Friday, January 29, 2010

Twitter photo venezuelan protest

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hugo Chavez's presidential Strikeout

Hugo Chavez's presidential strikeout

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

VENEZUELAN STRONGMAN Hugo Chávez is having a bad month. He's been forced to devalue the currency and impose nationwide power cuts, steps that will worsen a serious recession and Latin America's highest inflation. The U.S.-led humanitarian intervention in Haiti has undercut his propaganda about an evil American "empire." As his baseball-crazy country watches its annual championship series, a new slogan has gone viral: "Chávez -- You Struck Out."

So it should surprise no one that Mr. Chávez has taken new steps to tighten his authoritarian grip. On Sunday, without so much as a hint of due process, his government ordered cable systems to drop six television channels -- including RCTV, the country's oldest and long its most popular station. The alleged offense was failing to broadcast Mr. Chávez's live speeches -- of which there have been more than 140 in the past year alone, lasting up to seven hours each.

This is not the first attack on RCTV, which produces Venezuela's most popular entertainment programming as well as news programs with an opposition bent. In 2007, Mr. Chávez ordered the channel off the public airwaves, also without the due process nominally required by law. That action prompted the birth of a student movement that under the slogans of free speech and democracy helped defeat the caudillo's attempt to rewrite the constitution, and propelled opposition candidates to victory in Caracas and other major cities and states last year.

The students have returned to the streets of Caracas and at least four other cities this week, with violent results -- two were killed and dozens injured in the town of Merida in clashes with security forces and pro-regime thugs. On Tuesday, Mr. Chávez's vice president and defense minister resigned, along with the environment minister. International criticism is raining down on his government, most of it considerably stronger than the milquetoast reaction of the State Department, which observed that "any time the government shuts down an independent network, that is an area of concern."

Mr. Chávez may calculate that all the turmoil is worth it. Later this year, an election for the National Assembly is due, and what is now a rubber-stamp body could fall into the hands of the opposition if the vote is free and fair. The currency devaluation will, at least, allow Mr. Chávez to spend far more in the domestic market in the coming months; the attack on RCTV will eliminate a major opposition platform. The student protests may provide a pretext to arrest key organizers, or even to declare an emergency and put off the elections.

If Mr. Chávez were a right-wing leader or an ally of the United States, Latin American governments and many Democrats in Congress would be mobilizing to stop his latest abuse of power, and to encourage peaceful and democratic opposition. But he is not, and they are mostly silent. The Obama administration, too, has done next to nothing to defend democracy or encourage the opposition in Venezuela. Now -- when Chávez's regime threatens to disintegrate into chaos and violence -- would be a good time to start.

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Another day of abuse of power, censorship and resentment by Chavez

Government shuts down RCTV cable programming
January 24, 2010


In an act of revenge, censorship and just sheer personal vendetta, the Venezuelan Government shut down the cable signal of RCTV tonight, because the broadcasting company refused to carry Chavez’ “cadenas”, which force all TV stations to carry Chavez’ speeches whenever he so desires. (Today, he forced a few minutes of “cadena” while holding a rally for his party PSUV in Caracas, in a clear illegal act of abuse of power and Government resources)

Recall that RCTV had been shut down as a local broadcaster and its equipment confiscated in 2007, when Chavez “decided” he had to shut down the TV station locally. Its equimpent and property has yet to be returned to its rightful owners, while another Government media outlet uses it in its programming (Even if very few people watch it!)

A couple of months ago the Government issued a decree taylor made for RCTV International which managed to keep afloat via cable TV and satellite TV. According to this decree, if 70% or more of the programming was made in Venezuela, the cable system and satellite system would have to carry Chavez’ speeches.

As I arrived back at home tonight at midnight, I was surprised to hear a loud pot banging in my nighborhood as I entered my home, RCTV’s signal had been shutdown at midnight and Twitter was very active talking about the news (#freemediave).

Another day of abuse of power, censorship and resentment by Chavez and his cronies. Another day in which the rights of Venezuelans have been trampled upon.

And some still dare call this a democracy.

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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Press Violations - Venezuela

Venezuela


VENEZUELA
Report to the Midyear Meeting
Caracas, Venezuela
March 28 - 30, 2008

The previous report noted that Venezuelans were strongly opposed to a package of constitutional amendments proposed by President Hugo Chávez as a way of perpetuating his hold on power.
The report denounced the government’s intentions to get rid of the independent media, assault and intimidate journalists, eliminate freedom of speech, and undermine the right to inform and be informed.
In a referendum held on December 2, 2007, the majority of the Venezuelan people decisively rejected the proposed constitutional change — and along with it the government’s authoritarian policies and its attempt to remove all term limits on the presidency.
Nevertheless, the president’s control of all three branches of government has led to troubling interpretations of the Constitution, such as Ruling 1013 of 2001 (curtailing freedom of speech) and Ruling 1942 of 2003 (denying the validity of international human rights accords).
The Law on Social Responsibility in Radio and Television, which was passed a few years ago, allows the government to control the content of broadcast media outlets.
The Venezuelan Penal Code has been amended five times in the past seven years. Previous reports submitted to the IAPA by Venezuela, including at the latest General Assembly, denounced the fact that these amendments make it a crime to be a dissident or to “insult” government officials, as this is a serious threat to freedom of speech. A few days ago, the regime proposed amendments to 22 additional articles in the code.
In early 2007 the National Assembly passed what is known as an “enabling law,” valid for up to 18 months, which grants the president legislative powers on certain matters and allows him to pass laws by decree.
Even though his package of proposed constitutional amendments was defeated on December 2, President Chávez indicates he intends to decree measures into law that were rejected by the people in the referendum.
The Casa Arturo Uslar Pietri Foundation obtained some documents used in the Ministry of Education’s curriculum for Venezuelan teachers, which define a basic pillar of the government’s entire education system as “the recognition of accurate, timely reporting from the alternative and mass media, which are tools for reinforcing a proactive, participatory democracy in which all of society is involved.”
According to the foundation’s specialists, “this lamentable dogma imposed by the government on the educational system is at the core of education from preschool through high school, and this obviously damages our youth by attempting to discredit freedom of speech and envelop our future society in a terrible silence.”
May 27 will mark one year since Radio Caracas Televisión (RCTV) was shut down and its broadcasting equipment seized by the government. The president had announced his politically motivated decision to shut down RCTV, the free, over-the-air broadcast station that was the country’s longest-running and most widely viewed channel. This closure was opposed by the vast majority of the Venezuelan people.
Meanwhile, we continue to see court cases and rulings, administrative penalties pursued by the regime, and harassment targeting the Globovisión news channel.
Failure to provide foreign currency in a timely manner for the importation of newsprint has been a persistent problem, even though newspapers are legally entitled to it under the exchange control system. This is jeopardizing the newspapers’ circulation.
The Chávez administration has repeatedly refused to disclose information to media outlets not under his control. Independent journalists are also denied access to government sources and events controlled by government entities.
The administration resorts to the reprehensible method of discriminating in the placement of its large volume of advertising as a way of pressuring and penalizing self-respecting media outlets that do not engage in self-censorship. Media outlets that unconditionally support the government are lavished with funds, as a way of bolstering what the regime describes as “the entire communications apparatus of the revolutionary process.”
Another clear case of discrimination concerns advertising by Venezuela’s largest communications company, CanTV, and its cellular phone subsidiary, Movilnet, both of which were nationalized last year by the Chávez administration. For years these companies had advertised heavily in the newspaper Correo del Caroní. But with the precision that typifies the regime’s threats and attacks, all advertising from these companies ceased the day after they were nationalized. Other media outlets, especially those controlled by the government, ran large color ads that day with the telling slogan, “Ahora CanTV es de todos” (“CanTV belongs to everyone now”).
The government now controls 85% of all television stations, 3,000 community radio stations, and 100 Web sites, according to a study directed by Adolfo Herrera, dean of the School of Communications at the Central University of Venezuela.
Last year the Ministry of Communication and Information spent 3,465,000 bolívares to “strengthen alternative and community media outlets,” more than 1.5 million bolívares on equipment and accessories, and 152 million bolívares on “training for Venezuelan professionals by Cuban experts.”
Communications specialists said in February that “the government’s takeover of the media to further its authoritarian political aims, the reduction of space for expressing a variety of ideas, and multiple restrictions on free speech are just some of the steps taken by the executive branch in the field of communications during the first nine years of the rule of Hugo Chávez.”
According to a research study by the Commission on Political Participation and Election Campaign Financing, 69% of all programming on government-controlled radio and television stations prior to the December 2 referendum was in favor of the constitutional amendments proposed by the Chávez regime.
Other significant developments:
Acts of judicial terrorism against journalists —
through lawsuits, prosecution and persecution — have aroused even more anger and made professionals even more determined to uphold their commitment to inform, investigate and denounce.
On November 4, 2005, journalist Patricia Poleo was ordered to be taken into custody for allegedly “masterminding” the killing of a prosecutor. Under the charges Poleo would have been forced to remain in jail while the case was under investigation. She was convinced by her friends and colleagues to leave the country to escape torture, pressures and abuses.
The government’s supporters — some out of conviction, others for convenience — devote themselves to denying the truth, concealing actual events, and attempting to break the ethical resistance of honest journalists and media outlets, in order to keep unfiltered news from reaching the people and to keep the people from realizing the historical failure of totalitarianism.
The National Union of Press Workers issued a statement on February 28 expressing its “condemnation and rejection of the flagrant harassment of media outlets and their employees by pro-government forces.”
Journalists Beatriz Adrián and Diana Carolina Ruiz of Globovisión and Francia Sánchez of RCTV Internacional were assaulted on October 16, 2007, while covering a session of the National Assembly at the Teresa Carreño Theater.
On November 11, 2007, reporter Jorge Eliécer Patiño and photographer Luis Barrios of the newspaper Diario de los Llanos in the state of Barinas were beaten by police while covering a demonstration at a university.
Police officers and civilians assaulted journalist Elvis Rivas of RCTV Internacional during a student protest in the state of Mérida on November 9.
Gustavo Azócar, a journalist and on-air host for Televisora Regional del Táchira, was assaulted on camera during his morning program on November 20 by a ruling-party member of the National Assembly.
News photographer José Cohen suffered a head wound while covering a peaceful student demonstration that was repressed by the Metropolitan Police and the National Guard on November 29. Cohen received 10 stitches for the wound.
On December 5, President Chávez called Hernán Lugo García, a reporter for El Nacional newspaper, “excrement” for his article on Chávez’s defeat in the referendum.
Cameraman Carlos Toro was hit and assistant Larry Arvelo suffered bruises and injuries caused by police while covering an accident for Globovisión

