On Wednesday, the New York Times's Caracas-based reporter Simon Romero drew a favorable sketch of two anti-American strongmen, Cuba’s Communist dictator Fidel Castro and leftist autocrat and ideological sibling Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, in “Venezuelan, Like Castro, Has Brother At the Ready.”
Romero led off with left-wing flattery of the two nations:
To the many comparisons that can been made between Venezuela and Cuba -- two close allies, both infused with revolutionary zeal, driven by movements that revere their leaders -- consider one more: the presidential brother, stepping in during a time of illness.
Nothing of the love those country's leaders share for authoritarian rule and imprisoning their political opponents? Romero also went easy on the Communist Party's absolute authoritarian rule, calling it merely "unrivaled authority."
Still, no one in the government, including Adán Chávez, has displayed the president’s visceral ability to connect with poor Venezuelans. That may not have mattered too much in Cuba, where the Communist Party holds unrivaled authority over the nation’s political system. But if Hugo Chávez is unable to quickly return to power in Venezuela, it remains to be seen how effectively his brother can hold off the spirited, if divided, opposition here and build support in a governing movement so centered around the president himself.
Even the story's text box was flattering to the "charismatic" Chavez when describing his brother Adan, who wields power with Hugo now hospitalized in Cuba after emergency surgery: “Perhaps a bit less charismatic, but devoted and loyal.”
In June 2010, the Times's most left-wing movie critic Stephen Holden held Chavez (subject of an Oliver Stone documentary) up as a humorous, "good-hearted man of the people."