Tuesday, June 26, 2007

There is no hiding the obvious

It is nothing new for the Chávez administration to attack and try to discredit nongovernment organizations. It knows that these spokesmen of civil society are independent and do not lend themselves to manipulation, particularly those that work to defend human rights.
In order to discredit these representatives of civil society and prevent them from taking action, they have resorted to every trick in the book, including arbitrary and unconstitutional interpretations of the law.
One such was the decision handed down by the Supreme Tribunal of Justice in 2000 in which Justice Jesús Eduardo Cabrera Infante determined that organizations that received financing from abroad did not form part of civil society. The purpose behind this decision was to restrict the participation of civil society in any sphere of national life. What is more, during these past seven years, this same decision has been used at the discretion of the powers that be and when it suits them to silence complaints about what is happening in Venezuela raised by different NGOs that work to defend citizens’ rights.
The NGO to come under attack today is Transparencia Venezuela, the Venezuelan chapter of Transparency International, a nonprofit organization of renown that seeks to prevent and reduce corruption in all parts of the world. Transparencia Venezuela had planned to submit a follow-up report to the OAS this week on compliance with the Inter-American Convention against Corruption (IACAC), under which it represents Venezuelan society.
At that meeting, at which the Venezuelan government would also be represented, the countries (government and civil society) are under the obligation to submit their respective reports on progress made in the fight against corruption.
However, the Venezuelan government, availing itself of the infamous decision of the TSJ mentioned earlier, is, once again, trying to prevent Transparencia Venezuela from submitting its report on corruption in the country. It fears, and quite rightly so, that the rampant corruption that is undermining the Bolivarian government will be exposed, yet again, for the world to see.
So, in a letter from Venezuela’s official representatives, signed by the General Accountability Office of the Republic and addressed to the Follow-up Mechanism of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption (AICAC) follow-up mechanism, they claim that Transparencia Venezuela is not an organization of Venezuelan civil society because it receives funds from abroad.
The Head of the Accountability Office even chose to forget the fact that the AICAC follow-up mechanism had earlier recommended that this decision be eliminated, while requesting that steps be taken to ensure that there were no provisions in current legislation that restricted the participation of civil organizations in efforts to prevent corruption.
It may well be that the government will, once again, manage to prevent Transparencia Venezuela from submitting its report, thus violating the NGO’s right to take part in the AICAC follow-up mechanism and setting a worrisome precedent so that, in the future, the government and government agencies will have the power to select who may and who may not monitor them.
With all that, the Chávez administration will not be able to prevent the AICAC follow-up mechanism from receiving the different reports from Transparencia Venezuela or the findings from being made public.
In other words, however hard it tries, the government will not be able to hide the obvious, particularly the widespread corruption plaguing its revolution.

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Venezuelan Student in Washington - Geraldine Alvarez

For release at will

Press advisory: Venezuelan Students seeking to protect Freedom of Expression and other Civil Liberties will discuss deterioration of democracy in Venezuela

Sponsored by: The National Press Club Newsmaker Committee
Friday, June 29, 9:00-10:30 AM

Contact: Carla Bustillos, Cell phone: (202) 415-2370; Alt cell phone: (202) 277-6627. E-mail bustillos.carla@gmail.com

Geraldine Alvarez, a student from the Universidad Católica Andres Bello and one of the leaders of the Venezuelan Students Movement, will address at the National Press Club, 529 14th Street NW. Washington, DC 20045, Friday, June 29, 9:00-10:30 AM, the progressive erosion of civil liberties in Venezuela and will explain the objectives of the student movement that has taken the lead in the struggle to counteract the government's efforts to limit free speech, the right to protest and University autonomy. The student movement she represents was galvanized by the recent unlawful closure of the country's oldest and most watched TV station: Radio Caracas Television (RCTV).
Ms. Alvarez's presentation will be complemented by observations made by experts in the fields of human rights, Latin American politics and academia who will provide additional details of the current state of Democracy and Human Rights in the country.
· Thor Halvorssen, President of Human Rights Foundation, who will speak on the works of his organization covering cases in Venezuela where individuals have been persecuted and jailed for expressing their views or exercising their rights to free speech.
· Roberto Izurieta (TBC), Director of Latin American Projects for The Graduate School of Political Management, The George Washington University, who will give a scholar analysis on the situation of freedom of expression, academic freedom and overall democracy in Venezuela.