Pro-government activists attacked journalist Ramón Antonio Pérez during a rally of the Copei party in Plaza Bolivar in Caracas.

A pro-government group assaulted journalist Hugo Morales who was taking pictures of attacks on university students on January 22, 2008.

Journalist María Teresa Guedez of the daily La Calle, photographer Clemente Espinoza, of the daily El Carabobeño, and the cameraman of RCTV Internacional were injured when violent pro-government groups entered and destroyed the Carabobo state Legislative Council on February 12 of this year.

The wife of journalist José Rafael Ramírez announced that she was on a hunger strike on February 14 and chained herself to the courthouse doors of Aragua state to protest what she called “judicial abuses” of her husband. Ramírez has been held in La Planta Prison in Caracas for the past month, and during this time he has been on hunger strike. Twice he has been taken to the military hospital in a near-death state, only to be revived with intravenous fluids and returned to prison. This is a violation of his right to remain free while on trial.

Pro-government activists insulted journalist Rafael Fuenmayor of Globovisión and accused him of “destabilizing the Chavez government” because he asked questions that displeased the pro-government group that took over the headquarters of the Caracas archdiocese last February 27.

Journalists were not allowed to attend a regular session of the National Assembly’s Finance Committee on February 29.

Journalists of the major newspapers of Carabobo state were beaten by pro-government groups while covering a meeting to support peace on the 6th of this month in Valencia.

Two journalists of Argentina’s Canal 5, Melina Fleiderman and Andrés Montes de Oca, special correspondents covering the tour of President Cristina Kirchner, were detained by the National Guard near Miraflores Palace when they tried to record a demonstration against Chávez nearby.

The National Press Workers Union says: “It is increasingly difficult for private sector journalists to do their work within a framework of respect for their work and within ethical and professional parameters. In a good number of agencies the immediate supervisors of the press secretaries are military personnel who do not know the basic principles of the practice of journalism, neither the law, nor the Code of Ethics. When they have objections they take reprisals.”

On May 27, the government closed down RCTV television and used military force to seize its offices and transmission equipment.

The television company has taken various legal actions, but none has had a favorable result.

On March 26, the Political-Administrative Branch of the Supreme Court denied RCTV’s request on November 29, 2007 for an injunction which would have allowed it to return to over-the-air broadcasting.,

RCTV said that the procedural technicalities cited in the decision not to consider the allegations in its petition were not applicable in that case, and said it regretted “that the Supreme Court has once again lost the opportunity to repair the serious damage that taking our channel off the air has done to the Venezuelan people.”

RCTV explained that this was not the definitive ruing in the case and said it will continue its effort to have the Supreme Court’s final decision reestablish the rule of law and restore on-the-air broadcasting to the channel.

The news channel Globovisión still faces lawsuits, more administrative sanctions and other harassment by the regime.

The chief of state has insulted and threatened Globovisión.

The government continues to systematically deny the possibility of expanding to on-air broadcasting in an effort to try to restrict the spread of its messages, news and free opinion.

The general director of the channel, Alberto Federico Ravell, said in October of 2007 the suspension ordered by the National Electoral Council of some brief reports about a constitutional amendment that the council thought might cause “electoral abstention” was censorship.

On January 31, Globovisión rejected a demand by the government agency Conatel against brief testimonial reports called “You Saw It,” which the government did not like.


Globovisión reported on February 8 that it was harassed by SENIAT. Officials showed up unannounced in the afternoon demanding that books be handed over immediately and requesting extensive tax information.

The Media Committee of the National Assembly said it “supports all legal actions that social and political organizations take against Globovisión.”

On February 11, with the slogan, “Now it is Globovisión’s turn,” pro-government individuals asked the national Attorney General’s Office to investigate the channel, allegedly for “offending Chávez and distorting news.” Three days later, pro-Chávez groups gathered outside Globovisión to protest news they said was against President Chávez, and painted graffiti attacking the channel’s executives.

On February 16, Globovisión complained to the Public Prosecutor’s Office about attacks by pro-government individuals against it.

The Communications and Information Ministry urged Globovisión on February 19 to “respect the president and the people,” saying the government does not intend to close the channel.

Pro-Chávez activist leaders declared that Globovisión was “a target of the revolution,” and asserted that “anyone can decide to place a bomb at Globovisión.” On the same day, February 27, they held a protest vigil in front of the station and painted slogans on its walls.

Two days later, the assembly of the government party considered actions against Globovisión, and proposed revoking its license.

On February 4, the interior and justice minister accused the Venezuelan media of “collaborating with the enemy” and committing “treason to the homeland” by reporting about the movement of tanks and troops toward the Colombian border which the president had ordered publicly on television.

In addition, on November 28, the Venezuelan Press Bloc issued a statement reporting a serious delay by the currency exchange control agency, CADIVI, in delivering foreign currency to pay providers of newsprint abroad.

The daily Correo de Caroni did not circulate for three days beginning December 12 because it did not receive newsprint from its supplier, the DIPALCA company. The government had not delivered the foreign currency in time.

The publisher of the daily El Regional of Zulia, Gilberto Urdaneta, also reported that his newspaper had enough newsprint for only 22 days for the same reason.

The newspapers El Impulso, Nuevo País, the magazine Zeta and other publications reported on that date that inventories of newsprint were low, which threatens their circulation in the short term, because of government delays in releasing controlled currencies.

Venezuelan newspapers live in uncertainty about the stock of newsprint and other supplies for the press that are not made in the country, since imports must be authorized by the government office that controls currency exchange.

On February 11, the Carabobo state culture secretary threatened the dailies El Carabobeño and Noti-Tarde with bombings, saying that they should “see themselves in the mirror of RCTV and Globovisión.” The official threatened that they could “see their doors close,” adding that they should “be very careful with what you publish tomorrow.”

This violent warning from the government was a reaction to the companies’ support for the “Arturo Michelena” art biennial which traditionally has been sponsored for many years by the Valencia Ateneo.

The administration considers free cultural activities contradictory to the political and ideological action the Chávez government promotes.

After this report was presented at the Midyear Meeting, Marcos Hernández, president of the Venezuelan pro-government NGO Journalists for the Truth, threatened to initiate a court case against the Venezuelan Press Bloc for having said that it would attempt to regain RCTV’s frequency. He also threatened the IAPA gathering, saying that if Venezuela is attacked at this meeting “we’ll know what to do.”

