libertador municipality he had previously called home.

So .... Andres Izarra's furrowed brow and his receding hairline have probable cause in the incompetencies and the paranoia of his closest allies. He frets about Poleo advising Chavez to watch his back in case he ends up strung upside down like Benito Mussolini and classifies the rhetorical advisory from the senior (admittedly opposition) journalist, somehow, as a threat of assassination.

Phew! I'd bet that there are quite a few who'd like to see Izarra and his buddy bag-man strung up as well ... but does that really mean that a SWAT team is about to Semtex my door hinges to drag me away hooded and cuffed to Guantanamo for THAT!

Get real Andres! Grab some of that journalistic ethic you used to have

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Roy S. Carson is veteran foreign correspondent (45+ years in the business) currently editor & publisher of VHeadline Venezuela reporting on news & views from and about Venezuela in South America -- available for interviews -- call Houston (more...)
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