This event will be sponsored by the National Press Club Newsmaker Committee with the coordination of Lucha Democrática. Moderating the panel will be Peter J Hickman of NPC. Carla Bustillos from Lucha Democrática (Restore Democracy) and Venezuelan Students Abroad-Washington, D.C. will give opening remarks and panel introduction. Lucha Democrática is an organization established in 2001 by Venezuelan citizens residing or studying in the Washington, DC area, to highlight Governmental abuse and threats to Venezuelan democracy.

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Chavez warns of resistance war with U.S.

I new we have an IDIOT as a president, but this confirms my thinking. Of course, he wants to be in the news every week. This week he came with this idea. I think he is hallucinating.
Chavez warns of resistance war with U.S.
Associated Press Writer
CARACAS, Venezuela - President Hugo Chavez urged soldiers on Sunday to prepare for a guerrilla-style war against the United States, saying that Washington is using psychological and economic warfare as part of an unconventional campaign aimed at derailing his government.
Dressed in olive green fatigues and a red beret, Chavez spoke inside Tiuna Fort — Venezuela's military nerve-center — before hundreds of uniformed soldiers standing alongside armored vehicles and tanks decorated with banners reading: "Fatherland, Socialism, or Death! We will triumph!"
"We must continue developing the resistance war, that's the anti-imperialist weapon. We must think and prepare for the resistance war everyday," said Chavez, who has repeatedly warned that American soldiers could invade Venezuela to seize control of the South American nation's immense oil reserves.
U.S. officials reject claims that Washington is considering a military attack. But the U.S. government has expressed concern over what it perceives as a significant arms build-up here.
Chavez — a close ally of Cuban leader Fidel Castro — told soldiers the Washington was trying to weaken and divide Venezuelan society, including the armed forces, without resorting to combat.
"It's not just armed warfare," said Chavez, a former army officer who is leading what he calls the "Bolivarian Revolution," a socialist movement named after 19th-century independence hero Simon Bolivar. "I'm also referring to psychological warfare, media warfare, political warfare, economic warfare."
Under Chavez, Venezuela has recently purchased some $3 billion worth of arms from Russia, including 53 military helicopters, 100,000 Kalashnikov rifles, 24 SU-30 Sukhoi fighter jets.
Last week, Chavez said he is considering arms purchases, including submarines and a missile-equipped air defense system, as he prepares for a tour of Russia, Belarus and Iran.
"We are strengthening Venezuela's military power precisely to avoid imperial aggressions and assure peace, not to attack anybody," he said Sunday.
Opposition leader Julio Borges condemned the president's interest in acquiring weapons, saying the government should focus on reducing violent crime in Venezuela, which has one of the highest homicide rates in Latin America.
"This isn't resolved with military purchases and foreign tours," Borges said. "This is resolved with the determination of having a country with justice."

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Lech Walesa calls Venezuela's Chavez a demagogue

I wonder if Mr. Walesa is also paid by the CIA to say these things?

June 21, 2007, 8:23PM
Lech Walesa calls Venezuela's Chavez a demagogue

Associated Press

LIMA, Peru — The founder of Poland's Solidarity freedom movement today called Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez a demagogue who eventually will have to pay for his populist policies.

Lech Walesa, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former Polish president, said Chavez is offering Venezuelans things "that don't belong to him."

"I consider Chavez a demagogue and a populist, who says one thing and does another," Walesa said at a news conference. Walesa was in Peru to meet with President Alan Garcia and receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Lima.

"There will come a time of truth, and then (Chavez) will have to pay for everything he has done," Walesa said, speaking in Polish through a Spanish translator.

Chavez, who has been blessed with high oil prices for most of his eight years in power, insists his socialist policies have improved the lives of poor Venezuelans and typically dismisses his critics as tools of his foes in the U.S. government.

Walesa founded and led the Solidarity trade union that helped topple communism in Poland in 1989.

The former Polish leader also said Cuba's Fidel Castro must be "forced" to move the country toward greater integration with the world economy.

"We all have to force Castro to improve his system ... and that means globalization, " he said.

