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Broadcasting Populist Leadership: Hugo Chávez and Aló Presidente

  • EDUARDO FRAJMAN
Abstract

The transcripts of the television programme Aló Presidente, the centrepiece of President Hugo Chávez's media strategy, provide insight into the different ways in which his movement promoted the image of its leader and sought to solidify his emotionally charged connection with the Venezuelan masses. The study outlines the dynamics behind the changing format and content of Aló Presidente and places it within the context of earlier research on populist media use in Latin America. Although similar to its predecessors, the programme was a unique creation of Chavismo, designed to balance Chávez's knack for improvisation with a structure designed to curb his excesses and keep him on message. This led to occasional tension between Chávez and the media professionals charged with the programme's production. The article provides a corrective to inaccurate treatments in the media and scholarly literature, and offers new information on Aló Presidente to facilitate future comparative studies.

Las transcripciones del programa televisivo Aló Presidente, el instrumento mediático clave del presidente Hugo Chávez, dan luces sobre las diferentes formas en las que su movimiento promovió la imagen de su líder y buscó solidificar su conexión emocionalmente cargada con las masas venezolanas. El estudio señala las dinámicas cambiantes detrás del formato y contenido de Aló Presidente y las ubica al interior de investigaciones anteriores sobre el uso populista de los medios de comunicación en América Latina. Aunque similar a sus predecesores, el programa fue una creación única del chavismo, diseñado para equilibrar la habilidad de Chávez para improvisar con una estructura diseñada para limitar sus excesos y no perder el mensaje principal. Esto llevó a tensiones ocasionales entre Chávez y los profesionales mediáticos encargados de la producción del programa. El artículo provee un correctivo a otros tratamientos inexactos en los medios de comunicación y en la literatura académica, y ofrece nuevos datos de Aló Presidente, para facilitar estudios comparativos en el futuro.

As transcrições do programa de televisão Alô Presidente, peça central da estratégia midiática do presidente Hugo Chávez, permitem observar as diferentes maneiras pelas quais o movimento liderado por ele promoveu sua imagem e buscou solidificar sua conexão emotiva com as massas venezuelanas. Este estudo traça as dinâmicas por trás da mudança de formato e conteúdo do Alô Presidente colocando o programa no contexto das primeiras pesquisas acerca do uso populista da mídia na América Latina. Apesar de ser parecido com seus predecessores, o programa foi uma criação única do Chavismo, elaborado para balancear o talento de Chávez para a improvisação com uma estrutura criada para conter seus excessos e mantê-lo fiel ao roteiro do programa. Isso criou tensões ocasionais entre Chávez e os profissionais de mídia responsáveis pela produção do programa. O artigo permite corrigir abordagens imprecisas na mídia e literatura acadêmica e oferece novas informações sobre o Alô Presidente que facilitarão futuros estudos comparativos.

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1 The term ‘populism’ is here understood as ‘a political strategy through which a personalistic leader seeks or exercises government power based on direct, unmediated, uninstitutionalized support from large numbers of mostly unorganized followers’: see Weyland, Kurt, ‘Clarifying a Contested Concept: Populism in the Study of Latin American Politics’, Comparative Politics, 34: 1 (2001), p. 14; Mazzoleni, Gianpietro, ‘Populism and the Media’, in Albertazzi, Daniele and McDonnell, Duncan (eds.), Twenty-First Century Populism: The Spectre of Western European Democracy (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), p. 49; Waisbord, Silvio, ‘Media Populism: Neopopulism in Latin America’, in Mazzoleni, Gianpietro, Stewart, Julianne and Horsfield, Bruce (eds.), The Media and Neopopulism: A Contemporary Comparative Analysis (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2003), p. 201; and Boas, Taylor C., ‘Television and Neopopulism in Latin America: Media Effects in Brazil and Peru’, Latin American Research Review, 40: 2 (2005), p. 46.

2 Mazzoleni, ‘Populism and the Media’, p. 52.

3 Bos, Linda, Wouter van der Brug and Claes de Vreese, ‘How the Media Shape Perceptions of Right-Wing Populist Leaders’, Political Communication, 28: 2 (2011), p. 182; Boas, ‘Television and Neopopulism in Latin America’, p. 30.

