"Edward Snowden is heading to Venezuela? Seriously? "
Well, he hardly has a vast array of choices. I'm sure he would like to go to Iceland or Switzerland etc, but those countries are not available.
"We can be heard talking about the international anti-Chavez demonstrations, and how we thought they hadn’t been successful. I compared them to the much larger ones for democracy in Iran that I attended in DC. "
I should imagine that after the coup attempt in 2002 (likely US-backed) in which a number of civilians died, they are quite paranoid about US plots. Of course, that's no excuse, but if Venezuela is indeed just monitoring politicians and US calls, then it is already far less intrusive than the NSA's monitoring.
The US (and the largely privately funded Venezuelan media) certainly tried to paint Chavez as a dictator despite his democratic election and widespread support. Venezuelan elections have been conducted under international monitoring. In fact Jimmy Carter had this to say
"of the 92 elections that we've monitored, I would say the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world."
Also Chavez made it possible to remove elected officials part way through their terms, which I think increased the level of democracy compared to many nations. Certainly there has been polarization of opinion in Venezuela, and it is quite clear in which camp you fall. Part of the reason for such polarisation is that Venezuela has a very wide gap between the rich and poor, which is something Chavez really tried to address.
"His editorializing comments misconstrued what was in the recording."
I'm sure. Journalists do like to pick and chose facts to paint the picture they want.
"The government has used "evidence" gathered by reporters on this show to accuse opposition leaders."
So this may be a case of journalists using private investigators to bug people rather than nationwide monitoring. Even so, I can certainly imagine the Venezuelan government bugging such calls. Can you imagine how crazy the surveillance in the US would get if there had been a foreign-backed coup against the government?
Imagine if the US media were as involved in the coup as the Venezuelan media were involved in the coup there. I wonder how many US journalists would be languishing in prison.
"They read our words aloud, mocking us by reading them in the nasal accents associated with the "sifrinos" and "escualidos." They made us out to be ridiculous and snobbish, which is how the government wanted to brand the ever-growing opposition to populist president Chavez. "
The media in Venezuela is generally pretty crazy, even by Fox news standards. The anti-Chavez media were calling him a criminal, insane etc on a daily basis. This seems to be an equally nasty backlash.