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

In Venezuela, Speak No Ill of Hugo

Chavez is getting nuts. He should have been deported when he came to the OAS and called Bush "the devil".
vdebate reporter

JENS ERIK GOULD
CARACAS
Wed Jul 25, 5:05 PM ET
Many foreigners can travel to Venezuela without avisa. But now there's a new requirement once they get there. President Hugo Chavez announced on Sunday that foreigners who publicly criticize his government will be deported. He ordered officials to monitor statements made by international figures visiting the country.
The comments came after the President of Mexico's ruling conservative party criticized Chavez for seeking to do away with term limits at a recent pro-democracy conference in Caracas. "No foreigner, whoever it is, can come here to attack us," Chavez said. "How long are we going to allow a person, from any country in the world, to come to our own house to say there's a dictatorship here, that the President is a tyrant, and no one does anything about it?"
Chavez, who has turbulent relations with the Bush Administration, has never been one to put up with those who disagree with him. He has had notable falling-outs with former confidants and insulted myriad foreign heads of state and their officials for criticizing his policies.
But his newest statementswere ironic, considering that what Chavez labeled a punishable offense in Venezuela is something he himself has done in the United States. Many Americans know Chavez best for calling President George W. Bush the devil at the United Nations last year.
That remark, as well as similar anti-Bush comments made inHarlem on the same trip, occurred on Bush's soil.
[Chavez has also taken to attacking senior Catholic prelates lately. The Associated Press on Tuesday cited an item on state-run news agency website quotingVenezuela's President assailing Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras, who had been critical of Chavez recently. "Another parrot of imperialism appeared, this time dressed as a cardinal. That's to say, another imperialist clown," Chavez reportedly said.]
Critics say that the Chavez government is becoming less and less tolerant of differing opinions. In late May, it forced opposition-aligned television station Radio Caracas Television off the air by refusing to renew its broadcasting license, and promptly opened an investigation against Globovision, the only remaining channel critical of the President.
The other major privately owned television network, Venevision, has shifted its coverage from critical to favorable, leaving the broadcast landscape largely bereft of independent voices willing to challenge the government.
Chavez counters that his government encourages critical thought. "Let's read, study, discuss, debate. Ideas, ideas and more ideas!" he said on Monday. Indeed, some within government ranks have been more than willing to denounce fellow Chavez allies in recent months.
Pro-Chavez lawmaker Luis Tascon suggested there was corrupt behavior a foot at the state oil company and last week summoned company president and Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez to shed light on the matter in front of the national Assembly.
Also last week, outgoing Defense Minister Gen. Raul Isaias Baduel said, in his farewell speech, that Chavez's beloved "socialism of the 21st century" was avague model that was generating unease.
Vague and undefined as Chavez's model of socialism maybe, he wants everyone to sign up. He said on Sunday that 90% of Venezuelans should support his government, even though nearly 40% voted against him in presidential elections in December.
His government had been fond of saying that it wishes Venezuela had a respectable opposition, rather than the current mishmash of defeated parties lacking proposals. Even that wishful democratic stance may be gone now. OnMonday, Chavez acknowledged that his government wants to ideologize Venezuelan society in order to phase out an "imperialist" way of thinking imposed in the past."
They accuse us of ideologizing and I say yes, of course," Chavez said on Monday. "Who has said thecontrary?" The time to differ with Chavez is over for foreign visitors and may soon be up for his domestic opponents as well.
View this article on Time.com

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Self-censorship by Venezuela media mogul rewarded

Self-censorship by Venezuela media mogul rewarded
Wed Jun 20, 2007 11:47AM EDT
By Bernd Debusmann, Special Correspondent


CARACAS (Reuters) - The shutdown of a Venezuelan television station critical of President Hugo Chavez may prove a windfall for the owner of a rival network: millions of dollars in advertising revenue.

The extra income could help media mogul Gustavo Cisernos reclaim his position as Venezuela's richest man, a place he now shares with Lorenzo Mendoza, each with a net worth of $6 billion and at the top of the heap in Venezuela. Mendoza's fortune comes from beer, Cisneros' from a string of media holdings, including the private TV network Venevision. In the Forbes magazine's 2006 billionaires' list, Cisneros was $100 million ahead of Mendoza, and in 2005, close to a billion. "Gustavo wants to be number one, it's really important to him," said a Caracas businessman familiar with the Cisneros family who did not want to be identified. "And now he has an opportunity."

In terms of audience and advertising revenue, Venevision perpetually ran behind RCTV, the country's oldest TV network. For years, both were sharply critical of Chavez, who accused Cisneros and RCTV's director general, Marcel Granier, of involvement in plotting an abortive coup against him in 2002.

What happened since then highlights how part of the Venezuelan elite, many linked through family ties, have learned to coexist and prosper with Chavez despite his plans to bring "21st century socialism" and a classless society to the country.
After a meeting between Chavez and Cisneros brokered by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter in 2004, Venevision dropped its anti-Chavez tone. RCTV stepped it up. In May, the government renewed Venevision's broadcast license for five years and let RCTV's license expire.

The decision drew widespread condemnation in Venezuela and abroad as an assault on the freedom expression. Also at stake: more than a quarter billion dollars a year in advertising money, by most estimates."Overall, the money spent on TV advertising totals around $600 million," Granier said in a recent interview. "We had the biggest share. It's not difficult to guess where that share will go."

AT STAKE: $280 MILLION

Experts say that while it is far too early to get a clear picture on the redistribution of the advertising pie -- RCTV previously took around $280 million of the total -- a survey by the Datos company said 44.7% of those interviewed named Venevision as their favorite TV after RCTV went off the air.

Globovision, a 24-hour news channel which still broadcasts reports critical of the government, came second, with 32.5 percent. Chavez has repeatedly threatened to shut the network down and warned such a decision could be taken independent of when its license lapses.

Despite frosty relations now between Granier and Cisneros, the two are linked by family ties typical in the tight-knit world Chavez often terms "the oligarchy." The two media tycoons are married to cousins -- daughters of the Phelps family whose patriarch founded the conglomerate that embraces RCTV.

Venezuela's web of the wealthy and the well-connected was spotlighted again when Thor Halvorssen, a human rights activist and Chavez opponent, published an op-ed piece in the New York Post. It contrasted Cisneros and Granier in "a tale of two Venezuelan media kings -- one heroic, one craven." Reflecting opposition views widely heard in Venezuela, the piece portrayed Cisneros as a villain, a man in deep collusion with Chavez who changed his network's course toward "entirely rosy coverage of government activities."

Cisneros's response came in the form of a reader's letter to the New York Post denying there had been a Carter-brokered deal. The letter was signed by Antonieta Lopez, vice president corporate affairs of the Cisneros Group.
She is Halvorssen's aunt and godmother. They are distant relatives of the beer billionaire who shares the title of Venezuela's richest man with Cisneros.

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Silencing RCTV and Danny Glover

