The Princeton (N.J.) Public Library came under fire in mid-May over the inclusion of two documentaries about Cuba among 14 films in its 2007 Princeton Human Rights Film Festival. The controversy resulted in a shouting match at the May 12 screening of ¡Salud! What Puts Cuba on the Map in the Quest for Global Health, as well as accusations in the conservative blogosphere that the library was disseminating pro-Castro propaganda.
PPL Director and ALA President Leslie Burger told American Libraries that the purpose of the festival, now in its third year, is to highlight “what we think are human rights issues like the right to clean water or the right to a safe environment or the right to clean air.” Emphasizing that the 2 1/2 day event is “not about the human rights records of countries around the world,” Burger said that the film-selection committee chose ¡Salud! to spark discussion about what constitutes a quality public health system.
Which Cuba doesn’t have.
Click on the photo.
But area resident Faustia Wertz blogged May 8 that she saw PPL’s choice of ¡Salud! as well as The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil. as indicative of the library’s indifference to Castro’s human rights record. “People started organizing letter-writing campaigns,” Burger explained, “pressuring us to remove the films from the screening list, which we refused to do.” She said the library also refused to “uninvite” Ellen Bernstein of Pastors for Peace, who is a frequent traveler to Cuba, as a speaker after the ¡Salud! screening.
“The thing about the two films is not that they’re being shown. I have no objection to that. The facts on Cuba are not the facts that were shown,” Wertz told the May 18 Princeton Packet.
A couple of things here: That’s Mrs. Wertz to you. Mrs. Fausta Wertz, while you’re at it.
At no time did I ask that Ellen Bernstein be disinvited.
And I’m not an “area resident”, I am a taxpayer in Princeton Township, whose taxes support the Festival.
“To have a film festival that doesn’t address the blatant and egregious human rights violations in Cuba seems really unbalanced,” agreed Maria C. Werlau of Summit, New Jersey, and executive director of Cuba Archive.
“If we want to have a discussion about people having public health care, we have to choose a film that allows us to have that discussion,” Burger asserted. “Unfortunately because Cuba appeared in the title of that film, we never had that discussion.” She added that PPL would continue holding the Human Rights Film Festival, “broadening our community involvement in it. We’re willing to take the heat.”
One suggestion, if the Princeton Public Library is calling its film festival the Princeton Human Rights Film Festival, it might be a good idea not to ignore the human rights abuses in the systems it defends, such as the medical apartheid system prevalent in Cuba, when three eye-witnesses in the audience wanted to talk about it.
A top opponent of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has demanded the release of jailed protesters as university students poured into the streets for a third day to protest the removal of a leading opposition TV station from the air.
Leaving aside the obvious argument that the judgment over a broadcast network’s journalistic content should be left to the viewers, and that Chavez’s track record makes him an unsuitable custodian of any country’s morals, there is a deeper reason why the case of RCTV is worthy of universal attention. It has to do with the role that, in the absence of checks and balances in the steady march toward totalitarianism in Venezuela, this network was forced to play.
Forced by circumstances, RCTV had become in recent years something of a surrogate National Assembly, a surrogate Supreme Court, and a surrogate electoral authority. “We are not politicians,” Granier told me a few days ago, “but in a situation like this you cannot avoid being perceived as part of the political struggle by those who lack effective representation or democratic safeguards, and by those responsible for doing away with both. Simply by providing information to a society starved for information we were placed in that position.”
Outlets, particularly television stations, that were once aggressively anti-government have grown docile under threat of sanctions, say press freedom and human rights groups, while the government has used a windfall in oil revenue to start up newspapers and broadcast networks.
Yesterday, the crowds were at their largest and the clashes were at a minimum. At one point, thousands of protesters marched through the streets headed for a neighborhood loyal to President Chavez. Their aim is to deliver letters to a Chavez official, urging the release of 180 people arrested for opposing the view of the president. As the masses approached, the street was blocked by more than 1,000 police officers and National Guard troops. They are shoulder to shoulder, and four to six deep.
Venezuela note: The closing down of Radio Caracas Television has finally brought the entire Spanish press out against the Chávez regime. The protests got good coverage. Now he’s threatening to close down the country’s other major channel, Globovisión, and CNN. It takes a threat to the media’s status, power, and influence to really get it pissed off.
I’ve been subscribing to The Economist since I was a college student, but the quality of their material has been declining for years. About the only worthwhile sections left are science business, so The Husband requested that I renew the subscription. Stuff like this tempts me to cancel:
The United States and Iran finished in a virtual dead heat, and way down the list, in a magazine’s assessment of the peacefulness of 121 countries.
The United States placed 96th and Iran came in 97th on the global index released Wednesday by the Economist magazine. The data were drawn from the United Nations, the World Bank, peace groups and the magazine researchers’ own assessments, Williamson said.
