Late last week, the Venezuelan government detained Timothy Tracy, a 35-year-old American filmmaker, on charges of attempting to foment unrest in Venezuela following its contested April 14 presidential election. Given the Venezuelan government's long history of lobbing absurd accusations at the United States -- most recently alleging that American "imperialists" had infected the late Hugo Chávez with cancer -- Tracy's arrest carries a whiff of Chávez-era paranoia, and a hint of cold political calculation to direct deep dissatisfaction over the election result at Venezuela's primary political enemy: the United States. Tracy was arrested at the airport trying to leave the country.
So who is Timothy Tracy? The New York Times describes him as a somewhat naive Hollywood producer with only rudimentary Spanish and no knowledge of Venezuela who was working on a documentary about the country's political divisions. "He seemed like a man on a lark," the Times writes. According to his LinkedIn profile, Tracy graduated from Phillips Academy Andover, the prestigious New England prep school, and Georgetown before taking on a series of producing gigs in Los Angeles.
What's particularly baffling about the case is that Tracy's film and television experience is far from what one would expect from a documentary filmmaker exploring one of the world's most dangerous countries.
Tracy describes himself as the creator and producer of Madhouse, a History Channel show about stock car racing in North Carolina. Check out the trailer below, which appears to be something of a parody of the American South and NASCAR culture.
He also claims to have served as a production manager on Poliwood, a documentary about the intersection of American politics and Hollywood:
And he served as a co-producer and story consultant on American Harmony, a documentary about a barber shop singing competition. It looks as delightfully bad as you'd expect:
Not exactly the credits you'd expect from someone the Venezuelan government insists -- with no proof so far -- is a spy.