Saturday, May 24, 2003

May 24, 2003

El Universal had an interesting article last Tuesday 20/05 which I think illustrates well my last post. And it will be an meaningfull break in the series I am writing these days.

Roberto Giusti is an important journalist in Venezuela. Besides doing a radio show, writing a regular column in El Universal and being a frequent guest on TV he has done recently a rather complete investigation on the infiltration of the Colombian warring factions across the Venezuelan borders. Mainly the FARC and the ELN apparently more than tolerated by the Venezuelan army, with sometimes the AUC pursuing the Colombian guerilla. Only the Colombian Army has not crossed the border, yet. For these results, on which the Venezuelan government has kept a strange silence, he has received death threats and was attacked by some of Chavez supporters blaming him for the death of a suspected extortionist. That the death looks more like a mob like settling did not perturb these people preferring to blame Giusti and perhaps distract form his other findings.

At any rate, a few days ago Giusti published an article on El Universal which is more of a mediation on what the media has gone through in Venezuela and what is that law in the making about. I did a version that I post below. Kindly Mr. Giusti gave me permission to do so.


Until he falls

The contention that the media picked up the reins dropped by the political parties was never true. Although these ones were on the verge of their demise and lost, until today, their will to lead, as it happened with other institutions, the media managed, not only to survive, but to fulfill the role that was theirs.

At the expense indeed of many sacrifices, aggressions, intimidation, threats and one murder which, nevertheless, could not reduce or even less suppress, a margin of freedom of speech wide enough to stop the advance of the totalitarian attempt.

If today in Venezuela there is no consolidated autocracy nor a single political party nor a single trade union or a single educational model, if private property has not been confiscated for good, it is for the existence of media who have limited themselves to what they have always done: reflect reality, denounce outrages, vent off the wretchedness of corruption, uncover crimes, the maneuvers to reduce the other powers and the campaigns to destroy PDVSA [1] and transform the Army into a militia to serve the would be dictator and his cohort.

Have the media jumped above their natural boundaries? Have they been subjective when it was time to film the Llaguno gunmen shooting against a defenseless crowd [2]? Did they lie when they revealed the presence of Montesinos in Venezuela [3]? Did they exaggerate when they exposed the protection that the government gave Montesinos or the complicity with the Colombian guerilla? Did they falsify, perhaps, the picture where the President appears as a co-pilot of Saddam Hussein or overdid it when warning of the scandalous subvention to the Cuban regime which gave it enough oxygen to continue enslaving and assassinating its people [4]?

After the obligation to work for the search of truth as guiding principle, the media have the right to survive and this right becomes an obligation when their existence carries along the preservation of freedom and democracy.

To do so does not mean that they are becoming conspirators. To the contrary, the conspirator is a regime that pretends to perpetuate itself indefinitely and impose on us a model (if it can be qualified as such) inspired in the total subservience of the human being.

If something has become clear during these last four years is that as long as a free media exist, critical and independent, it will be impossible to consolidate the dictatorship. This is why they are coming now with everything they have got through a legal construct, under the pretense of the defense of the mental and emotional integrity of the children. Lies! Beyond the forms, beyond the alleged redeeming motives of the moral or the rights of the beneficiaries, what is there is the intention to liquidate television and radio. Of course, there are other strategies under way: the bureaucratic constraints, the proliferation of “alternative” TV and radio stations, including those of the FARC and the acquisition of some stations with the money of all Venezuelans. When everything is said and done the power of the media sustained on a militant and engaged audience, not only has survived but will keep undermining the basis of the regime with the simple tool of exposing its misery.

And it will be so until the day he falls.

1- The State Oil Company
2- The famous shootings of April 11, 2002, where a few guys shot from Llaguno bridge “in self defense” against the crowds advancing to Miraflores Palace.
3- Montesinos, the notoriously corrupt former security chief of Alberto Fujimori, the former Peruvian president-dictator. Montesinos did hide for several months in Venezuela, although the government denied it until suddenly the government “arrested” him.
4- Chavez is the only elected head of state to have visited Saddam Hussein since the first Gulf War. As for the Venezuelan financial help to Cuba, words fail me.

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