Jim Wyss was detained in San Cristobal, Venezuela, in 2013. You can imagine his confusion when he spotted a picture that was taken of him at Miami International Airport on a Venezuelan tourism campaign.
The hash tag "We love Venezuela" campaign purports that the South American country "welcomes foreigners as one of their own." But his visit was far from welcoming.
"I was wearing a bulletproof vest, lying flat in the backseat of an unmarked armored car and being escorted by three heavily armed men when I started to worry," Wyss said as he described his experience in a Miami Herald article, after his release.
The National Guard detained him and didn't tell the Miami Herald why. Nor did President Nicolas Maduro, an outspoken critic of the U.S., mention the case. Eventually they handed him over to U.S. Embassy officials.
So when the new advertisement tourism campaign showed him smiling, Wyss wrote on Friday: "The reason I'm so happy is because I'm just getting back to the U.S. after spending 48 hours in detention in Venezuela."
The Miami Herald's Andean bureau chief was in San Cristobal to report on municipal elections -- which were taking place amid an economic crisis marked by shortages of staples such as toilet paper.
At the time Maduro was accusing right-wing agitators and the U.S. government of waging an "economic war" to destabilize his government. However, economists were reporting that only scrapping the decade-old controls imposed by the late Hugo Chavez could curb the sharp slide in the currency's value on the black market.
The TeleSUR TV television network's tourism advertisement was partially right in that Venezuelan journalists also encountered harassment while reporting on the crisis. La Nueva Televisora del Sur, the owner of TeleSUR, is a public company that gets about 50 percent of its funding from the Venezuelan government.
Claudio Paolillo, chairman of a press freedom committee at the Inter American Press Association, said in 2013 he was bewildered by Wyss' detention, calling it a "new demonstration of intolerance by a regime that day after day shows its contempt for the work of journalists."
TeleSUR TV eventually removed Wyss' photo from their website. But they continued an awkward campaign, with social media shares such as a YouTube video titled "We Love Venezuela Because Its People Wake Up Everyday With A Smile." Except perhaps for Mary Noriega, a laboratory assistant who recently told The New York Times' William Neuman that she hated when soldiers herded her "like cattle," while she waited in a line of more than 1,500 people hoping to get groceries in Caracas.