Archive for the ‘censorship’ Category

#SOSVenezuela, Maria Corina, and the OAS

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014

As I reported yesterday, the OAS voted yesterday to shut out the media and the public from Maria Corina Machado’s testimony. Here’s the video she prepared for the OAS:

34 OAS ambassadors didn’t see [the] video; 385,000 citizens have

Thanks to Panamanian ambassador @ArturoVallarino, Maria Corina was able to testify at the OAS, albeit behind closed doors:

In an unusual move, Maria Corina Machado, an opposition lawmaker whom the Venezuelan government is trying to put in prison, was made a temporary member of Panama’s delegation to have access to the organization, which so far has largely failed to act on, or even publicly debate, the continuing crisis in Venezuela.

We did it!!! The voice of the Venezuelan people was heard at the OAS!!!

The OAS’s closed-door vote is a shameful spectacle, a triumph of autocracy over democracy.

In violation of the OAS charter,

the representatives of these so called “democracies” had to start by protecting the repressor, Dictator Nicolas Maduro, violating not only the Charter of the OAS, but Ms. Machado’s rights and that of the opposition to be heard in a forum which is supposed to be there to defend the basic rights of people across the Americas.

And while I can understand the strong dependency of the weak Caribbean economies on the stupid (or is it?) largesse of the even more stupid revolution, I was most disappointed at how so many of these Latin American countries were ready to prostitute themselves in order to protect their mercantile interests. It is remarkable how low these mostly leftists Governments have fallen. Despite being democratically elected, they were not willing to give a voice to the over 50% of Venezuelans that find themselves discriminated against and repressed by the Maduro Dictatorship.

And in doing so, they are trying to defend the most repressive Government, save for Cuba, to have risen in the region in the last two decades. How these representatives and their Governments can sleep at night is beyond me, more so when some of them were victims of similar repression in the past.

But somehow they are short sighted enough in thinking that this will not happen again in their countries and that their commercial interests are being protected by their unethical actions. Both premises are actually wrong. As the world turns, their countries may swing back to repression and they may need the same type of solidarity Venezuela’ opposition deserves today. But more importantly, their belief that their actions in support of the Maduro Dictatorship will somehow lead to payment of Venezuela’s debts with their countries or companies is simply wrong. As stated by Minister Ramirez or the President of the Central Bank, Nelson Merentes, there is no money to pay anything but the foreign currency budget they have established for the year 2014.

So, forget it! You will not collect under Dictator Maduro. In fact, you would probably have a better chance under a change in Government that would put order in the economy and reduce some of the absurd subsidies present in the Venezuelan economy. Only in this case, could Venezuela receive loans and cut subsidies which would, with very strict management, allow it to pay its debts with these countries, that so easily supported what can not be supported under any moral framework.

While Maria Corina was allowed to speak at the OAS, a student, and the mother of one of the protestors killed were not, as the Brazilan ambassador labeled their presence “a circus“.

These countries voted for openness:

Canada
Chile
Colombia
Costa Rica
USA
Guatemala
Honduras
México
Paraguay
Perú

Daniel Duquenal sees the vote as a breakdown of the OAS.

Simeon Tegel of Global Post writes on Why the OAS doesn’t want you to hear what this woman has to say
The Organization of American States blocked press access to hear a staunch opponent of Venezuela’s government

Machado faces the prospect of being jailed like Leopoldo Lopez, another opposition leader who has encouraged the demonstrations against widespread food shortages, skyrocketing inflation and the horrendous violent crime wave engulfing Venezuela.

Separately, two opposition mayors have been arrested in the last 48 hours — with one already sentenced to 10 months in jail — for failing to remove the street barricades put up by some of the protesters.

Upon her return, Maria Corina will be facing charges of murder and treason,

The attempt to silence Machado on trumped up charges follows the pattern of treatment opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez has experienced. Lopez was arrested in February on charges including murder, arson and incitement and immediately placed in a military prison. Some of those charges were later dropped but charges of incitement remain.

Venezuela journalist Nelson Bocaranda writes that Maduro’s paying Cubans to vandalize.

While this is going on, Maduro claims that Venezuela’s the country with the highest democratic participation, and that his government has eradicated hunger. I can’t wait for the US lefties to repeat those two gems, the way they tout how Hugo Chavez “improved the economy drastically and ameliorated poverty drastically”, and Cuba’s “excellent free healthcare”.

Food shortages in fact now run at 47.7% of what’s demanded, along with shortages of water and electricity.

