Friday, July 27, 2007

Freedoms of information and expression get another beating in Venezuela

Today the freedoms of expression and of information suffered another major set back, directly from Chavez and from his lackeys.

A cadena from Totalitaria

There was a medium sized country that slowly moved towards a totalitarian regime. The move was step by step and the nice people of the country were either cajoled or coaxed into accepting their fate, as a much better fate than associating themselves with the countries of the Capitalitaria federation.

I though about writing such a short naive tale while I watched a few excerpts of the cadena that Chavez imposed on us today. It had been quite a while that we had not had a big cadena by Chavez himself. Rumors had that the legal problems as to whether RCTV international had to pass cadenas or not sowed the doubt and delayed cadenas. But today we got a full frontal offensive against RCTV, and this cadena as a part of the offensive. The initial reply of RCTV was NOT to pass the cadena. Collision course ahead big time.

But first a reminder. A cadena is, for those that might have been living under a rock all of these years, or are brand new to Venezuela (is that possible still?) , the SIMULTANEOUS FORCED BROADCAST ON ALL TV AND RADIO STATIONS OF WHATEVER THE GOVERNMENT WANTS US TO WATCH. Our only option to escape that abuse is to turn off the TV or subscribe to cable TV.

Tonight cadena was a particularity abusive one. For I do not know how many hours, Chavez celebrated the Moncada assault in Cuba of half a century ago, he cheered Castro and presented himself as his heir. Then he moved on to attack the opposition, ridiculing it, in an offensive tone. Then (or before?) he defended what is already known about the constitutional changes he is about to propose. Of course, the opposition to all of these projects, or those who think that Castro is a criminal will never get 10 minutes to refute Chavez points in a simultaneous broadcast in all of the state TV. For that matter, they will probably not get it either on Venevision and Televen. They will have to rely only on Globovision and RCTV Internacional. No opponent of Chavez life long presidency, I will bet on that, will have significant exposure elsewhere in Venezuela

for those who pretend that Chavez is just managing the air waves in an orderly fashion in Venezuela, the scope of Chavez crime against Human Rights today will be quite a slap . Well, they will keep repeating their worn out line anyway, after all what they are doing is trying to justify the unjustifiable which is the privatization of all the airwaves to a single man's interests, those of Hugo Chavez.

No matter what Chavez supporters will say, today Chavez gave us his first salve in the campaign toward his life long presidency, and with the unfairness that we saw today we can be pretty assured of a nasty campaign and an electoral fraud. When people start a "democratic" campaign by abusing blatantly their power, elections are not to be trusted.

RCTV internacional and the cable/satellite TV system under threat

This morning the lackeys of Chavez in charge of communications, tried to strike again against RCTV. The objective is of course to close it once and for all, as even the meager 25% of the country that could get RCTV at home through cable is already unbearable for El Supremo. Let's not forget that this is a personal vendetta, of the caliber of any vendetta held by any cheap caudillo in LatAm history.

Jesse Chacon and CONATEL came on to say that the cable systems should provide some paperwork from RCTV internacional, otherwise in 5 days they should take it off the air. Apparently RCTV should register as a national producer of content and thus be subjected to all local laws. RCTV says that no, they were forced on cable and they are coming back as a different company, RCTV internacional, and thus need not to follow the law of Venezuelan only media. they should be subjected to the same law that directs Telesur, exempt of cadenas.

The solution for the government to bring RCTV to transmit cadenas is simply to allow them to have one open air channel at least. If RCTV is serious in its claims it would get that channel, say a UHF frequency in Caracas, and force itself to transmit as any other Venezuelan media. But the government is not offering that because what the government wants off all media business. Period. So chavismo is looking for is any legal loophole or misinterpretation (which court will rule in favor of RCTV against Chavez? where in Venezuela?) to close RCTV.

But no, not only the government does not want to give a single UHF to RCTV or Globovision (or anyone who they suspect might not cheer Chavez as needed) , but through its creep of a minister Lara is trying to find a legal way to force HBO to pass Chavez cadenas. That is, people that pay good money to watch pay TV will still be forced to watch Chavez cadenas and state propaganda. Now, let's think about that for a second, let's see where is the freedom of information there? Let's wonder about your right to spend your money as you please and enjoy the leisure you want? When Discovery Kids or Animal Planet or the Italian RAI will be forced to transmit at least in Venezuela any of Chavez vulgarities, where will freedom of expression be? When until even this blog is forced to pass Chavez propaganda? Or closed altogether as internet in turn will be controlled? How long are people going to accept that Chavez creeps more and more into our daily lives, our homes?

So there we are in Venezuela, a government trying to find ways to force everyone in Venezuela to watch Chavez speeches, whenever he feels like giving them. Already if you go to most public administration offices, if the waiting room has a TV is it hooked on VTV. Sometimes mercilessly to an office video/DVD that extols non stop the virtues of the revolution, such as I was subjected to when I went to pay my taxes a couple of months ago.

If the proposal of Lara gets the nod, then we might see the BBC broadcast of some important world event suddenly suspended in Venezuela because Chavez has decided to make a cadena where he will insult people, talk about his childhood souvenirs, speak about projects that will never be done, not even started. And then we will have wait for hours until we can know what happened in such an such place. Where is the freedom of information when foreign channels refuse to be cut by cadenas and leave the country? And where is the freedom of expression when all opponent TV are finally closed under the flimsiest of excuses?

Because in Chavez megalomania, and the sycophants it inspires, in Venezuela now the verbal farts of Chavez are more important than anything else that can happen anywhere in the world.

-The end-

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