4 Ben Plotkin, Mariano, ‘Perón y el peronismo: un ensayo bibliográfico’, Estudios Interdisciplinarios de América Latina y el Caribe, 2: 1 (1991); Mazzoleni, ‘Populism and the Media’, p. 50.

5 de la Torre, Carlos, ‘Masas, pueblo y democracia: un balance crítico de los debates sobre el nuevo populismo’, Revista de Ciencia Política, 23: 1 (2003), p. 64.

6 Comprising over 20,000 pages of text and accompanied by several hundred hours of video recordings, the transcripts can be found on the website of the Venezuelan Ministerio del Poder Popular para la Comunicación y la Información (Popular Power Ministry for Communication and Information), at www.alopresidente.gob.ve. All internet references were last checked in May 2014.

7 ‘In Hugo's Hands’, Economist, 12 April 2006.

8 Bryman, Alan, Social Research Methods (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), p. 542.

9 Pino, Elías, El divino Bolívar: ensayos sobre una religión republicana (Madrid: Los Liberos de la Catarata, 2003), p. 214; Cañizales, Andrés, Pensar la sociedad civil: actores sociales, espacio público y medios en Venezuela (Caracas: Universidad Católica Andrés Bello, 2007), p. 50; Muñoz, Boris, ‘Cesarismo mediático’, Comunicación, 147 (2009), p. 9, available at www.gumilla.org/biblioteca/bases/biblo/texto/COM2009147_5-11.pdf.

10 Hawkins, Kirk A., ‘La organización populista: los Círculos Bolivarianos en Venezuela’, in de la Torre, Carlos and Peruzzotti, Enrique (eds.), El retorno del pueblo: populismo y nuevas democracias en América Latina (Quito: FLACSO, 2008), p. 128.

11 Ellner, Steve, ‘The Contrasting Variants of the Populism of Hugo Chávez and Alberto Fujimori’, Journal of Latin American Studies, 35: 1 (2003), p. 146.

12 Antonio Mayorga, René, ‘Outsiders and Neopopulism: The Road to Plebiscitary Democracy’, in Mainwaring, Scott, María Bejarano, Ana and Pizarro Leongómez, Eduardo (eds.), The Crisis of Democratic Representation in the Andes (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2006), p. 141.

13 As originally conceptualised by Max Weber, charismatic leadership is ‘personal authority deriving from devotion to the specific sanctity, heroism or exemplary character of an individual person and of the normative patterns or order revealed or obtained by him’: Weber, Max (ed. Parsons, Talcott), The Theory of Social and Economic Organization (New York: Free Press, 1947), p. 328.

14 Canovan, Margaret, ‘Trust the People! Populism and the Two Faces of Democracy’, Political Studies, 47: 1 (1999), p. 6. See also Roberts, ‘Populism, Political Conflict and Grass-Roots Organization in Latin America’, p. 132; Greenfeld, Liah, ‘Reflections on Two Charismas’, British Journal of Sociology, 36: 1 (1985), p. 122.

15 Weyland, ‘Clarifying a Contested Concept’, p. 14.

16 Roberts, ‘Populism, Political Conflict, and Grass-Roots Organization’, p. 136. See also Mazzoleni, Gianpietro, Stewart, Julianne and Horsfield, Bruce, ‘Power to the Media Managers’, in Mazzoleni, , Stewart, and Horsfield, (eds.), The Media and Neopopulism, p. 234.

17 Waisbord, Silvio, ‘Democracy, Journalism, and Latin American Populism’, Journalism, 14: 4 (2013), p. 507.

18 Ameringer, Charles, The Socialist Impulse: Latin America in the Twentieth Century (Gainesville, FL: University of Florida Press, 2009), p. 102; Luna, Félix, Perón y su tiempo (Buenos Aires: Editorial Sudamericana, 1989), p. 23; Alberto Fraiman, Juan, ‘Medios de comunicación masiva y populismo en América latina: posibles articulaciones para analizar los casos en el peronismo argentino, el getulismo brasileño y el cardenismo mexicano’, Razón y Palabra, 70 (2009), available at www.razonypalabra.org.mx/10%20Fraiman_revisado.pdf.

