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Opinion

Latins say it loud in press blasts

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You're a populist left-wing politician in South America. Your country's elite doesn't like you, and Wall Street is scathing. Your reputation could do with a bit of help. What do you do? Why, take out an advertisement in the New York press, of course. The trend started in July, when an advert appeared in the New York Times. "Argentina," it blared: "A responsible country, a responsible proposal". A list of the great and the good followed, attesting to Argentina's "sincere and realistic proposal to creditors" (see Argentina's creditors brace for lowball offer). U2's Bono, Mikhail Gorbachev and actors Emma Thompson and Viggo Mortensen were prominent.

The ad was clearly a success. The next month, after the victory by Venezuela's president Hugo Chávez in a recall referendum, the New Yorker ran an ad, paid for by the Venezuelan embassy. "In the past, Venezuela's oil wealth benefited a few," it gushed: "Today, it benefits a few million."

It seems that running ads is more effective than turning up at political shindigs: former Peruvian president Alan García was a special guest at the Democratic National Convention in Boston but no-one seemed to notice.

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