Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Press Freedom In Venezuela

spite the many advances we have witnessed among countries in our region, democracy is still threatened in the Western Hemisphere.

Authorities cannot let political concerns undermine the freedom of expression.
Despite the many advances we have witnessed among countries in our region, democracy is still threatened in the Western Hemisphere. The rights of free speech, a free press and individual expression are essential to the functioning of our institutional democracies. Nevertheless, authorities in Venezuela have recently taken actions against press critics and others who engage in peaceful dissent.

The arrest of the owner of a local television channel for allegedly making offensive remarks toward the Venezuelan government sends a strong message that citizens there are not free to express their opinions and engage in an open dialogue. Without that freedom, all other rights are in jeopardy. Freedom of speech and freedom of the press must be respected for all individuals and media organizations, regardless of their political philosophies.

It is easy to look at anyone who criticizes you as being out of bounds, but authorities cannot let political concerns undermine the freedom of expression. In the end, whoever is elected needs constructive criticism.

It also is the responsibility of democratic countries to expose attacks on democratic principles wherever they may occur. In so doing, they ensure that future generations will enjoy the same rights that we demand for ourselves. Along with Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the Inter-American Human Rights Commission, the United States has expressed its concerns about the willingness of the Venezuelan government to honor its commitment under the Inter-American Democratic Charter to uphold this principle.

In this regard, it is also hoped that the Organization of American States will enforce the charter within the hemisphere to protect democratic principles and individual liberties.

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Is silence consent? The Obama administrations engagement policy is convenient for Hugo Chavez's lates crackdown

“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people- but the silence over that by the good people.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. (American Baptist Minister and Civil-Rights Leader. 1929-1968)
Is Silence Consent? The Obama administration's 'engagement' policy is convenient for Hugo Chávez's latest crackdown.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

WHILE THE United States and Venezuela's neighbors silently stand by, Hugo Chávez's campaign to destroy his remaining domestic opposition continues. On Thursday night state intelligence police raided the Caracas offices of Guillermo Zuloaga, the president of the country's last independent broadcast network, Globovision. They claimed to be looking for evidence of irregularities in the car dealership that Mr. Zuloaga also runs. In fact this was a thinly disguised escalation of an attack that Mr. Chávez launched this month against Globovision. The channel has been officially accused of "inciting panic," based on its accurate reporting of a mild May 4 earthquake in Caracas; under the regime's draconian media control law it could be shut down. Few doubt that that is Mr. Chávez's intent: Two years ago he revoked the license of the country's most popular television network after a similarly trumped-up campaign.

To recap: In February Mr. Chávez eliminated the limit on his tenure as president after a one-sided referendum campaign that included ugly attacks on Venezuela's Jewish community. Since then he has imprisoned or orchestrated investigations against most of the country's leading opposition figures, including three of the five opposition governors elected last year. The elected mayor of Maracaibo, who was the leading opposition candidate when Mr. Chávez last ran for president, was granted asylum in Peru last month after authorities sought his arrest on dubious tax charges. The National Assembly, controlled by Mr. Chávez, is considering legislation that would eliminate collective bargaining and replace independent trade unions with "worker's councils" controlled by the ruling party. Another new law would eliminate foreign financing for independent non-government groups.

This is hardly the first time that a Latin American caudillo has tried to eliminate peaceful opponents: Mr. Chávez is following a path well worn by the likes of Juan Perón and Alberto Fujimori -- not to mention his mentor, Fidel Castro. But this may be the first time that the United States has watched the systematic destruction of a Latin American democracy in silence. As Mr. Chávez has implemented the "third phase" of his self-styled revolution, the Obama administration has persisted with the policy of quiet engagement that the president promised before taking office.

"We need to find a space in which we can actually have a conversation, and we need to find ways to enhance our levels of confidence," Assistant Secretary of State Thomas A. Shannon Jr. said two weeks ago, echoing earlier remarks by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. We have no objection to dialogue with Mr. Chávez. But isn't it time to start talking about preserving independent television stations, opposition political leaders, trade unions and human rights groups -- before it is too late?

© 2009 The Washington Post Company

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Hugo Chavez threatens to take opposition TV station off air

What is happening in Venezuela is sad....... and there are few International institutions saying anything against the Venezuelan Government (Hugo Chavez) abuse, specially the OAS which was the reason that institution was founded.
Anyway, we the Venezuelans should be proud to have this TV station Globovision that has defended bravely our Venezuelans constitution rights.
vdebate reporter.
Federico Ravell - President of Globovision

President Hugo Chavez has threatened to take Venezuela's last major opposition-run television station off the air.