In March, Walesa and another former Polish president published an open letter to the people of Cuba encouraging them to persist in seeking democratic change and promising them Polish support.


Silencing RCTV and Danny Glover

Debunking the Bunk
by Alexandra Beech
They keep coming. Emails and articles loaded with arguments justifying the silencing of a major television network in Venezuela. The arguments, published on websites funded by the Venezuelan government in Washington and else where, have been regurgitated throughout the country through viral email campaigns mimicking grassroots efforts. Here are a few, and my response.
The government's decision was "legal and legitimate one based on their constitution which guarantees and regulates the access and use of airwaves for the benefit of the general public." Legal and legitimate are loaded words, right?
To keep it simple, let's say that "legal" is following the law. Here's a little legal information, just for kicks: in May, 1987, the government published a decree numbered 1577. This degree was published in an "official gaceta", a document which contains all government decrees. That document was numbered 33,796, in case anyone is interested in reading the law. Included inside that decree is an article which states that licences (or concessions) shall be automatically renewed for a period of twenty years, when "always and when all regulations have been met." Automatically is a pretty straightforward word, but for those out there scratching your heads, "automatic" means, "Acting or operating in a manner essentially independent of external influence or control."Call me crazy, but if the regulations were met, the law is pretty clear. The licence should have "automatically been renewed."
Oh, says Glover and the Venezuela Information Office. But the regulations weren't met. What regulations?
Under what legal system was the evidence of a breach presented?
In what court were the "regulations" described? I
n what court did RCTV exercise its legal right to defend itself?
There was no court case. There was no legal proceeding. No one notified RCTV. It just happened. Legal and legitimate what?
(By the way, a legal notification doesn't take place on television. Yes, Chavez's threats don't count.)
RCTV "has not been silenced, for it can continue broadcasting by cable, satellite and Internet!"
With a 20% inflation rate, asking the poor to subscribe to cable, and/or buy a satellite dish, and/or buy a computer and subscribe to an Internet service smacks of...discrimination?
RCTV's position on channel two (Very High Frequency), combined with its transmission equipment, guaranteed that anyone with a TV and an antennae could see it. Around 35% of Venezuelans tuned in every day, making it the most watched network in the country.
Where is RCTV today?
Can any Venezuelan with a television watch it? No. That, my friends, is SILENCING.
The RCTV "programming has been sexist, racist and pejorative.
"Was it "sexist" when Caracas Metropolitan Mayor Juan Barreto - a member of Chavez's (most) inner circle - said, "You can't trust an animal that bleeds every month when it hasn't been injured, the woman."
Or when Chavez said on national television to the former First Lady on Valentine's Day in 2000, "Prepare yourself, Marisabel, because tonight you're getting what's yours."
Or when Chavez addressed US Secretary of State Rice by saying, "How are you? You've forgotten me, missy ..."
Or, when in another speech, Chavez said Secretary Rice, "continues to show she is a total illiterate. It seems she dreams of me. I could invite her meet with me to see what happens. First she said she was angry. The next day she said that she felt sad and depressed because of Chavez. Oh daddy! Forget about me. That lady has such bad luck! I won’t make that sacrifice for the country. Let someone else do it. Cristobal Jimenez, Nicolas Maduro or Juan Barreto, who is single”.
I can't imagine how those statements would be interpreted as anything other than sexist and vulgar, and yet these two men are televised on every network, and no one has accused them of "sexism."
Concerning RCTV's purported racism, could there be more diversity on television?
Yes, in Venezuela and everywhere, including the US.
Is anyone protesting in front of Univision, BET, Bravo, CBS, NBC, UPN, ABC and Telemundo?
Not the last time I checked. And since when is race an excuse to silence a television network?
Finally, the word "pejorative", which means "having a disparaging, derogatory, or belittling effect or force."Never in the history of Venezuela has a president belittled his own people as Chavez has. No, he hasn't belittled his supporters, (I know what you were going to say, Glover!) I mean, those who don't agree with him, who signed against him, who voted against him - all constitutional rights.
He has called them, "squalids, coup-plotters, CIA agents, brain-washed"...and the list goes on. He called Bush and OAS Secretary General Insulza "pendejo" - which literally means pubic hair, and figuratively means asshole or idiot. We may not like either men - but we may not, as presidents, go around calling others "pubic hair" without being "pejorative." And yet no one has insisted that Chavez be removed from television.