19 Foix, Pere, Cárdenas: su actuación, su país (Mexico City: Fronda, 1947), p. 99.

20 Ibid., p. 102; Correa, Eduardo J., El balance del cardenismo (Mexico City: Acción, 1941), p. 354.

21 Rose, R. S., One of the Forgotten Things: Getúlio Vargas and Brazilian Social Control, 1930–1954 (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2000), p. 82.

22 Ibid., p. 83.

23 Levine, Robert M., Father of the Poor? Vargas and His Era (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998), p. 61.

24 Ibid., p. 97; Haussen, Doris Fagundes, ‘Radio and Populism in Brazil: The 1930s and 1940s’, Television and New Media, 6: 3 (2005), pp. 252–3.

25 Levine, Father of the Poor?, p. 40; Fagundes, ‘Radio and Populism in Brasil’, p. 257.

26 Ciria, Alberto, Política y cultura popular: la Argentina peronista, 1946–1955 (Buenos Aires: Ediciones La Flor, 1983), p. 259; Mirta Varela, ‘Peronismo y medios: control político, industria nacional y gusto popular’ (2007), p. 2, available at www.rehime.com.ar/escritos/documentos/idexalfa/v/varela/Mirta%20Varela%20-%20Peronismo%20y%20medios.pdf.

27 Ciria, Política y cultura popular, p. 305; del Barco, Ricardo, El régimen peronista, 1946–1955 (Buenos Aires: Editiorial de Belgrano, 1983), p. 77.

28 Boas, ‘Television and Neopopulism in Latin America’, p. 33.

29 Kay, Bruce H., ‘ “Fujipopulism” and the Liberal State in Peru’, Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs, 38: 4 (1996), pp. 5598.

30 Ibid., p. 56.

31 Conaghan, Catherine M., ‘Cashing in on Authoritarianism: Media Collusion in Fujimori's Peru’, Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics, 7: 1 (2002), pp. 116–8.

32 Crabtree, John, ‘Populisms Old and New: The Peruvian Case’, Bulletin of Latin American Research, 19: 2 (2000), p. 165; Boas, ‘Television and Neopopulism in Latin America’, p. 35.

33 Ibid., p. 33; Castells, Manuel, The Power of Identity (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 1997), p. 316.

34 de la Torre, Carlos, ‘Neopopulism in Contemporary Ecuador: The Case of Bucaram's Use of the Mass Media’, International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society, 12: 4 (1999), p. 557.

35 De la Torre, ‘Neopopulism in Contemporary Ecuador’, p. 564.

36 Ibid., p. 557.

37 Gustavo Valle, ‘Los Kirchner vs. Clarín’, Letrillas, 2010, available at www.letraslibres.com/revista/letrillas/los-kirchner-vs-clarin.

38 Waisbord, ‘Democracy, Journalism, and Latin American Populism’, p. 512.

39 de la Torre, Carlos, Populist Seduction in Latin America (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2010), p. 189; Patriau, Enrique, ‘¡El populismo en campaña! Discursos televisivos de candidatos presidenciales en la Región Andina (2005–2006)’, Colombia Internacional, 76 (2012), pp. 293325.

40 de la Torre, Carlos, ‘El tecnopopulismo de Rafael Correa: ¿es compatible el carisma con la tecnocracia?’, Latin American Research Review, 48: 1 (2013), p. 32.

41 Reid, Michael, Forgotten Continent: The Battle for Latin America's Soul (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2007), p. 176; Weitzman, Hal, Latin Lessons: How South America Stopped Listening to the United States and Started Prospering (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2012), p. 196.

42 Krauze, Enrique, Redeemers: Ideas and Power in Latin America (New York: Harper Collins, 2011), p. 476.

43 ‘Political Agent of Change, the Latin American Edition’, New York Times, 25 Nov. 2008; Krauze, Redeemers, p. 476; Weitzman, Latin Lessons, p. 196; Guillermoprieto, Alma, ‘Don't Cry for Me, Venezuela’, New York Review of Books, 52: 15 (2005), available at www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2005/oct/06/dont-cry-for-me-venezuela/.

44 Fischer, Thomas, ‘Chávez, Hugo’, in Lee Kaid, Lynda and Holtz-Bacha, Christine (eds.), Encyclopaedia of Political Communication, vol. 1 (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2008), p. 97.

