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Archives for May 2007
Troops Fire Upon Protesters in Venezuela
Venezuela moves against second opposition TV channel
Amid protests, Venezuela’s TV station goes off the air
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.
You can listen to the podcast here
Daniel Duquenal, one of my podcast guests has an excellent essay on the closing: Antes que anochezca: waiting for the night in Venezuela
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.
You must read the whole essay.
Miguel Octavio, also my guest on Saturday’s podcast, posts on Hugo Chavez’ fake democracy. He also translated Venezuelan daily’s El Nacional editorial, Power without limits, front-page editorial in El Nacional.
Miguel also reports that last night a representative of the “Board for Social Responsibility” of the Ministry of Communications threatened the media with shutting them down for up to three days by broadcasting the Inter-american Press Society (SIP) press conference.
Last night: Caracas police halt TV shutdown protest
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.
Via Instapundit, Boing-boing has videos of the Venezuelan media crackdown: TV anchors sign off, mouths shut, including this one,
The BBC has a video of the protests.
But that wasn’t all: Hugo Chavez Silences the Opposition- Sends Tanks In!
Rule of law, private property rights, and freedom of press are all now absent under the Chavez regime.
The Jungle Hut has photos and eyewitness accounts of the protests.
Aleksander Boyd is back posting,
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.
And where are the American cable news channels?
While the BBC, Forbes, the NYT, the Guardian (also here), Reuters ( Venezuela TV station says troops seized equipment) and countless others are covering the story, I have yet to see any reporting at all at CNN, or NBC. Fox News just carried a brief news item.
History is being made and they all are celebrity-watching.
Also don’t miss
Mora’s excellent report and round-up at Publius Pundit.
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.
Saturday’s podcast with Thor Halvorssen, President and CEO of the Human Rights Foundation, award-winning bloggers Daniel Duquenal of Venezuela News and Views and Miguel Octavio of The Devil’s Excrement, and oil industry expert Gustavo Coronel.
My guests were Thor Halvorssen, President and CEO of the Human Rights Foundation, award-winning bloggers Daniel Duquenal of Venezuela News and Views and Miguel Octavio of The Devil’s Excrement, and oil industry expert Gustavo Coronel. You can listen to the archived podcast here. All of their blogs continue covering this story, please visit them for updates.
Thor made an excellent point,
“It’s important that we underline that, although we are constantly referring to the president of Venezuela, it’s not because he happens to be the cause of all this. It’s because he has chosen that the center of the government is him, nothing is above him. The separation of powers does not exist in Venezuela: the judiciary is subservient to the executive power, the National Assembly was elected with less than 15% of the votes cast, meaning that there was a huge abstention rate. So, for the interest of your listeners, Venezuela is about as self-centered in terms of government power as North Korea, or Cuba, is: Everything depends on the leader and what he wants done.
Here are the facts on the closing of the TV station:
- RCTV is the oldest TV station in the country, with the largest share of the audience.
- Globovision is the only other major opposition-aligned channel, and it is not seen in all parts of the country. Two other channels that used to be staunchly anti-Chavez, Venevision and Televen, have recently toned down their coverage.
- Chile, the European Parliament, the US Senate (including senators Kennedy, Lugar, Dodd, Clinton and Obama), and Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Human Rights Watch, The Human Rights Foundation, and Amnesty International have passed resolutions condemming the closing
You can read more about it at Free RCTV
Venezuela is well on the way of becoming a totalitarian state.
I wrote an article for Pajamas Media last February on the Enabling Law. Chavez is legally able to rule by decree, and, as Miguel stated, is pushing for a constitutional reform that would allow him to be re-elected indefinitely.
Additionally, there’s the Maisanta database
The government has built a detailed list – the Maisanta database – that documents the political leanings of 12.4 million Venezuelan registered voters. The list is routinely used to deny opposition supporters access to public jobs and government social programs.
Gustavo explained that the database is also used for denying identity documents like passports and ID cards they need to get around, like the [South African] apartheid system. Miguel also stated that the Maisanta database was distributed prior to the recall referendum and you can look up people by their identity number but also by name, and it will give information as to whether he signed against Chavez or not, whether he voted or not, whether he’s enrolled in any government programs.
Why does the closing of the TV station matter?
As Mora explains
It will get uglier. And there will be no media to cover it. The food shortages, the riots, the violence, the rage in the streets, the Chavista corruption – there will be no one to check it. The broad unity of the people and their big television station will be broken, and again, all that will be left is chavismo, the chavista monolith. This is a real beginning of the end for Venezuela.