Debunking the Bunk
by Alexandra Beech
They keep coming. Emails and articles loaded with arguments justifying the silencing of a major television network in Venezuela. The arguments, published on websites funded by the Venezuelan government in Washington and else where, have been regurgitated throughout the country through viral email campaigns mimicking grassroots efforts. Here are a few, and my response.
ARGUMENT #1
The government's decision was "legal and legitimate one based on their constitution which guarantees and regulates the access and use of airwaves for the benefit of the general public." Legal and legitimate are loaded words, right?
To keep it simple, let's say that "legal" is following the law. Here's a little legal information, just for kicks: in May, 1987, the government published a decree numbered 1577. This degree was published in an "official gaceta", a document which contains all government decrees. That document was numbered 33,796, in case anyone is interested in reading the law. Included inside that decree is an article which states that licences (or concessions) shall be automatically renewed for a period of twenty years, when "always and when all regulations have been met." Automatically is a pretty straightforward word, but for those out there scratching your heads, "automatic" means, "Acting or operating in a manner essentially independent of external influence or control."Call me crazy, but if the regulations were met, the law is pretty clear. The licence should have "automatically been renewed."
Oh, says Glover and the Venezuela Information Office. But the regulations weren't met. What regulations?
Under what legal system was the evidence of a breach presented?
In what court were the "regulations" described? I
n what court did RCTV exercise its legal right to defend itself?
There was no court case. There was no legal proceeding. No one notified RCTV. It just happened. Legal and legitimate what?
(By the way, a legal notification doesn't take place on television. Yes, Chavez's threats don't count.)
ARGUMENT #2
RCTV "has not been silenced, for it can continue broadcasting by cable, satellite and Internet!"
With a 20% inflation rate, asking the poor to subscribe to cable, and/or buy a satellite dish, and/or buy a computer and subscribe to an Internet service smacks of...discrimination?
RCTV's position on channel two (Very High Frequency), combined with its transmission equipment, guaranteed that anyone with a TV and an antennae could see it. Around 35% of Venezuelans tuned in every day, making it the most watched network in the country.
Where is RCTV today?
Can any Venezuelan with a television watch it? No. That, my friends, is SILENCING.
ARGUMENT #3
The RCTV "programming has been sexist, racist and pejorative.
"Was it "sexist" when Caracas Metropolitan Mayor Juan Barreto - a member of Chavez's (most) inner circle - said, "You can't trust an animal that bleeds every month when it hasn't been injured, the woman."
Or when Chavez said on national television to the former First Lady on Valentine's Day in 2000, "Prepare yourself, Marisabel, because tonight you're getting what's yours."
Or when Chavez addressed US Secretary of State Rice by saying, "How are you? You've forgotten me, missy ..."
Or, when in another speech, Chavez said Secretary Rice, "continues to show she is a total illiterate. It seems she dreams of me. I could invite her meet with me to see what happens. First she said she was angry. The next day she said that she felt sad and depressed because of Chavez. Oh daddy! Forget about me. That lady has such bad luck! I won’t make that sacrifice for the country. Let someone else do it. Cristobal Jimenez, Nicolas Maduro or Juan Barreto, who is single”.
I can't imagine how those statements would be interpreted as anything other than sexist and vulgar, and yet these two men are televised on every network, and no one has accused them of "sexism."
Concerning RCTV's purported racism, could there be more diversity on television?
Yes, in Venezuela and everywhere, including the US.
Is anyone protesting in front of Univision, BET, Bravo, CBS, NBC, UPN, ABC and Telemundo?
Not the last time I checked. And since when is race an excuse to silence a television network?
Finally, the word "pejorative", which means "having a disparaging, derogatory, or belittling effect or force."Never in the history of Venezuela has a president belittled his own people as Chavez has. No, he hasn't belittled his supporters, (I know what you were going to say, Glover!) I mean, those who don't agree with him, who signed against him, who voted against him - all constitutional rights.
He has called them, "squalids, coup-plotters, CIA agents, brain-washed"...and the list goes on. He called Bush and OAS Secretary General Insulza "pendejo" - which literally means pubic hair, and figuratively means asshole or idiot. We may not like either men - but we may not, as presidents, go around calling others "pubic hair" without being "pejorative." And yet no one has insisted that Chavez be removed from television.
ARGUMENT #4
RCTV "actively participated in the 2002 coup against President Chavez" because it "prohibited its reporters to broadcast Chavez's reinstatement in office."
To actively participate in a military coup, don't you have to call the military to take up arms against a president?
Did RCTV call on the military to take up arms against Chavez?
Has any Venezuelan court determined that those events were, in fact, a "coup"? (I'll publish any court decision you send me stating that the events were a "coup.") The other privately owned networks also failed to report the re-instatement of Chavez.
Why were their licenses renewed?
Could it be because they changed their editorial stance to favor the government?
As government special envoy Roy Chaderton recently said to Dow Jones in Madrid, "with the other stations, we took a political decision. They have rectified and the government considered it positive for democracy."
Does that sound like the government was upset over a coup, or over an editorial stance? Chaderton's words were repeated in New York by Consul General Leonor Osorio, who said, "The renter has behaved badly. His contract wasn't renewed." This folks, is censorship and persecution.According to one RCTV insider, there was a reason that reporters didn't venture into the streets on April 13th and 14th. After the shooting and killing of demonstrators by snipers on April 11th 2002, the country was in chaos, and many editors chose to ask network news reporters to stay home until further notice.
To date, the government hasn't created a "Truth Commission" to determine what exactly took place April 11-13, despite an accord reached between the government and the opposition under the mediation of the Carter Center and the Organization of American States which called for a thorough investigation of the sad events.
Finally, let's get real here. The government run and controlled media doesn't cover opposition events, including the student protests that recently roiled the nation. Any time hundreds of thousands of protestors crowd the streets, the government media uses the image of one empty street or avenue to "depict" the protest.
Reporters from banned networks (Globovision, and until recently RCTV) aren't allowed to enter many government functions. Government leaders, including Chavez, insult reporters who question them in any way. Chavez takes over the airwaves whenever he feels like it by forcing networks to broadcast his speeches. This revolution has been televised and televised and televised and televised and televised. Ad nauseum.
ARGUMENT #5"
The FCC in the US would have immediately shut down a television network if it broadcast statements calling for the removal of Bush."Let's envision that scenario. Rosie O'Donnell goes on National Television and starts saying that Bush needs to be removed from office. Oh wait! That probably already happened. Let's use another example. A prominent general says that Bush needs to be removed from office. He states, "I call on all soldiers to attack the White House." Would the government go after the network or after the general?
And if, by chance, Catie Couric joined the general in calling for the removal of Bush, wouldn't the FCC investigate, and possibly fine her network?
And wouldn't Congress call for hearings?
And would there be lawyers and yes, DUE PROCESS?
Please stop saying that the FCC would automatically shut down a television network. It's simply false.
Conclusion
In an interview with the Philadephia Inquirer on May 17, actor/producer Danny Glover said that "a foundation of democracy is due process."
Clearly, there was no due process in the RCTV case, and therefore the government's decision was both illegal and illegitimate.
In the same article, Glover states "In a democracy, it is important that all sides of a situation are heard not just the side that's coercively fashioned for us to hear."
Unfortunately, by Mr. Glover's criteria, Venezuela is no longer a democracy. Every VHF channel in Venezuela now only airs one side, and that is Chavez's side. Fortunately for Mr. Glover and Chavez's apologists in the United States, it is the side that they ardently defend.

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Chavez on Every Channel

May 29, 2007
By Jens Glüsing in Rio de Janeiro
For Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, television is the ultimate instrument of power. Now, despite every protest, he has let the license expire for RCTV, a private station that has long been critical of the government. The country's last remaining opposition channel must now fear for its future, too.
Using water cannons, tear gas and rubber bullets, the police used brute force against the close to 5,000 protesters. They had gathered on Monday to protest the shutdown of private TV channel Radio Caracas Television (RCTV), which had been critical of the government. Afterwards, small groups of demonstrators engaged in skirmishes with the police in several locations in the Venezuelan capital. At least three demonstrators and one policeman were injured.
Protests also occurred in the university town of Valencia on Monday. Four students were injured. At the protest rally in Caracas, RCTV anchorman Miguel Angel Rodriguez called out: "They will not silence us!" But the new public TV channel Tves was already broadcasting on RCTV's former frequency by then.

Go to the following link and see the complete article of "Chavez on every Channel"

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,485461,00.html

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Friday, June 15, 2007

OAS: The Organization of Anti-Democratic States

OAS: The Organization Of Anti-Democratic States
By Gustavo Coronel
June 11, 2007
Such a beautiful charter! Such an impressive Inter-American Democratic Charter! The words are noble: "any alteration of the democratic order in a state of the hemisphere constitutes an obstacle to the participation of that state in the Summits of the Americas process;" "solidarity among American States require the effective exercise of representative democracy;" "The protection of human rights is a basic prerequisite for the existence of a democratic society; "The organization's mission is not limited to the defense of democracy wherever its fundamental principles have collapsed but also calls for ongoing and creative work to consolidate democracy;" "The peoples of the Americas have a right to democracy and their governments have an obligation to promote and defend it;" "The effective exercise of representative democracy is the basis for the rule of law...."
I could go on and on, quoting the documents that contain the principles and values on which the Organization of American States was based. These documents are housed on an impressive white building in the heart of Washington, D.C., the capital of the country where democracy has attained its maximum development and strength. Long and sleek black limousines arrive to the doors of the gleaming building with their precious cargo of well-dressed and manicured ambassadors, ladies and gentlemen of solemn aspect, conscious of the burden of responsibility they carry. They are the guardians of democracy, they are the spokespersons for the millions of poor and suffering Latin Americans, still trying to abandon a world of misery and ignorance that has kept them as slaves for centuries. They live in beautiful mansions in one of the most beautiful cities on Earth. They are important. They can go home in the evenings satisfied with their efforts in favor of their peoples.
Right? Wrong. These men and women are not the spokespersons for Latin Americans. They are employees paid by governments to represent their interests. As such, everyday that they go to meetings and stand up to speak in the luxurious halls of the Organization, they do so in the name and by express orders of their masters back home. They are not champions for the oppressed but messengers of the powerful. When instructed to do so they will betray the very words that form the ethical and political backbone of the organization. They will not hesitate in assassinating democracy while warmly speaking about the need to defend it. In the name of non-intervention and sovereignty they allow dictators and despots to violate constitutions, to repress popular protests, to imprison dissenter without due process, to indoctrinate Latin American children with the poison of totalitarianism.
They do this, not out of ignorance, not because they are honestly convinced that they are defenders of the right causes. They do it because this is their job. It is a job that pays well, that allows them to enjoy a very high quality of life, certainly much better than the one their millions of countrymen will ever dream of. Many of them will say: “If I don’t do this, there are many others willing to take my place." They have never heard of Emmanuel Kant and his categorical imperative, the central concept of human ethics: "Act only as if your action should become an universal law" or, "Act only as if your action is always an end and never a means." (Shorter versions of the longer formulations).
These concepts are not just empty philosophical distractions. They have to do with the consequences of one’s actions. The ambassadors at the OAS might feel that they are causing no great harm by being simple boxes of resonance of their governments but they are wrong. By failing to protect their true constituencies, the peoples of Latin America, and by upholding the narrow and often perverted interests and objectives of the powerful, they are responsible for keeping our millions of poor and ignorant countrymen slaves of tyrants, populists, opportunists and cowards. They have become part of the problem while believing to be part of the solution.
The recent meeting of the OAS in Panama was a hemispheric disgrace. The words of Condoleeza Rice in that reunion were followed by the silence of the lambs. Great paid displays in the Venezuelan newspapers by the dictator stated, "Venezuela has defeated the U.S. at the OAS.: If anything was defeated at that meeting was the cause of democracy. It seems paradoxical that the only voice to be heard in defense of democracy, freedom and human rights was that of the representative of the United States, the country that dictators such as Castro and Chavez and his errand boys Morales and Ortega call the "evil" empire. How can the men and women of the OAS, starting with the secretary general, Mr. Insulza, can live with their consciences is beyond my understanding.
There are honest ambassadors and officers within the OAS, trying to do the right thing. Obviously, my comments do not apply to them. It is a pity that they are a small minority.