Antigovernment demonstrators in Caracas faced off against riot police armed with tear gas and water cannons on Friday after Wednesday’s arrest of another opposition leader:

There’s another demonstration scheduled for today, too. The official protest death toll in Venezuela is up to 31.

RELATED:
VENEZUELA’S MADURO THREATENS TO ARREST MORE OPPOSITION MAYORS

UPDATE:
Linked to by Doug Ross and Babalu. Thank you!


Latin America at the #Oscars2014

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

Best Supporting Actor Jared Leto remembered the Venezuelan protesters:

To all the dreamers out there around the world watching this tonight in places like Ukraine and Venezuela, I want to to say we are here, and as you struggle to make your dreams happen and live the impossible, we are thinking of you tonight.

UPDATE:
Whoa! Kevin Spacey, too,

In Venezuela, most TV viewers could not watch the event as the private channel Venevision, for the first time in several decades of carrying the Academy Awards, did not broadcast the show Sunday night, which is hardly surprising, considering the Twitter campaign,

Mexican Alfonso Cuarón was a double winner: Mark Sanger and he first won for Best Film Editing (a category close to my heart), causing Paco Almaraz to quip,
And, as if were a livestock fair, the price of Alfonso Cuarón’s semen just quintuplicated . . .

Once Cuarón took another Oscar for Best Directing, a commenter in Almaraz’s feed was wondering if Cuarón would get cloned.

Argentina: Feed a regime, starve a media

Monday, March 25th, 2013

Cristina Fernandez, viuda de Kirchner, is not happy that the country’s journalists are reporting about her smear campaign against Pope Francis, the real inflation figures ( >25%), and international investors’ loss of confidence in the country. Mary O’Grady has the story,

Kirchner Tries to Starve the Independent Press
Argentina’s government employs tax inspectors and advertising boycotts to punish critics.

There have been criminal actions against newspaper officials for editorials it didn’t like, attempts to gain control of the country’s domestic newsprint supply, and the passage of a law that politicizes the granting of broadcast licenses and the sale of spectrum. Then there was the September 2009 raid by some 200 tax agents on the daily Clarín, and the deployments of pro-Kirchner mobs to block the distribution of some newspapers that do not toe the Kirchner line.

Now Mrs. Kirchner is trying to financially ruin her critics in the press. One tool is the government’s $100 million-plus advertising budget—excluding the much larger budget for soccer broadcasts. An analysis by the daily La Nación (which publishes some Wall Street Journal content) of 2012 spending over 2011 shows a 65.3% increase in the purchase of space for public announcements and, more commonly, government propaganda in the country’s newspapers and magazines. Yet the four most important independent newspaper publishers—El Cronista, Clarín, La Nación and Perfil—all lost business from the government in 2012. La Nación lost a whopping 83%. El Cronista was down 48%, Clarín lost 37% and Perfil 12%.

The punishment doesn’t end there. At a meeting on Feb. 4 the minister of domestic commerce, Guillermo Moreno, mandated that supermarket chains would have to freeze prices for 60 days. According to a March 3 report in Clarín, Mr. Moreno also instructed those merchants present to halt the purchase of print advertising in Buenos Aires and the surrounding area media outlets. According to the Clarín report, he said the boycott would include companies that sell appliances and electronics.

The government initially denied that it had decreed any such thing. But according to Clarín, merchants told the newspaper that they are under strict orders not to buy advertising from the independent newspapers in and around the capital. Clarín said that failure to obey such commands, even though they are not law, can be costly. Businesses fear government reprisals in the form of tax inspections, the withholding of import licenses, and lawsuits brought in the name of consumer protection.

A tad more subtle than the late Hugo Chavez’s closing RCTV and 34 other TV and radio stations and his attacks on Globovisión, for sure. Plus she can always blame forces beyond her control, like the Vicomte de Valmont, with the extra bonus of blaming capitalism.

Something like that could never happen here, of course.

UPDATE:
Linked by HACER. Thank you!

Hagel on Cuba: Feel the love

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Jennifer Rubin posts on Hagel’s Cuba problem

Much of the focus on Chuck Hagel’s record has been on his views on Israel, Iran and sequestration. Equally troubling to those who have taken a forceful stand against Castro’s dictatorship in Cuba, however, has been his dismissive attitude toward the Castros and his enthusiasm to end the U.S. embargo with no quid pro quo.

The Castro regime, of course, has grown increasingly close to the Iranian regime and has allied itself with Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez. In seizing and imprisoning an American, Alan Gross, it has advocated a swap with the so-called Cuban five spies (a position strenuously opposed by the U.S. Senate).

