Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Blimp over Caracas

Venezuela launches Zeppelin to tackle rampant climb.


Around the hot-dog stalls of the run-down suburb where the airship took its first flight, most people felt the unmanned eye-in-the-sky could help counter routine hold-ups, shootings and carjackings.

"It is a necessity," said street vendor Pedro Marin when asked about the 15-meter helium-filled blimp that had been looming silently over his stall beside a busy highway.


In the refined cafes of east Caracas, there was more cynicism, condemning the blimps as a waste of money that would not work in bad weather or at night, when Caracas is at its most risky, resembling a shuttered-up ghost town.

"It reminds me of 1984, of George Orwell. This is Big Brother. It is not going to solve crime," said Jose Luis, a lawyer who declined to give his family name.

Is this not the story of the American media's handling of Venezuela and Hugo Chávez? Many people--workers, mainly (and often more codedly embodied as the distasteful brown tide of humanity)--support Chávez, but there's always an articulate opposition mentioned very prominently in stories like these, an opposition coded in the US media as being the sterling conscience, the cautious allies of freedom, whose misgivings about government policy are to mirror our own. We must believe them, see, because they are educated people (like a lawyer who alludes to Orwell) who refuse to give a surname because the leftist government might harm them for their exercise of speech.