© 2007 Gustavo Coronel

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Venezuelans in Italy - Protesting the venezuelan government

Comunicato stampa
Siamo un gruppo di giovani Italo-Venezuelani che desiderano manifestare per portare alla luce gli eventi accaduti di recente nel Venezuela. Il governo venezuelano ha, infatti, appena negato il rinnovo della licenza ad uno dei canali più antichi della storia dei media venezuelani: Radio Caracas Televisiòn (RCTV).
La nostra protesta é a favore della libertá di espressione,dei diritti umani e in appoggio a gli studenti venezuelani che continuano a protestare pacificamente per la libertá di espressione.
Al suddetto canale non è stata rinnovata la licenza il 27 maggio 2007, dopo che l'attuale governo aveva annunciato il non rinnovo della stessa nel dicembre 2006. Come se non bastasse, gli apparecchi e mezzi di trasmissione del canale sono stati confiscati per consentire la trasmissione di un nuovo canale dello stato (TVES).
La manifestazione avrà luogo a Roma (domenica 17, in Piazza del Colosseo, dalle 15:30 alle 18:00) e a Milano (domenica 17 in Piazza Duca d'Aosta, di fronte alla Stazione Centrale, dalle 15:30 alle 18:00). Ad essa parteciperanno giovani studenti venezuelani ed italiani, ma ci auguriamo che partecipino tutti coloro che credono che la libertà di espressione e la difesa dei diritti umani siano valori imprescindibili di tutti i cittadini, indipendentemente dalle convinzioni politiche.
Ci vestiremo di nero in segno di lutto della libertá di espressione, portate i vostri striscioni (non devono avere nessun tipo di vicinanza politica) e bandiere del Venezuela

Libertá Venezuela--

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Saturday, June 9, 2007

Students Continue Protest in Venezuela

A Bid to Ease Chavez's Power Grip
Students Continue Protests in Venezuela
President Threatens Violence
By Jose de Cordoba

The Wall Street Journal via Dow Jones
Caracas, Venezuela -- A student movement that has swept across Venezuela is posing a strong challenge to President Hugo Chavez's drive to extinguishindependent power centers in the universities and media.
Although Mr. Chavez continues to have a firm grip on the government, the student protests have demonstrated a broad uneasiness with his efforts todominate Venezuelan society.

Mr. Chavez's approval ratings have fallen and suspicion of his intentions has grown among Venezuelans. He also hasn't responded to the protests in a way that resonates with the public, many of whom view the students with sympathy. Instead, he has threatened to use violence to put down the demonstrations. InVenezuela, as in most Latin American countries, students have played an outsized political role, including in the country's transition to democracy in 1958.

Since he was first elected president in 1998, Mr. Chavez has brought to heel a number of once independent power centers in Venezuela - notably the oil industry, judiciary, military and legislature. The university system and a quickly diminishing sector of the Venezuelan media are among the few important institutions outside the ambit of his control.
The student protests were sparked by the closure in late May of an opposition television station, Radio Caracas Television, or RCTV. The students seek toconvince Mr. Chavez to give up plans to remake Venezuela's educational system.The closure of RCTV appeared to convince the students that Mr. Chavez meant business when he announced a plan to create a "revolution within the university." Students and professors fear that would mean an end to university autonomy and an imposition of Cuban-style socialist ideology.

"Mediocrity is what they want," says Carolina Rondon, who studies physical therapy in Caracas at the Central University of Venezuela, the country's largest university, as she prepared to join tens of thousands of other students on a protest march Wednesday. "We are marching to save our future." On the side of a building, a huge banner had just one word: "Freedom."

Student organizers have been careful to portray their movement not as antiChavez, but as pro-freedom of expression, and have kept their distance from the largely discredited leaders of Mr. Chavez's political opposition. Shunning violent confrontation, students have adapted tactics such as handing grim-faced riot police red carnations. One day this week, groups of students with their mouths taped shut rode the city's subways holding signs that said "Peace," and "Tolerance."

To help keep their plans secret from police and the National Guard, which hastried to keep students bottled up at different universities, student organizers use cellphone text messaging to spread the news on future protests.

The number of Venezuelans who have a favorable opinion of the president has fallen 10 percentage points to 39% since November, according to Hinterlaces, a Caracas pollster. Skyrocketing crime, inflation and shortages of basic food shave contributed to Mr. Chavez's fall in popularity since he won re-election by a landslide in December.
In the past, Mr. Chavez, who has spent billions of dollars on social-welfare programs aimed at the poor, has deftly manipulated Venezuela's sharp class divisions to portray his foes as U.S. manipulated "oligarchs."

That tactic hasn't worked this time, as students come from all walks of life and many are poor or working class. "You see all kinds of students here. There are no 'oligarchs,'" says Pamela Lora, a 20-year-old public-health student at UCV. "This has nothing to do with President Bush or with any 'empire,'" she scoffs.

The Chavez government has wavered in its response. After using tear gas and rubber bullets to break up student demonstrations last week, police have moderated their approach. On Wednesday, students were able to deliver their complaints personally to Attorney General Isaias Rodriguez, a Chavez hard-liner.

The state television network, which usually ignores anti-Chavez protests, broadcast the encounter. Mr. Rodriguez listened as student leader Eduardo Torres lectured him: "We are not delinquents, we are democrats and will stay on the streets."

The following day, student representatives delivered a message to Congress, which consists entirely of Chavez supporters because the opposition didn'tcontest the last legislative election.

Even some Chavez allies in the legislature are expressing dissatisfaction with the president's efforts to consolidate power.

But Mr. Chavez hasn't for sworn threats in dealing with the students, who he has accused of being the dupes of a U.S. plot to destabilize his government. At an hours-long press conference Wednesday, Mr. Chavez threatened to lead "the people" in about of "Jacobin revolutionary violence" against students.

Despite his slide in popularity, Mr. Chavez maintains a strong grip on power which the students will have a hard time loosening. Since 1998, Mr. Chavez has survived a short-lived coup and a two-month strike in the state-owned oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela SA, known as PDVSA. Along the way, he has purged the army and has used PDVSA as a piggy bank to fund his ambitious social-welfare program.

Mr. Chavez also controls the country's electoral system, judiciary and legislature.
Since he was re-elected in December, Mr. Chavez has moved against privatefirms, nationalizing Venezuela's main telephone company and power company whilewresting control of billion-dollar projects from foreign oil firms.

The student protests began after Mr. Chavez refused to renew the broadcastlicense of RCTV, arguing that the outlet had tried to destabilize his government, been disrespectful of authority and endangered children's morals by showing spicy programming. A Hinterlaces poll showed about 80% of Venezuelans opposed the closure, which also unleashed a barrage of international and domestic criticism. Since then, Mr. Chavez threatened to cancel the license of Globovision, the sole remaining broadcaster that is critical of his rule.

Now, neither Mr. Chavez nor the students seems certain what to do next. Venezuela is scheduled to host teams from the hemisphere for the Copa America soccer tournament this month and would want to avoid scenes of police clashing with students broadcast across Latin America. He may be hoping that protests will peter out as students face final exams and leave on summer vacation.

The students aren't sure how far to take their protests either. This week, at daily morning planning meetings in every university in Caracas, students debated how to balance academic concerns and political action. "I'm prepared to lose a year of my career and two months of classes in exchange for the future we will build," said one ponytailed student delegate at an assembly at Andres Bello Catholic University this week, to a thunderous round of applause.

Peter Millard contributed to this article.

