This week we are commemorating two years of the closing of RCTV while we are contemplating the very distinct possibility of Chavez closing Globovision at any moment. Yesterday in yet another cadena where Chavez shows increasing imbalance, he DEMANDED that the judicial power closed Globovision. That is, he does not even pretend that there is a separation of powers in Venezuela, he gives the order in public, requesting the resignation of the judicial "personnel" that is not willing to carry his orders. In English here and in Spanish here much more complete, with video included.
But let's not waste time in discussing the reasons for his latest immature and psychotic outburst (oxymoron? redundancy? intended). Let's review instead some of the facts and fiction surrounding this whole business, things lost in the hot air waves issued from the marathon Alo Presidente that is plaguing us with cadenas for the next three days.
Coup mongering in Venezuela
Fiction: the media conspired in 2002 to overthrow Chavez.
Fact: we are now 7 years and 1 month since April 2002 and not a single indictment has been issued against the owner or journalist of any of the private media that chavismo ROUTINELY accuses of being coupsters ("golpistas").
Interpretation? If in 7 years nothing has happened we must suspect one or more of the following: no hard evidence available to indict anyone for April 2002 events (let's not forget that the judicial system is FULLY in the control of Chavez since 2004); complicity between some media and Chavez (that one dedicated to mercenary Venevision and its owner, Gustavo Cisneros); incompetence and/or betrayal of people that should be indicting the media owners (which of course assume that indeed these media owners were acting in a conspiracy which send us to square 1, no evidence presented so far).
The media distort the message
Fiction: the private media are basically washing the brain of the people by emitting anti Chavez propaganda all the time and lying all the time about what is really happening in the country.
Fact: the government has in fact dominated the airborne media since 2004, and overwhelmingly dominated it since RCTV was closed in 2007. Today there is no single free air borne media espousing a critical line available nation wide. Globovision, the case presently at hand ONLY COVERS Caracas and Valencia, that is much less than a third of the Venezuelan homes. At local levels only some TV and radio stations are mildly critical and in some areas of the country, in particular rural areas, there is not a single airborne media that is critical of the government. Any criticism heard in such areas is of the intra party fighting nature, not from the opposition to the government.
Some specifics. There is ONLY one radio network allowed nation wide, RNV, and it is basically a propaganda outlet 24/24. The state controls two nation wide networks, VTV which is 24/24 propaganda and Tves which is part propaganda and part entertainment. ViVe is growing fast along Telesur and they are pro government 24/24. Only Venevision has a nationwide coverage and it is rather pro Chavez, only allowing some counted criticism of the government and only by some "selected" opposition figures. And even that is a rarer and rarer occurrence. Televen is a little bit more "independent" in its nightly news but it does not cover all the country.
In other words, unless you have access to cable TV, in some areas of the country, perhaps as much as half of it, you cannot obtain reliable information from both sides of the story. And on the other half, outside of Caracas and Valencia, objective information is limited.
Interpretation? With the overwhelming control of airborne media supplemented by the forced simultaneous broadcasts on ALL airborne media of Chavez speeches for hours every week (the infamous cadenas!), the message of the government is fully accessible everywhere, in large amounts. The problem is elsewhere.
That remote control problem or why is the "correct" information not reaching the people?
Fiction: that people are not listening to Chavez is a question of brain washing, and international media conspiracy, sabotage. Journalists are paid by the media owners to spread lies and disinformation.
Fact: If there is a media owner that pays its journalists to editorialize rather than present the real news it is the current Venezuelan government. TV shows such as La Hojilla in VTV would have been long banned in any democratic country. Besides, the sheer amount of cadenas and cadena time should have belittled any effort made by the alleged mercenary journalists in misinterpreting Chavez glorious deeds. Is Chavez not supposed to be his best publicist? Is that not the avowed objectives of cadenas and Alo Presidente? Has he not won the 2006 reelection with 60%+ vote in spite of a hard core RCTV and Globovision opposition?
Interpretation? What is happening here is that the government realizes that in spite of its best efforts people are increasingly tuning out the official message even among those who still vote for Chavez. Apparently the government has a poor understanding of a device existing in at least 90% of Venezuelan homes: the remote control of the TV set. No one so far has been able to fix such remotes so that they can only show only, say, Globovision. Chavismo simply cannot comprehend why the huge majority of the Venezuelan people at night will prefer to watch anything else but the propaganda coming out of VTV or ViVe. Watching soap operas by the chavista voter strata has long been considered subversive as Chavez more than once has admitted that his cadenas preempted the "novelas" that were bad for the people to begin with.
So now not only Globovision must be shut down but the Nazional Assembly is diligently preparing a text that will force Cable TV to pass mandatory cadenas and remove from the menu TV stations that displease the government (Cable TV is exempt of cadenas transmission and RCTV with soon Globovision have only cable as a refuge). How long until National Geographic or Animal Planet are judged subversive, anti revolutionaries?
A word to end
I know, I know, this is yet again a repeat on things that I have extensively written on and on in the past. But I thought a nice, simple text in clear format would be useful for people who need to explain what is going on really in Venezuela these days: as the going is getting tough, Chavez does not want the people to know what is really going on inside Venezuela. Repression and economic crisis do not make for a good Chavez image on TV.
Or, the only freedom of choice that chavismo understands is their freedom to tell you what to watch.