Detained Reporter Becomes Unlikely Star Of Venezuela Tourism Ad
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
A lesson now in how not to run a tourism campaign. Venezuela is one of the world's most violent places. It's also facing an economic crisis, so it's been trying to better its image.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
Last week, the state-run TV station TeleSUR posted on its website a picture of a smiling man getting a big hug - next to the photo, the words, amamos a Venezuela. Translation - we love Venezuela.
CORNISH: The ad also proclaims that Venezuela welcomes foreigners like one of its own. As soon as it was posted, Jim Wyss started getting e-mails from friends. He was the smiling guy.
JIM WYSS: First of all, the picture wasn't taken in Venezuela. It was taken in Miami. And it was taken after I had been detained in Venezuela for about 48 hours.
SIEGEL: Wyss is South America reporter for The Miami Herald. He was detained in 2013, so he was smiling because he had left.
WYSS: It was free room and board. I would not recommend it as a tourism experience.
CORNISH: The ad has been pulled. TeleSUR has not responded to our request for comment. Jim Wyss says his short time as a poster boy was actually amusing.
WYSS: People keep asking me if I'm angry, and there's really no harm done. I thought it was absolutely hilarious. I'm hoping it means that somebody in TeleSUR had, like, a really wicked sense of humor.
SIEGEL: But more likely, he says, it was a mistake. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.