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Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Hugo & The Media Kings

HUGO & THE MEDIA KINGS
By THOR HALVORSSEN

June 6, 2007 -- ON our TV screens in America, we see Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his army of thugs cracking down on the hundreds of thousands of students protesting the shutdown of the nation's last truly independent TV station. Yet, inside the story of "the dictator vs. the forces of freedom," is a tale of two Venezuelan media kings - one heroic, one craven.
Chavez's shutdown of RCTV late last month (by refusing to renew its broadcast license) was meant to be the final move in his drive to shut down all independent voices.
In the eight years since he took the presidency, journalism has become one of Venezuela's most dangerous professions. The government and its supporters have regularly harassed, frequently beaten and sometimes killed reporters. Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Freedom House and Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and others have all condemned the Chavez government's war on the media.
RCTV had broadcast for 50 years and had become a strident critic of the Chavez regime. As the last major voice reporting anything but the government line, it was the country's most popular TV station.
The hero is RCTV's director, Marcel Granier - who received no legal notice of the shutdown. He first learned of it when Chavez announced that RCTV would be punished for criticizing the government, for being "bourgeois" and for "coup plotting." (As a final insult, the government two days before the shutdown produced a judge who ordered RCTV's equipment seized and "loaned" to a new government station that has now replaced it.)
In response, Granier has risked his life and fortune for the sake of freedom of expression. He has kept his TV reporters working; they're now broadcasting news segments on the student protests via YouTube, other Web sites and viral videos. The Congress' vice president has called for his arrest for "destabilizing."
A Venezuelan official openly described the RCTV closing as part of a plan for "communicational hegemony" over information and programming. One free TV station remains, Globovision, but its coverage is not nationwide and its viewers are limited to Venezuela's middle class.
Plus, a day after the RCTV shutdown, Chavez called for a probe of Globovision and threatened to cancel its license. He also taunted the station's director: "Are you prepared to die?"
Regime apologists will point to one other "independent" station, the privately held Venevision - which brings us to our media villain.
At first, Venevision did indeed harshly criticize Chavez. But in 2004 Chavez accused the station's owner, New York-based Gustavo Cisneros, of being behind a plot to overthrow the government. After a private meeting between the two (attended by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter), Venevision changed course: Political commentary disappeared; opposition marches and statements by opposition leaders began getting short shrift; news became entirely rosy coverage of government activities.
How deep is the collusion between Cisneros and Chavez? Consider a December 2006 phone conversation between Cisneros' senior deputy at Venevision, Carlos Bardasano, and Jesus Romero Anselmi, head of the government TV channel, Venezolana de Television. (The recording was posted anonymously on YouTube.com; "mirror sites" have defeated the regime's attempts to suppress the record.) In the call, the executives agree that "together, we are unstoppable." They also joke about how Venevision might undergo a name change to reflect government ownership.
Cisneros, a Fifth Avenue socialite, is a media giant. He's on the board of Univision, the United States' largest Latino broadcaster; his firm owns dozens of radio, TV and other telecom properties.
He's also wont to attend media conferences in the United States, delivering speeches about the media's duty to ensure that the public gets the information it needs and ensure government transparency. But back in Venezuela, Venevision executives have yet to even make a statement about the RCTV shutdown. Of course, Cisneros also stands to benefit enormously from the ad revenue that used to go to the rival channel.
Fascism doesn't triumph without help.
Thor Halvorssen is president of the New York-based Human Rights Foundation, which chronicled the shutdown of RCTV at FreeRCTV.com.

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Sunday, June 3, 2007

Chavez Attacks Last Opposition TV Station

Chavez Attacks Last Opposition TV Station
Critics of the government are unwanted in Venezuela. After refusing to renew the license broadcast for RCTV, President Hugo Chavez is now taking aim at the last remaining opposition channel. He's calling Globovision an "enemy of the state."

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is making threats against the country's last-remaining opposition channel.With Venezuela's RCTV now off the open airwaves (more...), President Hugo Chavez has set his sights on Globovision, the country's last remaining private broadcaster. In a speech that the president required all major Venezuelan networks to broadcast on Tuesday, Chavez declared the station to be an "enemy of state" that incites violence.
"Enemies of the homeland, particularly those behind the scenes, I will give you a name: Globovision," Chavez said in the speech. "Greetings gentlemen of Globovision, you should watch where you are going."
Chavez accused Globovision of attempting to incite his assassination and of misreporting the facts about protests over the closure of RCTV. He said the station was trying to foment a coup against the president similar to the one which Chavez survived in 2002. In doubt, he said, he would do what was necessary to stop the broadcaster, alluding to a possibility that he might force the station off the air. "I recommend that you take a tranquilizer and get into gear, because if not, I am going to do what is necessary," Chavez said.
Following Chavez's decision not to renew RCTV's broadcasting license on Sunday, Globovision, whose own license is not set to expire until 2014, has become the most important remaining medium for the country's political opposition. Chavez's left-wing government has already called on prosecutors to investigate Globovision for what he claims is an effort to incite his assassination. As proof he cites a feature broadcast by the station that included images of the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in 1981 accompanied by the song, "Have faith, this doesn't end here."

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Carter's Chavezuela

There is not another person most nobel, and most guilty of what is happening in Venezuela than Carter. I am not negating the responsability of Venezuelans on what is going on.
We are by FAR thebiggest responsibles of all. But, if a list identifying foreigners (to Venezuela) that are responsible was created, then President Carter will be in the TOP, no as a top ten celebrity, but in the TOP as the number one.
President Carter, Carter Foundation, you are bloody responsible. You know what, what is the worst of all this, pretty soon we will be ableto proof so. Chavez come down, and we will be able to demonstrate thatyou accept their money. What a day.

Carter's Chavezuela
By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY
Posted Thursday, May 31, 2007 4:20 PM PTLeadership:
As unrest over freedom's end grows in Venezuela, out comes Jimmy Carter's Center, expressing "concern." That's rich. Carterplayed a leading role in trashing the press there, making dictatorship possible.
Jimmy Carter often wins praise as an international mediator, but it was precisely his mediation in two events in August 2004 that led to the turmoil now seen across Venezuela. Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans have taken to the streets crying"freedom" for two reasons: they're ruled by a dictator who's gathering absolute power, and they can't even complain because he's effectively ended free speech.
On May 27, dictator Hugo Chavez shut down Venezuela's largest TV station, RCTV, which had been openly critical of his regime, sending a strong message to other critics that the same fate awaits. Like many around the world, Carter has jumped on the bandwagon to claim concern. "Healthy democracies require spaces for political dialogue and debate," the Carter Center pontificated.
But Carter himself had a direct hand in the rise of the dictatorship and in weakening the free press. In 2004, Carter was an official observer to a rigged recall referendum. He swiftly declared it free and fair. Venezuelans cried fraud and chased Carter around Caracas, beating pots and pans. Despitethis, outside Venezuela, Carter's report was taken by the media as credible, and Chavez's regime used it to bolster its legitimacy.
The truth was far sorrier. Carter allowed Chavista officials to select ballot boxes for the observers to inspect and to keep them out of the counting room where fraud is most likely.
Carter ignored evidence of electronic rigging and dismissed red flags of irregularities raised by a number of economists.That wasn't the only problem he created. In 2004,Venezuela had four robust TV stations, all of which were underfire for their criticism of the regime. Chavez declared them "fourhorsemen of the apocalypse," and vowed to destroy them. Just a few days ahead of the August recall referendum, Carter mediated a meeting between one station owner, Venevision's Gustavo Cisneros, and Chavez. The result: Venevision ended its critical coverage ofChavez in exchange for its continued existence. As a result, another station, Televen, caved in, and RCTV stood alone with tiny Globovision, as Chavez critics.
For Chavez, it was a bonanza. Because of the media deal Carter mediated, not only did he get a supine press, but it became easier to shut down the lone hold outs who refused to halt criticism.
Thanks to Carter, Venezuela is now fighting to preserve what remains of its freedoms. Carter's strategy of appeasing predators and urgingcompromise on critical matters of principle leaves Venezuela a poorer, more oppressive place. Carter has much to answer for.

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Tread carefully, Mr Chavez.

Tread carefully, Mr Chavez.
Trinidad & Tobago Express Editorial
Friday, June 1st 2007
Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez's democratic credentials are wearing increasingly thin. In fact even those who support his genuine attempts to help Venezuela's majority poor in what, after all, is one of the biggest oil-producing countries in the world, must have been taken aback by his autocratic decision to close down Radio Caracas Television.

Mr Chavez contends that what he calls "a sovereign, legitimate decision in which there is no argument'' was made because the station, among other things, is aligned to those who oppose him - which, in fact it is. But that's the point in that there is no democracy without contending views and a really democratic leader has to accept this even to the point of encouraging if not entrenched dissent then, at least, differing public points of view.

But Mr Chavez does not intend to stop there. He has since threatened to close down the remaining opposition-sided channel, Globovision, which he charges has encouraged attempts on his life. He has also gone on to warn radio stations that they should not be inciting violence by "manipulating feelings'' among the populace.

We are certain that there are laws in Venezuela that prohibit encouragement to violence and it is certainly within the Venezuelan president's rights - obligations even - to invoke all the legal
processes at his command to deal with any such naked transgressions. But one has to be wary, even fearful, of leaders who threaten drastic suppression of free speech based on such abstractions as the manipulation of feelings.

Power, as we continue to see, can be a corrupting influence and absolute power can, as we have always heard, corrupt absolutely. In this context it is instructive that Mr Chavez has been legitimised by landslide victories in his country's polls. That can lead any head of government, so inclined, to believe that he has been given licence to do whatever he perceives to be in his or the country's interests assuming, that is, that he is capable of making any clinical distinction between the two.

