Hugo Chavez Loved Baseball and the South Bronx, NY Times Gushes

While even the left-wing outlet ThinkProgress finds it necessary to discourage fellow Democrats from eulogizing Hugo Chavez, propaganda for the late dictator keeps popping up in strange places in the New York Times.

Thursday brought a couple of oddly placed propaganda pieces for the late left-wing strongman of Venezuela. In Thursday's Metro story "In the Bronx, Memories Of Chavez And His Aid – Cash and Oil Flowed After a Visit in 2005," reporter Frances Robles took a trip down leftist memory lane, when Chavez showered the South Bronx with (Venezuelan) government money.

Lucia Solano became something of a stalker when Hugo Chávez visited the South Bronx in 2005.

Ms. Solano’s organization, Servicio Basico Educativo, was $18,000 behind in rent and faced eviction. Mr. Chávez, she was sure, could help. He was the controversial leftist president of Venezuela who was in town for a United Nations General Assembly meeting and seemed to be developing a soft spot for the South Bronx.

“I was following him,” Ms. Solano recalled, recounting the three events she attended for a chance to approach Mr. Chávez. “I finally was able to ask him for assistance, and he said, ‘I am not a God.’ I told him I knew he was not a God, but that I had a good cause.”

Not long after the visit, Ms. Solano received a check to cover the back rent.

The contribution became the first of millions of dollars in charitable giving that would signify Mr. Chávez’s legacy in the South Bronx, a neighborhood filled with the kind of poor and working-class residents whose struggles struck a chord with the fiery populist leader. The memories of Mr. Chávez’s visit and his link to New York were recalled on Wednesday, the day after he died at 58.

Robles painted a charismatic caudillo indeed: "Mr. Chávez stopped to chat with neighborhood advocates one by one, several people recalled, impressing everyone with his uncanny ability to recall obscure historical facts about each person’s home country."

Out of that visit was born a community-relations program that would donate $5 million to grass-roots groups in the South Bronx, paying for a variety of projects, including the restoration of the Bronx River, after-school classes, literacy programs and food cooperatives.

After briefly noting that the program was "now in tatters" and that Chavez himself "was not without its critics...accused of making bold and illegal moves to consolidate power," Robles resumed the airbrushing of the despot's final portrait.

Mr. Chávez was perhaps remembered most fondly in the Bronx for the gallons of heating oil that began arriving about two months after his trip.

Citgo has donated seven million gallons to the Bronx in the eight years since the program started, according to Citizens Energy, the Boston organization that manages the project.

Taking another local angle, Thursday's Sports section ran Ken Belson's "A Team Recalls Chavez's Love of the Game." The story, which recalled fawning articles on Cuban dictator (and Chavez ally) Fidel Castro's love of baseball, got into the country's economic woes and high crime but still came off as supportive of the baseball-loving Chavez.