45 Washington Post, ‘“Aló Presidente,” Are You Still Talking?’, 30 May 2009.

46 Marcano, Cristina and Barrera, Alberto, Hugo Chávez: The Definitive Biography of Venezuela's Controversial President (New York: Random House, 2007). See also Morón, Guillermo, Memorial de agravios (Caracas: Alfadil, 2005), p. 228; Rachel Nolan, ‘Must Watch Television, Literally’, New York Times Magazine, 5 June 2012, p. 68.

47 Interview with Jon Lee Anderson, ‘The Hugo Chávez Show’, Frontline, 3 March 2009, available at www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/hugochavez/interviews/anderson.html#3.

48 Ministerio del Poder Popular para la Comunicación y la Información (MPPCI), ‘Aló Presidente, no. 1’, p. 1, available at www.alopresidente.gob.ve/materia_alo/25/p--31/. For brevity's sake, all quotes from Aló Presidente are referenced by the number of the broadcast in which they appear and the page number in the transcript available on the MPPCI website. All quotes from the programme are my translations from the original Spanish. On some occasions, punctuation changes have been made to correct grammatical errors in the transcripts or to preserve the intended meaning of a statement.

49 No. 87, p. 1.

50 No. 13, p. 44.

51 No. 30, p. 31.

52 No. 157, p. 35.

53 No. 310, p. 73.

54 No. 359, pp. 136–7.

55 No. 71, p. 22.

56 E.g., no. 109, p. 8. He also purportedly improved on Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara's call ‘motherland or death’ (‘patria o muerte’) with the mystifying ‘motherland, socialism or death’ (‘patria, socialismo o muerte’), which seems to imply that his followers must choose one of the three – clearly not the intended message. Whether any of his aides ever pointed this out is unclear. What is plain is Chávez's intent on creating some immortal words for history to remember him by: ‘It is a profound concept – philosophical, definitional, ideological, moral, ethical – which calls for endless battle’ (no. 272, p. 17).

57 Chirinos, Adriana and de Cabeza, Lourdes Molero, ‘La imágen del yo y del otro: construcción de identidades en los discursos de toma de posesión de los presidentes de Venezuela y Brasil’, Boletín de Lingüística, 19: 27 (2007), pp. 7093; Romero, Juan E., ‘El discurso político de Hugo Chávez (1996–1999)’, Espacio Abierto, 10: 2 (2001), pp. 229–45.

58 Hawkins, Venezuela's Chavismo and Populism in Comparative Perspective, pp. 53–65.

59 Ibid., p. 29; see also Marco Aponte Moreno, ‘Metaphors in Hugo Chávez's Political Discourse: Conceptualizing Nation, Revolution, and Opposition’, unpubl. PhD diss., City University of New York, 2008, pp. 22–3, available at http://elies.rediris.es/elies27/aponte_moreno_final_thesis.pdf.

60 For comparison, see de la Torre's discussion of populist leaders Victor Raúl Haya de la Torre, Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, Luis Miguel Sánchez Cerro, and Juan and Eva Perón: de la Torre, Carlos, ‘The Ambiguous Meanings of Latin American Populisms’, Social Research, 59: 2 (1992), pp. 400–5.

61 Varela, ‘Peronismo y medios’, p. 7.

62 Reinaldo Cortés, Belisa Méndez and Rosiris Materán, ‘Análisis de la estrategia discursiva de Hugo Chávez de cara a la creación del PSUV’, Disertaciones, 1: 1 (2008), available at http://erevistas.saber.ula.ve/index.php/Disertaciones/article/viewFile/33/13.

63 No. 150, p. 12.

64 Respectively, no. 15, p. 4; no. 61, p. 1; no. 89, p. 78; no. 94, p. 24; no. 187, p. 59; no. 88, p. 13; no. 89, p. 8; no. 132, p. 2; no. 130, p. 14; no. 203, p. 8; no. 194, p. 20.

65 No. 188, p. 31; no. 130, pp. 21–2.

66 No. 166, p. 34.

67 No. 33, p. 32. See Hawkins, Venezuela's Chavismo and Populism in Comparative Perspective, pp. 58–60.

68 Foix, Cárdenas, p. 102; de la Torre, ‘El tecnopopulismo de Rafael Correa’, p. 29.

69 Zúquete, José Pedro, ‘The Missionary Politics of Hugo Chávez’, Latin American Politics and Society, 50: 1 (2008), pp. 98101; see also Aponte Moreno, ‘Metaphors in Hugo Chávez's Political Discourse’, pp. 145–8.