But while election victories do give the winner a mandate, that mandate cannot be taken as a carte blanche endorsement of any presidential whim, with wiser leaders recognising the need for
restraint even when the endorsement is widespread and convincing.
Perhaps, more than ever, even then.

http://www.trinidadexpress.com/index.pl/article_opinion?id=161155506

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Venezuelan Government Violence against Students


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Protests in Venezuela Reinvigorate Opposition

Protests in Venezuela Reinvigorate Opposition
Rallies by Free Press Advocates Deride Chávez Over TV License
By Juan Forero
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, June 2, 2007; A08
BOGOTA, Colombia, June 1 -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez's decision to pull the plug on an anti-government television station has prompted days of protests and generated international condemnation, giving a weak and demoralized opposition a rallying cry after years of setbacks.
University students carrying flags and chanting, "We are students, not coup plotters," faced off Friday with riot police at Caracas's Andres Bello Catholic University. Nearly 200 protesters have been arrested since Sunday, when Radio Caracas Television, or RCTV, aired its last broadcast after 54 years.
Authorities here say that RCTV supported a coup that dislodged Chávez for two days in 2002 and consistently violated a range of telecommunications regulations, leading the government not to renew its broadcast license when it expired.
But press freedom groups note that the station has not been officially sanctioned, nor have its owners or managers been charged with conspiracy against the state. Other private stations that were harshly anti-Chávez but have toned down critical coverage avoided the same fate, as communications Minister William Lara readily acknowledged in an interview broadcast Friday on CNN's Spanish-language service.
Polls show that 65 to 80 percent of Venezuelan respondents disagreed with the government's decision to end RCTV's concession, though many were simply upset that they wouldn't be able to see some of their favorite soap operas.
The widespread dissatisfaction has reenergized an opposition movement that lost much of its momentum after its efforts to recall Chávez were defeated in 2004 and after its decision to boycott parliamentary elections in 2005 left it without representation in the National Assembly.
"This has been politically disastrous for Chávez, domestically and internationally," Teodoro Petkoff, a newspaper editor in Caracas who believes Chávez's government is becoming increasingly autocratic, said by telephone from Caracas. "He's found nothing but condemnation all over the world."
Manuel Rosales, a governor and opposition leader who lost to Chávez in December's presidential election, has called on Venezuelans to hit the streets and protest what he has called a dictatorial move. "We'll give the last breath of our lives to be sure Venezuela doesn't lose its freedoms," he told reporters this week.
While condemnation from the Bush administration, an ideological foe of Venezuela, was expected, criticism has come from many quarters around the world, some of them surprising.
Spain's Socialist government, in a joint declaration with the United States, called Friday for Chávez to renew RCTV's license. The European Parliament voiced concern, and Brazil's Senate passed a resolution calling on Chávez to reconsider, drawing a sharp rebuke from the Venezuelan leader.
"A head of state who doesn't know how to live with democratic manifestation, such as that of the Brazilian Senate, is probably against democracy," the president of that body, Renan Calheiros, said in response.
Reporters Without Borders, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, the Chilean Senate and the Atlanta-based Carter Center have said freedom of expression could be in peril in Venezuela. "I think this weakens the Chávez government's argument that it furthers free expression," said Carlos Lauria, who has studied the case for the Committee to Protect Journalists. "It debilitates that argument."
The criticism has prompted a full-scale diplomatic offensive by the Venezuelan government.
In the United States, Venezuelan Ambassador Bernardo Alvarez told CNN that the RCTV workers would be able to find other jobs. Other government representatives stressed repeatedly that the non-renewal was little more than a bureaucratic measure.
In an interview with Colombia's Caracol Radio on Thursday, Roy Chaderton, a former Venezuelan foreign minister who serves as a special envoy, argued that RCTV remained a danger to Chávez's government.
Noting that the station recently aired "Feast of the Goat," a film based on the novel by Mario Vargas Llosa about a tyrannical dictator and the uprising against him, Chaderton said the intention was to "cultivate" the idea of assassinating Chávez as a solution to Venezuela's problems.
Chávez, speaking Thursday, warned that "international rightist, extreme-rightist and fascist movements are attacking Venezuela from everywhere -- from Europe, the United States, Brasilia." That theme -- that Chávez is in mortal danger -- is constant in Venezuela, and political analysts say it is used to manipulate public opinion.
Michael Shifter, a senior analyst for the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington policy group that closely follows Venezuela, said he didn't think it would get much traction this time.
"All of his previous attacks were on the corrupt capitalists, but this goes way beyond that and it touches on Venezuela's cultural identity," Shifter said of Chávez. "It's very hard for him to talk of the rancid oligarchy here. These are university students protesting, not part of the old order."
Still, Venezuela's government seems intent on taking harsh action against its critics. The government has announced that it has begun a legal fight against Globovision, a 24-hour news cable station that is the lone dissenting TV outlet in the country now that RCTV is only on the Internet.
Globovision is providing highly critical coverage in the wake of the RCTV closing. Lara, the communications minister, said the government would investigate after the station broadcast images of the 1981 assassination attempt against Pope John Paul II. Officials said that was designed to spur a plot against the Venezuelan leader.
Chávez later publicly warned the station, saying, "I recommend that you take a tranquilizer, that you take it easy, because if not, I'm going to make you take it easy."
José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director of the New York-based group Human Rights Watch, said Venezuelan government officials "just don't get it."
"They think that they're entitled to keep politicizing this issue," he said. "I don't think they understand the concept of a free media and the respect it requires in an open society."

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From the Economist Today


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Pinocchio TV - Do you see your nose?


Pinocchio. TV es la nariz? (Do you see your nose)

by Laureano Marquez

On Tuesday, on an obligatory nationwide TV (cadena), they told us the tale of Pinocchio (How curious, how strange and what a coincidence! : a TV station is now considered to be dignified when it shows cartoons while people protest in the streets).

A Pinocchio of the XXIst. Century, who has nothing to do with the capitalist ideology with which Walt Disney has sold us history, almost centenary of Carlo Collodi. It happens to be, in this version, of an endogenous puppet that interprets the dialectic process of society, who does not lie, but strips off the facts of its ideological content, molding reality for each circumstance. Thus, for example, according to the latest part of the tale:



  • An opposition student is not necessarily a student. If he is a student, he is being manipulated, has no convictions· If they have convictions, they are the ones of the Empire that thru the CIA, buys consciences.


  • If the CIA has bought them, it is to use them as meat for the slaughterhouse (A terrible statement when it is made by the owner of the slaughterhouse. ) and the irresponsible parents.


  • They are numerically insignificant, only the tricks of the mediatic manipulation make them appear as a crowd. On the other hand,


  • The pro-Chavez student is a conscientious and critical being.· He marches because of his convictions. Nothing is behind him.


  • He can reach the Miraflores Presidential Palace because he is part of the “people”· There are always millions of them. Their parents do well in letting them march, they are young and should have a conscience, not go lazing around like the other ones. But on top of that:


  • Actors do not suffer, they are trained to cry· If violence is exercised on the part of pro-Chavez forces (including the use of weapons) it is not violence, it is part of the defense of the pretty fatherland.


  • When someone in the opposition calls for a demonstration, he is a conspirator. But if, from the heights of power, you convoke your supporters to instill fear, it is the pretty fatherland that is being protected.


  • The image of the attempt on John Paul II’s life is an invitation to kill Chavez.


  • And last, it was not a shutdown, it was the end of the concession.

How many times am I going to say it! These and many other things came out of the mouth of Pinocchio. Nobody dared say it, but they all noticed that the nose was growing and growing. It was so public and noticeable that people were trying to get away from him to avoid being hit by it. It was very curious, by the way, that the more it grew, the less the sense of smell.


Meanwhile, Jiminy Cricket, “in an infinite chant of peace”, travels around the streets of the country, shouting to the world that in this country there is still conscience and hope. It is no surprise that some have begun calling that crowd of crickets that whistles in the streets “The generation of the 28th”


