Last month– before Hugo Chavez dug up the bones of Simon Bolivar and broke diplomatic relations with neighboring Colombia– the BBC’s Stephen Sackur interviewed him for the Hardtalk program and, to Sackur’s credit, asked some difficult questions. In fact he raised many of the issues I’ve been raising about Chavez for years.
For example Sackur raised the interesting point that while GDP has recently increased in other Latin American countries, it has declined in Venezuela.
Chavez’s answers were a mixture of evasion, lies and world-class whataboutery.
His bashing of the rich would be more convincing if a whole class of Boligarchs weren’t getting wealthy through their ties to his government.
And asked about his government’s expulsion of two Human Rights Watch monitors in 2008, Chavez responded:
I’d like to see the human rights reports on the United States government, which bombs cities and kills children. I’d like to see the human rights reports on the government of Israel, which destroyed Gaza and murdered and massacred in full view of the whole world thousands of women and children.
That is to say, he didn’t answer the question.
Later Chavez actually praised the “tough” interviewer. But I can’t imagine he’d ever sit for an interview with a Venezuelan journalist independent enough to ask such questions. And strangely, when I raise the same questions as Sackur, none of Chavez’s apologists among our readers ever praise me– in fact, quite the opposite.