By Jeremy McDermott, Latin America Correspondent

The latest move to undermine opponents of the Leftist leader was made amid a frenetic campaign to seize control of privately held businesses, with his government running short of funds due to the fall in world oil prices.
Nicolas Maduro, the president of the Mr Chavez's United Socialist Party of Venezuela, accused the 24-hour news channel Globovision of "media terrorism", describing the station and its director, Alberto Ravell, as "violators of the constitution and of the rights of Venezuelans" as well as being "anti-democratic, failed and fascist".
The allegations are denied by the station. Mr Ravell said that the government investigation was "laughable" and meant to intimidate the media.
The government has already refused to renew the licence of one opposition media network.
The attack on the independent media is just the latest sign that Mr Chavez's democratically elected government is turning ever more authoritarian as it seeks to sustain its generous social programmes and aggressive foreign policy.
On Friday Mr Chavez sent troops to seize the operations of foreign-owned oil service companies, tightening his grip on the industry as low crude prices pinch the Opec nation's finances.
"We have started to nationalise all these activities connected to oil exploitation," he said from on board a confiscated boat. "This is a revolutionary offensive."
Human rights groups and political think tanks are also under assault, with the national assembly, which is controlled by Chavez loyalists, due to pass legislation aimed at controlling their finances.
Under the new law, all funding will pass through a central account managed by the government.
The director of perhaps the most outspoken opposition organisation, Sumate, said that the measure was an attempt to shut down government critics.
"This is a mechanism to silence voices that have great credibility within and outside the country," said Mari­a Corina Machado.
Mr Chavez's leading political opponent, Manuel Rosales, who challenged him for the presidency in 2006, has meanwhile fled to Peru where he has been granted asylum, after being charged with corruption at home.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Director of news channel: "We are a pain in Chávez's neck"

Director of news channel: "We are a pain in Chávez's neck"
Alberto Federico Ravell

"I do think that Globovisión faces the risk to be closed. (President Hugo) Chávez has insisted that he is ready to do so (...) We know that we are a pain in Chávez's neck because we are the only channel with an open signal that tells truths. But we are not a political party. Our mission is to inform people."
Without mentioning his name, Hugo Chávez called the director of Globovisión "a crazy man with a cannon"
President Hugo Chávez's threats against the private TV news channel Globovisión "must be taken seriously" because "there is a risk that the government closes our TV channel," said Alberto Federico Ravell, the director of the TV network, who believes that his only sin is "to inform without flattering" the regime. "I do consider that Globovisión faces the risk to be closed. Chávez has insisted that he is willing to do so. I think that there is an ongoing legal proceeding and that the President is very upset with his staff because they did not react in time to settle the issue," Ravell said in an interview with AFP. Last Sunday, Chávez blamed local private radio and TV stations of "inciting hatred" and "manipulating" the news. He recalled that the government has the power to renew broadcasters' licenses to use public airwaves. Without mentioning his name, Chávez called the director of Globovisión "a crazy man with a cannon." "I am neither a mad man, nor a conspirator nor an assassin," Ravell said. "We know that we are a pain in Chávez's neck and in the government's neck because we are the only channel with an open signal that tells truths. But we are not a political party. Our mission is to inform people."

(File Photo: Alexis Alemán)
Interior Minister: Some media outlet purports to destabilize the country
Minister Tareck El Aissami regretted that government authorities are "slandered and exposed to ridicule through this particular media outlet"
"For some years, the media, particularly one of them," try to form perceptions "to encourage bloodshed and destabilize the country," said Minister of the Interior and Justice Tareck El Aissami. "It turned out to be a public health issue. It is misleading information, information which creates unrest, restlessness, uncertainty among our people.""That particular media agency plays now the role of spreading terror throughout the national territory," said El Aissami on leaving a forum against illicit drug abuse. He regretted that government authorities are "slandered and exposed to ridicule through this particular media outlet." In addition, he said, when they dare to denounce them and tell the truth about it "devils are unleashed against anybody or any leader who asks for truth and justice." "We know that its role is on the sidewalk of violence, on the side of those who do not have the reason, of those unreasonable people, dimmed by hatred and who intend to end with a liberating, humanist process which supports our president."

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