Laureano Márquez

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Summary on Venezuela - RCTV

Caracas, 3 June 2007
By Enrique ter Horst
The cancellation of RCTV’s license is proving to be Chávez‚ most costly political mistake since his first election to the Presidency eight years ago. International condemnation, including the European Parliament and the Brazilian and US Senates, has been strong and unanimous, with the exception of Cuba, as videos of the large and growing student demonstrations dissolved with tear gas and pellets are shown around the world.
The nightly banging of casseroles protesting Chávez‚ decision is now also loudly heard in most working-class neighborhoods of Caracas and the interior. The disappearance of RCTV appears to have led to the sudden and increasingly generalized realization that the regime is now moving from words to deeds, and that it is fast becoming a dictatorship.
Insult was added to injury by the Supreme Tribunal of Justice’s arbitrary decision “temporarily” impounding RCTV’s transmission infrastructure (24 hours before the new state TV station TVes initiated its transmissions), in disregard of the well established expropriation procedure, the clearest sign yet of the TSJ’s complete subservience to the Executive.
The Dean and Directors of the Faculty of Law of the Central University published on 31 May a declaration in the national press stating that the legal protection of private property in Venezuela had ceased to exist.
The student protests that started on Monday 28th have, by all accounts, been spontaneous, and they have carefully avoided any association with opposition political parties and politicians. One “politico” who attempted to speak at the first rally on Monday was unceremoniously requested to leave the speakers platform. The only politician who addressed the protesters this week has been Leopoldo López, the mayor of Chacao, where the rally was taking place.
Two of the spokesmen of the movement, Jon Goicochea, a fourth year law student at the UCAB Catholic University, and Stalin Gonzalez, the President of the federation of student centers of the UCV, the Central University, have stressed that the protest movement is not part of the opposition, just students from all social classes. See their website at http://www.resistenciaestudiantilve.blogspot.com/
RCTV, particularly the President of its holding company, Marcel Granier, had carried out in the week before the shut-down a campaign highlighting the discriminatory character of the decision and Chávez‚ very public vindictiveness, clearly showing the political motivation of the decision.
The last day of transmission was a very emotional, even schmaltzy affair that went down very well with the public at large, not only with the usual soap opera audience.
Granier’s courageous and statesmanlike performances vastly improved his image of a ruthless operator, with a 50% approval rate in the last Hinterlaces tracking poll covering the week after the closure.
Intimidation of the media has been a trait of this government ever since it came to power 8 years ago. The two year old Radio and Television Social Responsibility Law gives 4th tier public officials broad discretionary power to fine and close media that deviate from very strict programming constraints (punitive fines and taxes have already been levied against the main TV stations), and media offices have suffered in the last 8 years some 130 attacks by government controlled hoodlums, with two attempts to burn down RCTV headquarters in the center of Caracas.
Reporters working for media considered unfriendly to the Government have been barred from official events, and those covering opposition marches have been tear-gassed and shot at. 10 have been killed on these and other occasions, and 215 wounded in the same 8 years. Self-censorship is increasing, also in parts of the printed media that until recently had investigated delicate subjects and published its findings fully.
Pages 54 to 58 of the last annual report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, http://www.cidh.org/annualrep/2006eng/TOC.htm provide an update on the year 2006. The closure of RCTV is but the latest and most visible of a stream of announcements, declarations and events since Chavez‚ reelection six months ago preparing the ground for the establishment of a controlled society ensuring Chávez‚ indefinite hold on power. This includes the creation of the Unified Socialist Party of Venezuela, reforming the Constitution to establish a centralized State and consecrating the indefinite reelection of the President, transforming the Armed Forces into an instrument of the revolution, and attaining what former Communications Minister Izarra himself called the "hegemony of the media".
The government now owns or controls the vast majority of TV stations, radio stations, and newspapers.
The government’s failure to deliver a better standard of living has, however, also become more evident. Public security has taken a sharp turn for the worse, and the mismanagement of the economy is starting to take its toll. Inflation has taken the elevator as fiscal discipline has been replaced by political priorities, and the scarcity of food staples appears to have become chronic as demand fueled by high oil prices has exploded while investment in production, scared off by Chávez‚ radical discourse, has fallen to a trickle.
The poor have lost their relative food security as the effectiveness of the subsidized Mercal network has been undermined by corruption. All of the above is happening at a time when Chávez is critically vulnerable: his announced five-engine strategy towards the Socialism of the XXIst Century has been explained and initiated, but the transition is encountering stiff opposition: this is still a consumer-oriented market economy and an open society strongly attached to its freedom of expression and its liberal education system; the announced reform of the Constitution has been postponed to next year.
Yesterday he cited Gramsci again: „the old system has difficulty dying, and the new one has trouble being born”. However, his next announced objective is stripping the universities of their academic autonomy and independent governance, an explosive subject that is not foreign to the present turbulence.
His MVR has never been able to win an election in any of the main autonomous universities.It is too early to conclude that the RCTV shut-down has been the catalyzer of a broad based movement that will force Chávez to either change course or lose power. However, as the decision is squarely attributed to the President personally, he is also the sole target of the sentiment of cold outrage cutting across all social classes, a sentiment that has settled in, possibly to stay, kept alive by the inability to tune in to ones‚ favorite soap opera, but also by insecurity, scarcity and high food prices.
According to Oscar Schemel of Hinterlaces, the only polling outfit with a long established network of focus groups in the poorest neighborhoods, his tracking exercise carried out last week shows that Chávez‚ support has fallen to 36% (from 63% on election day), and 70% now believe that private property is threatened. 70% also agree with the peaceful protests and want them to continue. Fully 60% find Chávez to be an arbitrary and authoritarian President and feel threatened by him, and fully 83% oppose the shut-down.
Schemel had accurately predicted the presidential election two days before it was held. At this time Chávez no longer has the support of the majority of Venezuelans. Furthermore, shutting down RCTV might have inflicted an irreparable blow to Chávez‚ strategy of polarizing the poor against those better off and banking on their support to win all elections. The question arises if the RCTV issue and the brutal manner in which he handled it has broken the magic bond that existed between him and the impoverished majority, and if the distinction the poor had always made between the President and his very incompetent and corrupt governments will survive this deep disappointment, or if as of now all problems will be blamed on him alone.
Much will depend on how Chávez responds, but it seems that it will not be possible to put humpty together again. The cumulative effect of his many mistakes, his half-baked dogmatism and the critical stage reached by his radical project push him to move forward.
Yesterday he again said that “this revolution has come to stay”. Most observers believe that a phase of more open and aggressive repression is about to start, an impression also strongly supported by his enraged statement last Monday that he would not hesitate to call on the poor to “come down from the hills” to stop the oligarchy from toppling him, as well as by his statement yesterday that it was not necessary to wait for a license to lapse in order to close a media outlet, a clear reference to small Globovision, the last TV station that openly opposes his regime.
Many observers believe that the beginning of the end has started. Some believe that the agony is likely to be a long and painful one, but they could be wrong.

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Troops fire tear gas, rubber bullets in TV station protest

Venezuelan government is protesting cnn now. I wonder why!!!!. What about Venezuela belogs to everyone? I think that Chavez should say " Venezuela is mine". He had paid a lot of Venezuelans money to silent Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, etc.

vdebate reporter

Troops fire tear gas, rubber bullets in TV station protest

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- Venezuelan police fired tear gas and plastic bullets into a crowd of thousands protesting a decision by President Hugo Chavez that forced a television station critical of his leftist government off the air.
Police fired toward the crowd of up to 5,000 protesters from a raised highway Monday, and protesters fled amid clouds of tear gas. They later regrouped in Caracas' Plaza Brion chanting "freedom!" Some tossed rocks and bottles at police, prompting authorities to scatter demonstrators by firing more gas.
It was the largest of several protests that broke out across Caracas hours after Radio Caracas Television ceased broadcasting at midnight Sunday and was replaced with a new state-funded channel. Chavez had refused to renew RCTV's broadcast license, accusing it of "subversive" activities and of backing a 2002 coup against him.
Interior Minister Pedro Carreno told state-run television that four students were wounded by gunfire during a pro-RCTV protest staged near a university in the city of Valencia, located 150 kilometers (93 miles) west of Caracas. It was not immediately clear who the assailants were or if they were arrested.
At least three protesters and one police officer were injured in the Caracas skirmishes. Some protesters were seen in television footage hurling spent tear gas canisters back at police.
Office workers poured out of buildings to join student protesters, while organizers called for the demonstration to remain peaceful. RCTV talk show host Miguel Angel Rodriguez led the crowd in chants of, "They will not silence us!"
Separately, Information Minister Willian Lara accused the private Globovision TV channel of encouraging an attempt on Chavez's life by broadcasting the chorus of a salsa tune -- "Have faith, this doesn't end here" -- along with footage of the 1981 assassination attempt against Pope John Paul II in St. Peter's Square.
"They incite the assassination of Venezuela's president," he said.
Globovision director Alberto Federico Ravell denied any wrongdoing, calling the allegations "ridiculous."
The new public channel, TVES, launched its transmissions early Monday with artists singing pro-Chavez music, then carried an exercise program and a talk show, interspersed with government ads proclaiming, "Now Venezuela belongs to everyone."
Thousands of government supporters reveled in the streets as they watched the midnight changeover on large TV screens, seeing RCTV's signal go black and then be replaced by a TVES logo. Others launched fireworks and danced in the streets.
Inside the studios of RCTV -- the sole opposition-aligned TV station with nationwide reach -- disheartened actors and comedians wept and embraced in the final minutes on the air.
Chavez says he is democratizing the airwaves by turning the network's signal over to public use.
The president accused the network of helping to incite a failed coup in 2002, violating broadcast laws and "poisoning" Venezuelans with programming that promoted capitalism. RCTV's managers deny wrongdoing.
Founded in 1953, RCTV was the nation's oldest private channel and regularly topped viewer ratings with its talk shows, sports, soap operas and comedy programs.
Some protesters on Monday blocked roads with rocks and burning trash, saying they fear for the future of free speech. Police used tear gas to break up at least two protests, and were seen handcuffing and detaining one man.
The group Reporters Without Borders called for international condemnation of the RCTV decision as "a major setback to democracy and pluralism."
Robert Menard, the Paris-based group's secretary-general, called the measure Chavez's "first serious international political error."
Germany, which holds the European Union presidency, officially declared its concern that Venezuela let RCTV's license expire "without holding an open competition for the successor license."
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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