“We are just mechanics and technicians behind the index,” he said. “We are not making judgments about foreign policy.”
People without judgment can’t make judgements, after all.
Norway was rated as the country most at peace, followed by New Zealand, Denmark, Ireland and Japan. Iraq was in last place, with Sudan and Israel just above.
Some two-dozen indicators were used, including wars fought in the past five years, arms sales, prison populations and incidence of crime.
“The United States arguably has kept the peace since 1945, but with a high level of defense spending,” Leo Abruzzese, an editorial director for the magazine’s intelligence unit, said at a news conference.
That’s how the US won the Cold War.
Leo works at The Economist’s intelligence unit. Hmmm.
Western Europe was rated the world’s most peaceful region,…
Another example of the survey’s absurd bias: Israel places No. 119, ahead of only Sudan and Iraq. But of course most Israelis would like nothing more than to live in peace, as would their leaders. They are forced into frequent wars because they are surrounded by enemy states, almost all of which The Economist reckons as more “peaceful”–including Iran, which comes 22 places above Israel despite its pursuit of nuclear weapons and its president’s vow to “wipe Israel off the map.” Syria, at No. 77, actually places well ahead of the U.S., despite its support for terrorists in Iraq, Lebanon and Israel. The Palestinian Arabs aren’t even mentioned in the survey, which covers only nations.
I’ll post more about Venezuela later today, but here’s the morning round-up:
Did you listen yet? Last Monday my guests were Dymphna and Baron Bodissey of Gates of Vienna and Siggy co-hosted. Listen to a most enjoyable podcast, and tell your friends. If you listened already, go back and listen again.
The moment illegal immigrants arrive, a sort of race begins: Can these newcomers become legal, speak the host language and get educated before they age, get hurt or lose their job? If so, then they assimilate and their children are held up as models of diversity. If not, the end of the story can be welfare or jail. … Governments in countries such as Mexico and Morocco usually care far more about their emigrants once they are long gone. Then these poor are no longer volatile proof of their own failures, but victims of some wealthy foreign government’s indifference. And these pawns usually send cash home.
Via Larwin, Ace posts that Jon Corzine didn’t think of wearing a seat belt, and zoomed down the turnpike going 90 miles an hour, but he’s going to keep you from getting fat. Maybe Corzine should call Michael Moore for diet tips.
News The Husband probably won’t want to hear: the new Saks 5th Ave shoe department will be so big it’ll have its own zip code, and a VIP room, too. Ferragamo’s right across the street, also ready and waiting.
The ruling Chavistas are in a panic. They do not know what to do. Chavez himself mocked the protestors Tuesday and implied they were CIA agents – but Venezuelans noticed that he spoke from the naval airport near Caracas, a place from where dictators are known to flee the country. Venezuelans wondered if he was really that scared because it was an odd location. Meanwhile, other Chavistas have bared their fangs at other TV stations, vowing to shut them – Globovision, the last Venezuelan dissident station, a very tiny one that takes subscriptions and commands only a 5% market share, and CNN, whose fearless Kitty Pilgrim and others have done award-worthy reporting exposing the reality of Chavez’s Venezuela for the past few years. Chavez has loudly cursed that reporting.
Venezuelans think that those stations will be shut soon. They don’t want any more coverage of the protests that are engulfing Caracas. In their minds, shutting the stations will make information much harder to get. But there’s too much momentum to really stop it – Caracas will just become a city of added tropical intrigue with people acting on rumors.
The single best symbol of the change in France is the appointment of Bernard Kouchner to the post of foreign minister. Had the Socialist Party won the election, it is highly unlikely that such a distinguished socialist would ever have been allowed through the doors of the Quai d’Orsay. (Yes, comrades, history actually is dialectical and paradoxical.) In the present climate of the United States, a man like Kouchner would be regarded as a neoconservative. He was a prominent figure in the leftist rebellion of 1968, before breaking with some of his earlier illusions and opposing the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan—the true and original source of many of our woes in the Islamic world. The group he co-founded—Doctors Without Borders, or Médecins Sans Frontières—was a pioneer in the highly necessary proclamation that left politics should always be anti-totalitarian. (His former counterpart, Joschka Fischer of Germany, also took a version of this view before Schröder’s smirking Realpolitik became too much, and too popular in Germany, for him to withstand.)