Val Prieto posits his low hanging fruit theory,

The Obama presidency will need a legacy and given their leadership ineptitude, they’ll most likely go for the low hanging fruit: Barrack [sic] Obama, the President who single-handedly lifted the archaic, inhumane, and ridiculous US embargo on Cuba.

Regardless of whether the Cuban regime shows any human rights and political and economic openings as well as cooperation on anti-terrorism and drug interdiction

Cuba in 2012 and now? Zero reforms and growing religious repression

Cross-posted at Liberty Unyielding.

Venezuela: Twitter raid UPDATED

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Raid on home of Twitter user suspected of spreading Chávez health rumours
Alleged microblogger is cousin of prominent opposition journalist who has been critical of the Venezuelan government

Venezuelan intelligence officers have raided the home of a Twitter user suspected of spreading destabilising rumours about the health of Hugo Chávez ahead of an inauguration that the ailing president looks increasingly unlikely to attend.

The alleged microblogger, Federico Medina Ravell is the cousin of a prominent opposition figure, prompting concerns that a long-simmering “information war” could be escalating as the government and its opponents try to fill the vacuum left by a leader who has not been seen or heard in public since he flew to Cuba for emergency cancer surgery a month ago.

The team of Sebin (Bolivarian National Intelligence Service) officers confiscated several computers from Medina’s home in Valencia on Sunday night, according to domestic newspapers.

Medina is the cousin of Alberto Federico Ravell, a well-known opposition journalist and co-founder of Globovision, a major news broadcaster and staunch critic of the Chávez government.

Medina, who was not at home, is accused of instigating terrorism through social networking sites. He is said to be behind the @LucioQuincioC Twitter account, which has claimed that Chávez will not return from Havana.

Fausta’s blog readers may recall that Globovision has been in Chavez’s cross-hairs for several years. In 2011 Hugo Chavez’s dictatorship fined TV channel Globovision US$2.1 million over its coverage of the deadly prison riots at Rodeo prison. The fine equaled more than 7.5% of the station’s annual revenues. Guillermo Zuloaga, Globovision’s majority owner, had to flee Venezuela in 2010, following Chavez’s constant threats against him and the station.

Meanwhile, as Cuba vies for control in post-Chávez Venezuela and other socialist heads-of-state plan to show up in Caracas for Chavez’s third inaugural (whether Chavez himself is there or not), the Venezuelan Catholic Church has said that delaying President Hugo Chavez’s inauguration would be a “morally unacceptable” violation of the constitution.

Cross-posted at Liberty Unyielding.

UPDATE,
The winner of BEST POST TITLE goes to Carlos Eire, Forecast for Venezuela: Chance of the shinola hitting the fan at 99.999999 %

Interview: The man who Chavez wants dead
Ravell told Raheem Kassam that his family have been repeatedly threatened, and that if he were to return to Venezuela, he would be killed

RK: Is this the first time you or your family have been threatened?

FMR: My family has been harassed via phone, and now the government has threatened to confiscate my assets, under the claim that I am responsible for the terrorist twitter account @LucioQuincioC. Their only reason to persecute me is that I am a critic of the regime; I am the first cousin of Alberto Federico Ravell, co-founder of globovision.com TV channel, and lapatilla.com news; I am also an active member, despite being away from my homeland, of Progressive Front for Change, an opposition alliance, alongside Ismael Garcia, Henri Falcon and Juan Jose Molina.


Argentina: Book banning through unleaded ink

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

No Kindle for Kirchner
In the age of the iPad, Argentina bans importing books.

Last October, the government impounded 1.6 million commercially imported books. In the spirit of Mr. Sellers’s Count Rupert of Mountjoy, Mrs. Kirchner’s government has concocted a reason for this novel policy: Imported books are dangerous, but in a way even Ray Bradbury hadn’t thought of.

Last month the Argentine government told retail customers of online booksellers such as Amazon that their imported books would be held up at airport customs until they went there personally and proved that the ink in the books contained less than 0.06% lead.

Argentine industrialists, like the loyal citizens of Grand Fenwick, applauded the measure. One explained the government’s concern: “If you put your finger in your mouth after paging through a book, that can be dangerous.”

For a moment I thought Cristina was going to fuel her car with imported books, but that explanation clears it all for me: She doesn’t want leaded ink in her books because she never stopped sucking her thumb while reading.

After 20 years, Cuba revokes Spanish journalist’s creds

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Mauricio Vicent, reporter for Spain’s El País for 20 years, has had his credentials revoked “irrevocably“, for his alleged bias and negative reporting.