70 E.g., no. 104, p. 16; no. 266, p. 7.

71 Chávez often compared the opposition to Nazis and accused them of imitating Joseph Goebbels: no. 26, p. 2; no. 222, p. 13.

72 No. 34, p. 24.

73 Zúquete, ‘The Missionary Politics of Hugo Chávez’, p. 101.

74 Krauze, Redeemers, p. 476.

75 No. 1, p. 2.

76 Ciria, Política y cultura popular, p. 305; de la Torre, ‘Neopopulism in Contemporary Ecuador’, p. 563.

77 Zúquete, ‘The Missionary Politics of Hugo Chávez’, p. 109.

78 No. 87, p. 4.

79 No. 311, p. 100.

80 Correa, El balance del cardenismo, p. 22; Levine, Father of the Poor?, p. 60.

81 No. 98, p. 4; no. 166, p. 13.

82 E.g., no. 125, p. 34; no. 216, p. 8; no. 354, p. 144.

83 Erlich, Frances, ‘Características y efectos del discurso autocentrado en Aló Presidente’, Boletín de Lingüística, 24 (2005), pp. 332; Reyes-Rodríguez, Antonio, ‘Discursive Strategies in Chávez's Political Discourse’, Critical Discourse Studies, 5: 2 (2008), pp. 133–52; Bolívar, Adriana, ‘“Democracia” y “revolución” en Venezuela: un análisis crítico del discurso político desde la lingüística de corpus’, Oralia, 12 (2009), pp. 2754.

84 Boris Muñoz, ‘Cesarismo mediático’, p. 8.

85 Canovan, ‘Trust the People!’, p. 6. For a discussion of propaganda as conditioning its audience, see O'Shaughnessy, Nicholas, ‘The Death and Life of Propaganda’, Journal of Public Affairs, 12: 1 (2012), p. 34.

86 Bryman, Social Research Methods, p. 542.

87 Cassell, Catherine and Symon, Gillian, ‘Qualitative Research in Work Contexts’, in Cassell, Catherine and Symon, Gillian (eds.), Qualitative Methods in Organisational Research: A Practical Guide (London: Sage, 1994), p. 4.

88 On the conflict between proponents of quantitative vs. qualitative content analysis, see Cheek, Julianne, ‘Beyond the “How To”: The Importance of Thinking About, Not Simply Doing, Qualitative Research’, in Nielsen, Klaus et al. (eds.), A Qualitative Stance: Essays in Honor of Steinar Kvale (Landelansgade: Aaarhus University Press, 2008), pp. 203–14; and Kohlbacher, Florian, ‘The Use of Qualitative Content Analysis in Case Study Research’, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 7: 1 (2006), available at www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/%20view/75/153January%202006.

89 Dominic Smith ‘A Corpus-Driven Discourse Analysis of Transcripts of Hugo Chávez's Television Programme “Aló Presidente”’, unpubl. PhD diss., University of Birmingham, 2010, p. 404, available at http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/731/1/Smith10PhD_A1a.pdf.

90 Aponte, ‘Metaphors in Hugo Chávez's Political Discourse’, pp. 134–5; Zúquete, ‘The Missionary Politics of Hugo Chávez’, p. 116 n. 1.

91 Bolívar, Adriana, ‘Nuevos géneros discursivos en la política: el caso de Aló Presidente’, in Berardi, Leda (ed.), Análisis crítico del discurso: perspectivas latinoamericanas (Providencia: Frasis Editores, 2003), pp. 101–30.

92 Smith, ‘A Corpus-Driven Discourse Analysis’, p. 150.

93 Ibid., p. 151.

94 Guillermoprieto, ‘Don't Cry for Me, Venezuela’.

95 No. 197, p. 61.

96 Ciria, Política y cultura popular, pp. 302–11; Levine, Father of the Poor?, p. 61.

97 No. 59, p. 9.

98 No. 100, p. 26.

99 Levine, Father of the Poor?, p. 61.

100 Rose, One of the Forgotten Things, p. 82.

101 Del Barco, El régimen peronista, p. 75.

102 De la Torre, ‘Neopopulism in Contemporary Ecuador’, p. 560.

103 No. 312, p. 73.

105 No. 200, p. 17.

106 No. 94, p. 1.

107 No. 301, pp. 35–53.

108 Bolívar, ‘Nuevos géneros discursivos en la política’, p. 124.

109 Colette, Capriles, ‘La enciclopedia del chavismo o hacia una teología del populismo’, Revista Venezolana de Ciencia Política, 29 (2006), p. 75.

