Saturday, November 3, 2012

Fact Checking the Romney Campaign's Chávez For Obama Ad

President Barack Obama and Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez

The Chavez for Obama political advertisement released by the Romney Campaign links together Hugo Chavez, Mariela Castro, and the image of Che Guevara in a thirty second spot which states the following (translation below courtesy of The Miami Herald):

NARRATOR: Who supports Barack Obama?
CHAVEZ: “If I were American, I’d vote for Obama.”
NARRATOR: Raúl Castro’s daughter, Mariela Castro, would vote for Obama.
CASTRO: “I would vote for President Obama.”
NARRATOR: And to top it off, Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency sent e-mails for Hispanic Heritage month with a photo of Che Guevara.
CHAVEZ: “If Obama were from Barlovento (a Venezuelan town), he’d vote for Chávez.”
ROMNEY: I’m Mitt Romney, and I approve this message.
Below is the actual advertisement:

Supporters of the President have attacked it and the media has reported on the debate over the advertisement describing its content as controversial and incendiary, but the question remains, is it accurate? Is it true?

Three claims are made:

1) Hugo Chavez would vote for Obama if he were an American citizen.

Reuters reported on September 30, 2012 that Hugo Chavez had endorsed President Obama quoting the Venezuelan strongman saying: "I hope this doesn't harm Obama, but if I was from the United States, I'd vote for Obama,"  ... "Obama is a good guy ... I think that if Obama was from Barlovento or some Caracas neighborhood, he'd vote for Chavez". The video in the advert does not represent or take out of context what Hugo Chavez is saying. The claim is accurate and true.

2) Raul Castro's daughter, Mariela Castro said as a citizen of the world she would vote for Obama.

In an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour on June 4, 2012, Mariela Castro: "As a citizen of the world, I would like him to win," Castro told CNN's Christiane Amanpour in an interview set to air Monday. "Seeing the candidates, I prefer Obama." ... "If Obama counted on the full support of the American people, then we can normalize the relationships; we can have better relations than what we had under President Carter". The claim is accurate and true.

3)  President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent e-mails for Hispanic Heritage month with a photo of Che Guevara.

The Washington Post reported on September 14, 2012 that the EPA sent an e-mail out that "contained passages about Hispanic culture apparently copied word-for-word from And as icing on the oopsie-cake, it also featured a photo of a horse and buggy — no doubt meant to illustrate the picturesque elements of the culture — passing a painted billboard of Che Guevara." It was widely covered in the media. The claim is accurate and true.

The claims made in the advertisement are accurate and not taken out of context. It is not the advertisement that is incendiary or controversial but the affinity of a authoritarian despot, and the daughter of a dictator for President Obama and EPA circulating an image of Che Guevara, a mass murdering advocate for totalitarian dictatorship and a symbol for violent political action. 

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