Since 2007, the Cuban government has prohibited reporting by foreign correspondents from the Chicago Tribune, the BBC and El Universal in México.

This year, the Communist regime has denounced the Wall Street Journal, removed CNN En Español from hotel cable service, and accused Reuters of arranging meeting between spies in the island.

In addition to pulling Vicent’s creds, this week Cuba denied Agence France Press’ correspondent, Juan Castro Olivera, a visa,

Authorities have been especially sensitive about stories on Orlando Zapata Tamayo, a political prisoner who died in 2009 after a hunger strike, and Juan Wilfredo Soto Garcia, a dissident who died after an alleged police beating in May, said the journalists.

Foreign journalists in Havana have reported virtually nothing on the recent spate of complaints by dissidents in eastern Cuba of violent crackdowns by pro-government mobs and security agents against opposition activists.

CPI officials also have tightened some of the regulations on correspondents, such as those governing the purchases of cars and equipment such as air conditioners, according to the journalists, who all requested anonymity to avoid government retaliations.

The Communist regime knows all these news agencies are on Fidel’s death watch. The agencies want to have a correspondent on the island when Fidel’s death is finally announced. Denying an entry visa is a gesture, but revoking Vicent’s creds after twenty years telegraphs the message “You better toe the line, or you’ll miss out on The Big Story.”

Related:
The reforms of the Castro dictatorship in numbers: 243 & 2,221 & 1,091

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Venezuela: the 7-star protest

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

As you know, I read Power Line every day. Today Scott Johnson made a great catch:

We missed an important moment at the Miss Universe pageant on Saturday night. The outgoing Miss Universe made a little political statement on her final catwalk that was visible to Venezuelans but probably no one else, holding up an obsolete seven star pre-Chavez era flag. She did it to signal distress in her country, and nowhere is that move evident than in Venezuela’s violent crime

Here she is,

Scott also links to the IBD article, The Killing Fields Of Caracas, which also talks about the 7-star flag (links added),

The silent protest at Monday night’s Miss Universe Pageant in Las Vegas was invisible to nearly everyone — except Venezuelans. On her final catwalk, the ranking Miss Universe, Stefania Fernandez, suddenly whipped out a Venezuelan flag in a patriotic but protocol-breaking gesture.

Fernandez waved her flag for the same reason Americans waved theirs after 9/11 — to convey resolution amid distress. Her flag had seven stars, significant because Chavez had arbitrarily added an eighth, making any use of a difficult-to-find seven-star banner an act of defiance.

Fernandez’s countrymen went wild with joy on bulletin boards and Facebook, showing just how worried they are about their country. Their greatest fear is violent crime.

Ever since Chavez became president in 1999, Venezuelan cities have become hellholes in which murder rates have more than quadrupled. At 233 per 100,000, or one murder every 90 minutes, the rate in Caracas now tops that of every war zone in the world, according to an official National Statistics Institute study released Wednesday.

In fact, crime is the defining fact of life in today’s Venezuela. About 96% of all murder victims are poor and lower-middle class, the very people Chavez claims to represent. “Don’t venture into barrios at any time of the day, let alone at night,” warns the Lonely Planet guide to Venezuela to hardy adventure travelers.

By contrast, the murder rate in cartel-haunted Juarez, Mexico, is 133 per 100,000, with Mexico’s overall rate 8 per 100,000, about the same as Wichita, Kan. Colombia, fighting a narcoterror war since 1964, has an overall rate of 37 per 100,000, slightly higher than Baltimore at 36.9. The overall U.S. rate is 5.4.

Make no mistake, a murder rate like Caracas’ is a crime against humanity. The absence of personal security renders all other human rights moot. By coincidence, that’s just what Chavez seeks to eliminate as he turns his country into a Cuba-style socialist state. Instead of Castroite firing squads or Stalinesque gulags, Chavez outsources the dirty work of socialism to criminals while throwing dissidents in jail and threatening to censor newspapers.

He may try to suppress the [WARNING: graphic photo not suitable for work] Dante-like photos of corpses piled high at the Caracas morgue from the El Nacional newspaper, but the hard fact is that Chavez is responsible for what’s going on.

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Argentina and freedom of the press: 15 Minutes on Latin America

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Today’s podcast topic at 11AM Eastern:
Argentina’s censorship through court decree

Related articles:
Argentine President seizes newspapers’ firm

The Government has moved to take over the country’s only newsprint maker, alleging that two leading newspapers illegally conspired with dictators to control the company three decades ago and then used it to drive rival media out of business.