His principles led Kouchner to defend two oppressed Muslim peoples—those of Yugoslavia and Iraqi Kurdistan—who were faced with extermination at the hands of two parties daring to call themselves socialist. The Serbian Socialist Party of Slobodan Milosevic and the Arab Baath Socialist Party of Saddam Hussein are at last receding into history, leaving behind them a legacy of utter stagnation, hysterical aggression, and mass graves. I personally find it satisfying that a French socialist was identified with both these victories. Kouchner was instrumental in altering French policy in Bosnia-Herzegovina and later in filling the position—between 1999 and 2001—of U.N. representative in liberated Kosovo. Prior even to that, he had been extremely active in calling attention to the genocidal policy of Saddam in Kurdistan and in helping to introduce Danielle Mitterrand, wife of the then-president of France, to the exemplary role that she played in opposing it. A few years ago, he wrote the introduction to the French edition of The Black Book of Saddam Hussein, a vitally important volume that educates readers in the pornographic nature of that regime: a nightmare government that is now widely considered by liberals to have been framed up by the Bush administration.
Venezuela’s government has accused a TV station of inciting a murder attempt on President Hugo Chavez, hours after taking another network off the air.
It said footage shown on Globovision implicitly called for Mr Chavez to be killed. The station denies the claim. … Globovision was the only TV station to air footage of a large demonstration against the government’s growing control over the media.
This time the government has sued. Foreign news servides are also in the crosshairs:
Chavez eyes CNN The government was also suing the US station CNN for allegedly linking Mr Chavez to al-Qaeda, Mr Lara said.
“CNN broadcast a lie which linked President Chavez to violence and murder,” he said.
In a statement, CNN said they “strongly deny” being “engaged in a campaign to discredit or attack Venezuela”.
Despite protests by democracy activists, Venezuela’s oldest television network went off the air at midnight Sunday, victim of a fresh push by President Hugo Chavez to tighten his grip over the nation’s media
As my podcast guests explained, now everything depends on the leader and what he wants done:
“The decision was mine” to close RCTV, Chavez said Saturday
As my guests stated in Saturday’s podcast, RCTV’s license renewal was denied by Chavez’s decree, not by due process of law.
But more importantly, and a consolation of sorts for me, is the intensity of the international response to the closing of RCTV. Anyone who is anybody in the world has either condemned Chavez or at least remained silent, and definitely refused to support Chavez. Only a few, a surprisingly very few, have come out to support Chavez and they have no credit anyway. You can see it everywhere, from the desperate and ridiculous accusations of Minister Lara today to comment sections at Publius Pundit from pro Chavez Anglos losing their grip on things. Indeed, one from that side should be pissed off: 6 months of intense propaganda and you get editorials such as the one from Le Monde. Millions of dollars in paid services gone to waste, thousands of hours of “grass root” working for naught. The world is unto Chavez, and them, and they know it.
Yes, it is a small consolation but it is an important one. Chavez has lost any respectability he might still have had, and there is nothing he can do to recover it. When, say, Mugabe or Fujimori did this sort of things, they stopped been received where it mattered. Their regime started to unravel as they started losing the respect of their people even if those for a variety of reasons kept voting for them at first. And we know all that Chavez pins for international stages. Many will be denied him now.
Police broke up an opposition protest using a water cannon and tear gas after hundreds took to the streets on Sunday condemning a decision by President Hugo Chavez to force Venezuela’s most widely watched channel off the air.
Soaked protesters scattered while the stream of water swept the street, then sang the national anthem as they returned to face a column of riot police outside the state telecommunications commission.
However sincere the resolutions and letters condemning the act, on Monday morning, when RCTV’s right to broadcast is illegally terminated, Chavez will still be the ultimate icon of the world’s resented imbeciles and those concerned about the loss of another democratic right in Venezuela will carry on with the business of il dolce far niente at taxpayers’ expense. Toothless multilateral bodies have, as Chavez, lost all legitimacy. Its condemnations mean jackshit in the real world. The future looks bleak in Venezuela, that much is certain and has, at last, been properly understood by democrats around the globe, whom are seen in the side of reason, in the side of rule of law.
National Guard troops fired tear gas and rubber bullets Monday into a crowd of protesters angry over a decision by President Hugo Chavez that forced a critical television station off the air.
This time it was rubber bullets; in 2004 gunmen fired on Thor Halvessen’s mother during a peaceful demonstration. Univision’s showing live coverage of the ongoing demonstrations. I’ll try to get video to post.
Maria Alejandra Diaz, the social responsibility director at the Communications Ministry, cited recent legislation in Venezuela that enabled the government to shut down media groups for 72 hours if their coverage incited people to engage in violent protests. Ms. Díaz asked news organizations to refrain from reporting on the association’s statement, since it could allow viewers, readers or listeners to think Mr. Chavez’s government was “tyrannical.”
Because that would show it for what it is. Gateway Pundit has more round-up and commentary.
Hours after President Hugo Chavez shut down Venezuela’s main opposition broadcaster, his government demanded an investigation of news network Globovision on Monday for allegedly inciting an assassination attempt on the leftist leader.