Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Veneconomy on the closing of RCTV

To close yet another exhausting day (and it is not over) I thought abut putting as it the Veneconomy editorial. To understand some of the reasons that push people to protest you could do worse than read this editorial (outside Globovision there are people protesting in their favor, in Valencia there were injured students and tomorrow we expect more campuses to join in, while Chavez is nowhere to be seen, his usual coward self)

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To the accompaniment of alarms, pot-banging and protests by the vast majority of Venezuelans, the government brought down the curtain on Radio Caracas Televisión (RCTV) at midnight on Sunday, so perpetrating the worst confiscation of the freedom of expression by any government ever in Venezuela and perhaps in Latin America in the last 35 years.

This arbitrary, unconstitutional decision of taking the use of the frequency from RCTV issued by the country’s President is a break point marking a “before and after” in Venezuela’s history. It is the first “before and after” since that “for now” pronounced on February 4, 1992 by Commander Hugo Chávez following his attempted coup d’état against President Carlos Andrés Pérez.

RCTV’s going off the air marks the interment of 49 years of democracy and the start-up, with all its fury and despotism, of the first dictatorship in Latin America this century. According to many national and international analysts, the word “dictatorship” already falls short when describing a regime that is intervening in every aspect of the daily lives of Venezuelans. As they see it, the correct term would be “totalitarianism,” a totalitarianism that is retrograde, promotes abject poverty and underdevelopment and castrates freedoms.

This final rupture with democracy and the rule of law in Venezuela was sealed with the sentenced handed down by the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice on Friday, May 25, which seized RCTV’s facilities and equipment, such as microwaves, repeaters, antennas and towers. This latest decision, invalid and unconstitutional, is the first to be issued by any Venezuelan court that does not even base itself on existing laws or regulations.

This decision by Justice Luisa Estella Morales Lamuño was in response to a claim for the “protection of widespread, collective interests” filed by three individuals claiming to represent Venezuelan society and a member of the users’ committee “Oyentes Interactivos de la Radio” (OIR).

From May 27, Venezuela’s destiny will be marked in two ways: the first is that the last traces of Venezuelans’ freedom of expression are hanging by a thread, represented mainly by Globovisión, a few regional television stations, a score of newspapers and some radio stations that have managed to remain independent. Unfortunately, they are all under threat from and being pressured by the government and, like RCTV, have no protection under the law, given the control that the President has over the legal system.

And the second is that President Chávez has been left exposed for the first time since assuming power via the electoral route. Until now, his “legitimacy of origin” had suffered no damage, not even as a result of the many violations and illegalities committed in all the elections held since 2002. Today, the international community is now aware of his dictatorial bent. And, even more important still, 80% of Venezuelans disapprove the advancement of his totalitarianism.

VenEconomy wishes to acknowledge the entire family of Radio Caracas Televisión for the dignity they have shown at this tragic time and for not having negotiated or sold their democratic principles.

Editor’s Note: VenEconomy editor Robert Bottome is the brother of Peter Bottome, a director and stockholder at RCTV.

-The end-

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