If Pres. Obama doesn’t get it, Hugo Chavez surely does. Imagery is important. A picture really is worth a thousand words. It’s apparent that his lack of experience with international affairs is a problem, so is his staff because they too are apparently inexperienced in the importance of staging.
So what does a picture of the President of the United States shaking hands with the “would-be dictator” of Venezuela do? According to Otto Reich, former Ambassador to Venezuela in the NewsMax article “Otto Reich: Obama’s Encounter With Chavez Damaged U.S. Foreign Policy” by Jim Meyers:
- “You don’t go around slapping the back of a foreign dictator, a would-be dictator in the case of Chavez, who has done everything in his power to undermine U.S. interests in the region and who calls himself an enemy of the United States.”
Martella asked whether people will “misinterpret” those photos.
Reich responded that the pictures certainly are being misinterpreted in Venezuela “despite what President Obama wishes. I think he probably realizes now that he made a mistake.
“But in Venezuela Hugo Chavez said last night this is the greatest triumph in Venezuelan diplomacy ever. Because what he is trying to do is to portray this as an endorsement of his policies, which is calls 21st century socialism but which is really just retread 20th-century fascism.”
Chavez is seeking to “portray this warm handshake, and a slap on the back which came later, as an endorsement of Chavez, which I’m sure President Obama did not intend,” Reich said.
“That is the way it is being portrayed not only in Venezuela but in the rest of the continent, all of Latin America.”
Martella referred to photos of Chavez giving Obama an anti-American book entitled “Open Veins of Latin America,” which Obama accepted and posed with for the cameras, and asked whether that was a mistake on Obama’s part.
“Absolutely it was a mistake,” Reich declared.
“It was also frankly a mistake by the staff. They should have prevented that.