110 No. 39, p. 1.

111 ‘I fell in love with you, and I chase you everywhere’, said a female caller during one broadcast (no. 108, p. 8); ‘I admire you and love you; with my husband's permission, I love you’, declared another (no. 211, p. 67). See Gott, Richard, Hugo Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution (New York: Verso, 2005), p. 6.

112 Respectively, no. 199, p. 5; no. 66, p. 9; no. 13, p. 15; no. 32, pp. 13–14; no. 1, p. 2.

113 E.g., no. 100, p. 26.

114 No. 101, pp. 118–20.

115 No. 249, p. 66.

116 No. 306, p. 34.

117 No. 331, p. 48.

118 No. 111, p. 7.

119 No. 40, pp. 71–2.

120 No. 155, p. 20.

121 No. 177, p. 7; no. 232, p. 19; no. 245, p. 22.

122 No. 271, p. 27.

123 No. 134, p. 11.

124 No. 294, p. 32.

125 No. 5, p. 13.

126 No. 45, p. 42. Chávez was fascinated by helicopters. He utters the word ‘helicopter’ in about three-quarters of the transcripts. Possibly he took his helicopter to be a symbol of his authority, as well as a tool for overseeing the revolution. He was particularly enamoured of the image of himself vigilantly flying over his country in a helicopter, a ‘flying horse’ (no. 244, p. 49): ‘It is not the same looking at the map … as flying over the country in a helicopter’ (no. 99, p. 16). And he was always ready to swoop down when needed to combat laziness and corruption: ‘Sometimes I show up with no warning, and they start running around: “There's a helicopter, who is it?” And then I get off: “Oh, it's the president!”’ (no. 30, p. 46).

127 No. 109, pp. 38–9.

128 No. 288, p. 36; no. 244, p. 16.

129 In one instance Chávez urged an eight-year-old boy to tell the audience about his day at one of the Bolivarian schools, which were at the core of Chávez's education programme. The boy mentioned that some days the school had no breakfast to serve the children, even though school meals were promised as part of the programme. Chávez, taken aback, blamed the food shortages on the opposition's coup attempts of the previous year (no. 150, pp. 16–18).

130 Bolívar, ‘“Democracia” y “revolución” en Venezuela’, p. 36.

131 No. 200, p. 10.

132 No. 164, p. 43.

133 No. 255, p. 51.

134 No. 301, p. 66.

135 No. 221, p. 19.

136 No. 99, pp. 41–2.

137 No. 47, p. 24.

138 No. 200, p. 16.

139 No. 13, p. 61.

140 No. 148, p. 18.

141 No. 264, p. 82; see also no. 325, pp. 79–80.

142 No. 311, p. 100.

143 No. 60, pp. 84–5.

144 No. 255, p. 52.

145 No. 210, pp. 2–10.

146 No. 258, pp. 11–13.

147 No. 241, pp. 52–62.

148 No. 241, pp. 62–3.

149 No. 114, p. 69.

150 No. 213, p. 43.

151 No. 270, p. 23.

152 No. 293, p. 34. This, too, sometimes produced unfortunate results, as when Chávez berated a cameraman live on the air: ‘We have nature. We are surrounded by fertile land. Focus on the fertile land. Look! I'm talking about fertile land and you focus on the gas pipes. Look! There! Beyond the pipes. Look! If you can zoom in, over there, you can go in. Look for a snake I saw earlier. You can look for it, compadre. Look for it, look for it! The cameramen need to be more ready. I thank them for their work, but they need to do more’ (no. 294, p. 19).

153 Molina, José E., ‘The Unraveling of Venezuela's Party System’, in McCoy, Jennifer and Meyers, David (eds.), The Unraveling of Representative Democracy in Venezuela (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004), p. 168.

* The author would like to thank the three anonymous reviewers and the editors of the JLAS for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper.

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