President Cristina Fernandez said the courts should decide whether the newspapers, Clarin and La Nacion, should be charged with crimes against humanity, and specifically whether the newsprint company was illegally expropriated by the papers and the military junta.

The companies
, with which Ms Fernandez has been feuding for two years, deny any illegality in the acquisition of the newsprint maker, or other crimes. They have accused the President of trying to control the essential material needed to guarantee freedom of expression, a position supported by the Inter-American Press Association and other media groups.

On Tuesday, Ms Fernandez insisted she was defending those rights. She accused Clarin and La Nacion of using the newsprint company, Papel Prensa SA, to impose media monopolies on Argentina and stifling other viewpoints by refusing to sell paper at fair prices to competitors.

Cristina Fernandez has been in office since 2007; her husband Néstor Kirchner was the President of Argentina from May 25, 2003 until December 10, 2007. Obviously they weren’t too bothered by much that happened during the junta’s years if they waited this long to do anything about it.

Feud With Clarin Deepens Bond Rout as JPMorgan Says Sell: Argentina Credit

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s growing confrontation with the country’s largest newspaper is exacerbating the biggest tumble in its dollar bonds in two months and prompting JPMorgan Chase & Co. to recommend investors cut holdings.

The yield on the South American country’s benchmark 7 percent securities due in 2015 increased 74 basis points, or 0.74 percentage point, since Aug. 23, the biggest two-day jump since June 7, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Emerging- market bond yields climbed an average of 18 basis points during the same period, according to JPMorgan indexes.

The New York bank advised investors to sell holdings of the securities, citing concern that “domestic political conflicts are escalating” and global growth is slowing, after benchmark yields fell to their lowest since November 2007 this month. Fernandez, 57, asked a court this week to review the 1976 purchase of a newsprint producer by Grupo Clarin SA, a move opposition leaders say is an attempt to silence critics in the media.

“It’s the type of news that starts to unnerve the market, particularly against this global backdrop and after prices have rallied a lot,” said Alberto Ramos, an economist with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in New York.

Argentina takeover of paper mill heats up feud with media
Argentines debated a decision by President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to take over the country’s largest newsprint mill, the latest episode in her feud with the media.

And then there are the unions and the opposition:
Pressed

By declaring war on Argentina’s most powerful opinion-former, the Kirchners are gambling with their political future. If they can bloody the company enough to make its management seek a truce, they could secure friendlier coverage of the 2011 presidential election. Even then, however, the strategy might backfire. First, it has made them look hypocritical: by trying to kill Fibertel, they have made the already-concentrated ISP market even more so. Moreover, they have given the fractious opposition a new cause to unite around.

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Argentina: Censorship through court decree

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Argentina Moves to Seize Newsprint Firm (emphasis added)

Argentina’s government intensified a campaign to wrest control of the country’s largest newsprint-paper provider on Tuesday, a move top local newspapers called a brazen attack on press freedom.

President Cristina Kirchner said her government will turn to the courts in an effort to manage Papel Prensa SA and investigate human-rights violations, arguing the sale of the company to a group of Argentine newspapers in the mid-1970s was coerced by the then-military dictatorship. Ms. Kirchner said she will also ask Congress to declare the company a “national interest” to guarantee all media access to paper at the same price. In addition, Ms. Kirchner called for a Congressional committee to oversee Papel Prensa and take seats on the company’s board.

“Whoever controls Papel Prensa, controls the printed word,” Ms. Kirchner said, accusing the papers of maintaining a vertical monopoly.

Media companies, however, say the moves are the latest in a growing offensive by Ms. Kirchner to gag the media. Last week, the government revoked the Internet service license for Grupo Clarin SA, the country’s largest media group.

Cristina is following Hugo Chavez’s Marxist rulebook

The moves are similar to actions by populist governments elsewhere in the region, including Ecuador, Bolivia and Venezuela, which have passed laws that critics say are aimed at muffling an independent media.

In Venezuela, it is illegal to publish news accounts that might be deemed to “denigrate” President Hugo Chávez. While independent newspapers still operate there, Mr. Chávez has effectively silenced or closed nearly all major independent television stations.

Clarin has a video (in Spanish) addressing the accusations: the newspapers editors point out that the move is in anticipation of the next elections so the Kirchners will have no media opposition. Their front page articles are covering the story in detail.

The Guardian and Bloomberg have more.

One question, if the transactions were illegal, why did the Kirchners wait all this time to do something about it?

It’s all about censorship.

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