The Disapproval Matrix


In this week's issue of New York magazine, the always enjoyable "Approval Matrix" places the following item in the top left corner of its axis of cool and uncool (the "Highbrow/Despicable" region): "Political repression by Hugo Chavez, as detailed in the New York Review of Books." Political repression in Chavez's Venezuela is well-documented, and goes back to his earliest days as the country's president. I'm not entirely sure if New York thinks this is a new story, but the NYRB piece, written by two members of Human Rights Watch, is indeed worth reading. A sample:

On September 18, we released a report in Caracas that shows how President Hugo Chávez has undermined human rights guarantees in Venezuela. That night, we returned to our hotel and found around twenty Venezuelan security agents, some armed and in military uniform, awaiting us outside our rooms. They were accompanied by a man who announced-with no apparent sense of irony-that he was a government "human rights" official and that we were being expelled from the country.

With government cameramen filming over his shoulder, the official did his best to act as if he were merely upholding the law. When we said we needed to gather our belongings, he calmly told us not to worry, his men had already entered our rooms and "packed" our bags.

In other Bolivarian news, Chavez has threatened to arrest opposition leader Manuel Rosales, who is running for mayor Maracaibo, in the province of Zulia:

"I am determined to put Manuel Rosales behind bars. A swine like that has to be in prison," Chavez said.

Chavez railed against Rosales at a gathering of businessmen in Zulia, urging the audience to vote against his rival for allegedly plotting to assassinate him, running crime gangs and illegally acquiring cattle ranches.

Chavez provided no specific evidence for the charges against the main leader of a fragmented opposition who has solid support in the oil-producing west of the OPEC nation.

More reason on Hugo Chavez here.