It is the interview that continues to generate news. On February 25, 2019, veteran University of Univisión news anchor Jorge Ramos sat for an interview with Nicolas Maduro.. As expected, tension reigned between them.
The interview lasted only 17 minutes. It ended all of a sudden when Ramos showed his tablet pictures of three men searching for food in a trash can near Miraflores Palace in Caracas. Maduro wanted to cover the photos with his hand and withdrew. immediately, The Mexican journalist and his team were arrested and their tools for work, including the card on which the interview was recorded, were confiscated.Next day, to be deported to the United States. Their arrival in the country they are residing in raised the headlines.
But the interview became relevant again months later Univision They recovered the photos they thought were lost. Ramos explains the appearance of the video as “a betrayal of the dictator’s environment,” without giving further details (perhaps for the safety of those who helped him).
Today, more than two years later, that meeting with the leader of the failed Bolivarian revolution is again in the news because Ramos decided to publish a book about him.
The first thing to understand from this book is that other than telling what happened in Caracas in 2019, this is a story that can be considered a clue about how to speak to a dictator.
In the appendix to the book, or in Chapter Thirteen, Ramos defines journalism as “the counterforce.”
We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, not the victim. Silence motivates the tormentor not the tormentor. Ramos sometimes says in his book, “We have to intervene,” departing from the old principle that has practically fallen into disuse, suggesting that journalism must always be neutral.
There is no false neutrality hidden behind the first question with which Ramos decided to start his interview with Nicolas Maduro.
“As an interviewer, my main concern was to avoid having a soft and tolerant interview with anyone responsible for fraud and fatalities.” Ramos said in an entire chapter devoted to talking about how the interview began: “It will not be good journalism and I will never forgive myself. There he tells that he prepared this question and that it is. He decided to bring it up after lengthy conversations with the news chief UnivisionDaniel Coronel. We asked the question: In short, to the point that we knew it would harm her. So it was: ‘You are not the legitimate president. So what do I call her? For them you are a dictator.
Ramos knew the answer. He was denouncing the dictatorship in Venezuela years ago from Miami. What was not understood was why a dictator who did not usually give interviews agreed to sit for half an hour in front of Ramos.
For one thing, it was a matter of context. By February 2019, the Venezuelan opposition had not recognized the legitimacy of the 2018 elections and Juan Guaidó was declared interim president of the country as president of the National Assembly. Fifty countries in the world have recognized Guaidó as the legitimate leader of Venezuela. Maduro had to clean up his image and went out to speak to the foreign press.
But then again, with so many left-wing journalists in the world who could have been more benevolent towards Maduro, why would Jorge Ramos?
“Strong men do not speak (…) if they have something to communicate with, it is sufficient to use the media in the service of the state – and all others under their control – to send the message, without criticism and without anyone questioning it. But they know deep down that they lack something: Credibility The only way their communication can be credible is if they speak through an independent medium, with a critical journalist or, at least, neutral, as the author points out.
In those days, Ramos had made the news because he was fired from a White House press conference after a long question in which he told then-President Donald Trump that his policy was anti-Latin. Ramos believes that Maduro’s environment must have believed that “if he is not a supporter of Trump, then he should be a friend of Bolivarian Venezuela.”.
Trump has his own section in the book. Ramos gives his view on the situation in Venezuela and says that Trump’s policy was “hypocritical and false”, because it “made Venezuelans believe that the famous phrase” all options are on the table “means that the United States, which was contemplating armed intervention in his country, when he did not have Plan. ” In the book, Ramos makes it clear that he believes the United States should not enter Venezuela.
Toward the end of the book, Ramos tells of another interview he gave that somehow answered the initial question he posed to Maduro at the failed meeting. In March 2019, back in Miami, the Mexican gave an interview to Juan Guaidó via Skype. He decided to start by also asking him what he was calling since the dictatorship had insisted that Guaidó had declared himself president.
“The president is responsible for Venezuela under a constitutional mandate,” he told me. Then he gave me the explanation. Article 233 of the Constitution stipulates that in the event of the absolute absence of the President of the Republic (…), the President of the National Assembly shall be responsible for the presidency of the Republic. The presidency of Venezuela was officially vacated after Maduro’s massive electoral fraud in May 2018 and his usurpation of power in January 2019, Ramos explains.
“17 Minutes with the Dictator” is the fourteenth book published by journalist Jorge Ramos, who has completed 35 years on the Univisión TV network.