Saturday, November 09, 2013

Jim Wyss in Venezuelan Jail

According to reports, the Venezuelan government has arrested Miami Herald reporter Jim Wyss and put him in prison.

Some initial thoughts:

1. It is hard to imagine Venezuelan law enforcement arresting a prominent reporter, especially from the U.S., without clear prior authorization. Not impossible, but hard to imagine. The fact that he was transferred to military intelligence is a good indication.

2. If #1 is true, then Nicolás Maduro is trying to pick a fight. I can see logic behind that, as he talks constantly about an economic war from the U.S. without any evidence, but if he incurs sanctions (a la Cuba) then he has something tangible to point to for blame.

3. If #1 is true, then Maduro is even more desperate than I thought, though making Christmas come early is a pretty good indicator.

4. If #1 is NOT true, then Maduro has a problem. His heated rhetoric probably backs into a corner so that he needs to show strength, maybe by expelling Wyss from the country? Though I suppose he could show his magnanimity by letting him stay.

5. You can't spin putting reporters in prison.

Update: he was just released. I realize I did not add another option, which is pretend it never happened. But let's wait and see the Venezuelan government response. #1 may well be totally wrong.

Update 2: Here is his story. It makes his arrest and interrogation sound like local thuggery, and as far as I can see neither the government nor pro-government media has mentioned it at all.


Anonymous,  10:43 AM  

Greg, I am surprised that you did not identify the alleged crimes...oh, wait, maybe there are no charges..the reporter was working on municipal elections and consumer shortages.

Greg Weeks 10:45 AM  

True, I neglected to mention that. I assume there will be some sort of conspiratorial charge but he was arrested for reporting.

Anonymous,  5:04 AM  

Greg, thanks for standing up for the press. So far I've heard no word on specifically why he was arrested, other than violating his tourist visa. The problem is that there is no such thing as a reporting visa in Venezuela. There is a business visa, for meetings and sales and such. And there is the special invitee visa for sports or music stars. According to the consulates I visited in trying to get a reporting visa there, those are the only options. In the end, those reporters working legally in Venezuela are able to get business visas, most likely by bribing consular officials abroad. The US companies who have reporters full time in Venezuela won't admit that they bribe consular officials, and the executives maintain plausible deniability from bribes by using an expediting company which in turn hires local helpers who hire...the usual corruption laundering. Not that I would know anything about that from having been the beneficiary of such a scheme, or anything.

I suspect that many of the bylines you see out of Venezuela are from people on tourist visas. This gives the government one more point of leverage against the guerra mediática.

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP