Jesse Jackson visits Caracas; blood runs in the streets


Jesse Jackson's traveling circus reportedly flew to Caracas yesterday  for a grandstanding visit with Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez. The announced visit came in the wake of ill—considered remarks from televangelist Pat Robertson who declared that the U.S. ought to try to assassinate Chavez. Jackson went there to show Chavez he's a 'man of peace and goodwill' and probably wanted to curry favor with him, given the opportunity presented by Robertson. And what better way to look good for his U.S. domestic constituents than to be seen in an abrazo embrace with telegenic Hugo Chavez?

But a funny thing happened on the way to Caracas: Blood ran in the streets. A peaceful march of Venezuela's democratic opposition was ambushed by the Venezuelan dictator's goons. Demonstrating with a legal permit, these protestors, mostly women, had been seeking redress for political prisoners held in Chavez's dungeons.
The many photographs from the incident are bloody enough that Reuters calls it the most serious violence in months.
Given the timing, Jackson seems to have gone to Caracas to take a shot at Robertson over the 'assassination' remark, puff himself up in self—righteousness, and give Chavez a veneer of respectability. Amid all the tears and flapdoodle about sin and forgiveness, what Jackson neglected to consider is that Hugo Chavez is in fact a brutal dictator — and acts as one. While Jackson was cordially meeting Chavez, an attempted massacre was going on outside.
Is Jackson going to speak out about what happened on his own visit? Or is he going to be silent about Chavez and hope no one notices the blood in the street?
Jackson's got a public relations problem right now A big one.

A.M. Mora y Leon 08 28 05

Update: Aleksander at  raises questions about press coverage.