Thursday, May 10, 2007

A reader takes action: Open Letter to His Excellency Ramón Herrera Navarro, Ambassador of Venezuela to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Based on my post yesterday on the defense of RCTV, a diligent reader took action and wrote. Amazingly he got a reply from the embassy of Saudi Arabia. I suppose that the form routes automatically the mails sent to different embassies and other state organizations. But this is not about whether the "RCTV take action page" routes to the right organism, it is about the reply of the Venezuelan ambassador to Saudi Arabia. It is, if you ask me, a rather lame and embarrassing reply. But let's read what Thomas has to say about it as he sent me, upon request, the letter he received with his appropriate comments, addressed properly to ambassador Ramon Herrera Navarro. The italics in blue are the words from the ambassador.

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Open Letter to His Excellency Ramón Herrera Navarro, Ambassador of Venezuela to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Dear Mr. Ambassador, your Excellency,

At first I would like to thank you for your e-mail. I didn't expect any reply, therefore I cherish your courtesy of taking time a lot.

Thank you for expressing your opinion with regards to this matter. We appreciate your concern. Now if you let me, I will explain why you are mistaken. What we are doing is completely legal. It is a sovereignty act that the government is entitled to exercise. We are not closing that channel. As a matter of fact, it will continue operating as such but with a different mission and vision, more oriented to satisfy, in accordance to the law, the venezuelan public in its cultural, academic and entertainment demands. What we are doing is to rescue a radio electric spectrum which was assigned for a certain period of time to that channel. This period has expired. For your information this channel will continue to operate as RCTV through cable tv.

Your excellency, if RCTV is so bad for Venezuela as you claim below, why is it not closed entirely and the guilty persons prosecuted ? This discrepancy alone sheds doubt on the legality of the decision.

As a matter of fact we allow this channel to use the radio electric spectrum for 20 years and that time elapsed. You should know that in the U.S.A. this period doesn't last so long (five or seven Years), and the suspension of these licenses are something very common.

Your excellency, with all respect, the regulations and customs of the USA are for this case as relevant as the regulations and customs on Planet Melmack.

Besides, that channel has been doing a very bad work in Venezuela. In fact, it was punished many times for doing things contrary to the public moral.

Your excellency, with all respect, but murky terms like "public moral" remind me of a very dark chapter of my country, the time between 1938 till 1945 when the so called "Gesunde Volksempfinden" [healthy public feeling] was misused to silence the opposition.

It was also one of the promoters of a coup d' etat that happened in Venezuela in April 2002. At the time there were many other channels involved in promoting this coup d' etat and none of them were suspended or were punished for doing so. If they have done this in any other country it would had been closed immediately.

Your excellency, with all respect, as said above, customs of other countries are irrelevant and the argument "others would have acted in this way" has never been a justification for any action. In fact, the usage of this argument strongly points towards no substantial arguments proving your case.

I must tell you that in Venezuela we are experiencing a freedom that does not exist in any other county in the world. I invite you to go to Venezuela to see that by yourself. For instance, some people have offended the president of Venezuela using this channel and nothing has happened to them, and with the help of channels like RCTV, they continue with these actions that go beyond the capacity and purposes of this kind of media.

Your excellency, with all respect I beg to differ. If you compare the so called Gag-law with similar laws , you will find it more akin to laws used by dictatorships rather than democracies. Just to give you an example: If one offends the President of Venezuela - with "offend" being not defined, i.o.W: due to the sole discretion of the prosecutor - one is punishable, no matter whether the claimed fact is true or not. The comparable law of Austria - defining offense very well and narrowly - specifically states that an "offense" is not punishable if the content of the offense is matter of fact.

Further, the "Libro Blanco" issued by your government contains infarctions that are laughable. One example is following sentence:

"...el pueblo no puede obedecer a un gobierno que ha cometido crímenes de lesa humanidad, como el monstruoso caso de Puente Llaguno, aún no resuelto, que ha desencadenado la más brutal corrupción." from October 9th out of 2002. In fact, your own constituion actually orders the people not to obey a government as described above.

Another example of an "infraction" is following:

"Señor Fiscal ¿dónde está su responsabilidad?¿Por qué el doctor José Vicente Rangel no tiene nada que lo involucre en los hechos que ocurrieron el 11 de abril cuando todos sabemos cual fue su actuación?..." (October 9thh, 2002)

If Austria would act similarly like your government, we would have to shut down our own state owned TV, the ORF, because similar speeches (e.g. by the socialist party) are transmitted every time a minister (e.g. of the christian democrats) does a mistake.

Finally, your own minister of telecommunications stated that this decision has been taken by the President on purely political reasons disregarding all other considerations, and without following due process. In a democracy, sovereignty of the government is restricted to the process prescribed the law and such decisions are purely decided on legal grounds. Silencing media for political reasons is a sure signs for an authoritarian, if not dictatorial development within a country.

I am sorry to tell you that you have been deceived by the International Media controlled by the U.S.A. and it is better for you to find more information about that, to know the truth and give a more valid argument.

Your excellency, at first be assured that I have read both sides of the story, among that the "Blanco Libro" issued by the government. This 360 pages document goes at great length "proving" any guilt of RCTV including completely irrelevant topics like the composition of Venezuelan media or the contracts of RCTV or oil concessions since 1875 or laughable infarctions like the one mentioned above, but not one single reference to due process.

With all respect, your letter and this book reminds me fatally on the many propaganda issues of the CSSR where half of my family suffered for 40 years under a socialist dictatorship. These issues all consisted of the same pattern: A sea of "information" with a great deal of irrelevancies to "prove" the case but no touchable facts, "Tu Quoque" arguments and trying to construct a guilt from the slightest details and bending the law till it almost breaks.

Your excellency, I am sorry to have to say that, but your letter, especially the style, has convinced me that the case against RCTV is a blatant violation of Venezuelan law.


DI Thomas Mohr, Austria

this letter will be published in Daniel Duquenal's Blog.

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Apparently that letter is being received by at least another reader, Stig. Let's see if we get other type of letters and make a poll on the lamest one of the lot. Personally I am looking from the one of the ambassador to Brazil who was involved in a verbal dispute with Brazilian communication minister. That one ought to be priceless!

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