Illustration for article titled Oops! Venezuela publishes photo of freed American detainee in tourism promotion ad

Venezuela can’t even buy itself good PR these days.

An ill-conceived tourism promotion spot published Thursday evening by Venezuelan state TV Telesur was quickly scrubbed from the internet Friday morning when somebody somewhere, slapping palm to forehead, realized that the smiling gringo featured in the ad was not a U.S. tourist celebrating his arrival in Venezuela, rather a U.S. journalist celebrating his release from Venezuela after being detained by the military for 48 hours in 2013.


Miami Herald journalist Jim Wyss, who was nabbed by the Venezuelan military and detained for 48 hours in late 2013, was surprised last night to see his beaming face featured on a new Venezuelan tourism promotion ad with the words: “We love Venezuela, because it receives foreigners as it they were its own.”


While there may be some ironic truth to that message, the greatest irony in the ad was that the picture was actually taken in Miami International Airport, following Wyss’ safe release from Venezuela. The woman in the photo wasn’t his girlfriend, rather a coworker from the Miami Herald, who — incidentally — isn’t Venezuelan.

The real photo, taken the by Miami Herald
The real photo, taken by The Miami Herald

“The whole thing is hilarious,” Wyss told Fusion this morning in a phone interview from Colombia. “I thought, either this was a bad accident or someone has a wicked sense of humor.”

Turns out it was the former, and the ad was quickly removed from Telesur’s social media accounts this morning.


A more accurate caption for the photo? Visit Venezuela, Wyss says, “We’ll give you 48 hours of free room and board.”

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