And we may hear very little about it because the free press is fading fast.
The protests continued today, and RCTV vows to stay on,
but Venezuelan Social Television is to begin broadcasting at midnight, using the same frequency occupied by Radio Caracas Television
WaPo: Venezuela TV station says troops seized equipment
Miami Herald: TV station going dark at midnight
Le Monde: Censure à la Chavez, translated by Daniel, who’s doing The countdown to RCTV closing.
ABC, Madrid: Dictatorship shows its face in Venezuela
Please vote for all these posts at Real Clear Politics
Forbes: Police broke up an opposition protest using a water cannon and tear gas
Follow-up post: RCTV is off the air.
Investor’s Business Daily has Profiles in Incompetence: a 10-part series on the worst president in American history
Part one: Look who’s talking
Go and read all of them.
Monica Showalter, editorial writer for IBD, was one of my podcast guests. You can listen to the podcast here
Who’s feeding Cuba, you ask?
Cuba expects to sign deals worth $150 million with American food producers at talks starting on Monday that point to sustained U.S. interest in the Cuban market despite political hurdles.
One U.S. farm state delegation after another has gone to Havana this year to pitch sales of wheat, corn, beans, peas, lentils, chicken and other products needed by communist Cuba to feed its people.
U.S. sales to Cuba are allowed on a cash-only basis under an exception to the embargo enforced against Castro’s leftist government since 1962. Despite the hostility between Washington and Havana, [US] exports have totaled $1.55 billion since 2001.
Sigmund, Carl and Alfred has an excellent post on Memorial Day And The Mirror Of Hope,
Americans talk about freedom so passionately because we are passionate about that great ideal.
Freedom is the foundation of our beliefs. Because of freedom we free to choose the things we believe in, without fear of violence or repercussion. Freedom is the only ideology that wants to make the world a better place, a place where each and every one of us can author our own destiny- and do so without without stripping others of their rights. In a free society, we are free to exercise free will. We can choose to believe in God or we can exercise that free will and choose not to believe in God. In a free society, God takes care of His affairs. In a society that isn’t free, the tyranny du jour takes it upon itself to handle God’s affairs for Him.
The fight for freedom has not been easy. It never is. There are those that see the cost of freedom and want us to abandon the citizens of nations that so desperately need liberation from tyranny. It is tempting indeed to walk away, in the myopic and absurd belief that we would be forever extricating ourselves from a problem.
You must read the rest. You can also vote for it at Real Clear Politics
Siggy has been my podcast guest three times and tomorrow he’ll co-host with me as we welcome Gates of Vienna‘s Dymphna and Baron Bodissey.
Barcepundit (who was also my podcast guest – is there a pattern here?) has a this hypothetical letter from a newspaper editor to a cartoonist.
My neighbor TigerHawk has Operation Hero Miles: Donate your frequent flier miles to injured soldiers and their families. Here’s how.
I’ll be posting about last night’s podcast later today.
Tonight at 7PM my guests will be Thor Halvorssen, President and CEO of the Human Rights Foundation, Daniel Duquenal of Venezuela News and Views, Miguel Octavio, of The Devil’s Excrement, and oil industry expert Gustavo Coronel. We’ll be discussing Venezuela.
Update You can listen to the archived podcast here. I’ll post about it tomorrow.
cross-posted at Heading Right
The Devil’s Excrement has the story:
Studens protest, the regime threatens and the Supreme Court confiscates RCTV’s property
Meanwhile, as people begin checking the newssites on the Internet, Noticiero Digital, Megaresistenciaand RCTV websites are taken down by denial of service attacks, the effects of which are still being felt hours later. This is compounded by problems with the CANTV network which take down some other news sites in what may be unrelated to the denial of serivce attacks, since all the others are hosted abroad.
The Free RCTV website shows that the closing was scheduled for next Monday.
Earlier today Venezuela News and Views posted, Those exquisite revolutionary moments: RCTV as the “me, my, mine” moment of the autocrat with the tearing apart of a country, but don’t miss also Marcel Granier and Hugo Chavez.
Gustavo Coronel has Letter to Senator Richard Lugar.
Thor Halvorssen of The Human Rights Foundation emailed with RCTV Shutdown Condemned By European Parliament; Senators Clinton, Obama, and Kennedy. Let’s hope the distinguished senators remember it the next time they talk about President Chavez.