RCTV "actively participated in the 2002 coup against President Chavez" because it "prohibited its reporters to broadcast Chavez's reinstatement in office."
To actively participate in a military coup, don't you have to call the military to take up arms against a president?
Did RCTV call on the military to take up arms against Chavez?
Has any Venezuelan court determined that those events were, in fact, a "coup"? (I'll publish any court decision you send me stating that the events were a "coup.") The other privately owned networks also failed to report the re-instatement of Chavez.
Why were their licenses renewed?
Could it be because they changed their editorial stance to favor the government?
As government special envoy Roy Chaderton recently said to Dow Jones in Madrid, "with the other stations, we took a political decision. They have rectified and the government considered it positive for democracy."
Does that sound like the government was upset over a coup, or over an editorial stance? Chaderton's words were repeated in New York by Consul General Leonor Osorio, who said, "The renter has behaved badly. His contract wasn't renewed." This folks, is censorship and persecution.According to one RCTV insider, there was a reason that reporters didn't venture into the streets on April 13th and 14th. After the shooting and killing of demonstrators by snipers on April 11th 2002, the country was in chaos, and many editors chose to ask network news reporters to stay home until further notice.
To date, the government hasn't created a "Truth Commission" to determine what exactly took place April 11-13, despite an accord reached between the government and the opposition under the mediation of the Carter Center and the Organization of American States which called for a thorough investigation of the sad events.
Finally, let's get real here. The government run and controlled media doesn't cover opposition events, including the student protests that recently roiled the nation. Any time hundreds of thousands of protestors crowd the streets, the government media uses the image of one empty street or avenue to "depict" the protest.
Reporters from banned networks (Globovision, and until recently RCTV) aren't allowed to enter many government functions. Government leaders, including Chavez, insult reporters who question them in any way. Chavez takes over the airwaves whenever he feels like it by forcing networks to broadcast his speeches. This revolution has been televised and televised and televised and televised and televised. Ad nauseum.
The FCC in the US would have immediately shut down a television network if it broadcast statements calling for the removal of Bush."Let's envision that scenario. Rosie O'Donnell goes on National Television and starts saying that Bush needs to be removed from office. Oh wait! That probably already happened. Let's use another example. A prominent general says that Bush needs to be removed from office. He states, "I call on all soldiers to attack the White House." Would the government go after the network or after the general?
And if, by chance, Catie Couric joined the general in calling for the removal of Bush, wouldn't the FCC investigate, and possibly fine her network?
And wouldn't Congress call for hearings?
And would there be lawyers and yes, DUE PROCESS?
Please stop saying that the FCC would automatically shut down a television network. It's simply false.
In an interview with the Philadephia Inquirer on May 17, actor/producer Danny Glover said that "a foundation of democracy is due process."
Clearly, there was no due process in the RCTV case, and therefore the government's decision was both illegal and illegitimate.
In the same article, Glover states "In a democracy, it is important that all sides of a situation are heard not just the side that's coercively fashioned for us to hear."
Unfortunately, by Mr. Glover's criteria, Venezuela is no longer a democracy. Every VHF channel in Venezuela now only airs one side, and that is Chavez's side. Fortunately for Mr. Glover and Chavez's apologists in the United States, it is the side that they ardently defend.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Copa America

The Copa America will start this coming June 26th. The students will be protesting against Chavez government showing, that they don't agree with Chavez politics. Three weeks ago, Chavez government closed a TV channel that criticized him. He doesn't want any media talking bad about him. He has been the worse Venezuelan president ever. I wish the Venezuelans succeed in their protest again his government. By the way, the tickets to the Copa America, soccer events where sold only to people that work for the government. Chavez was afraid that people will protest him in from of foreign media. Check this cartoon: http://www.blog.vdebate.org/2007/06/from-economist-today.html.

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Venezuelans Blog - The barrios radar

I like the following link of the blog “El radar de los barrios”. It talks how the people from no-rich places in Venezuela think. It is in Spanish. If you don't read Spanish enjoy the pictures.


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Misery in Venezuela

Chavez talks about how good he is doing in Venezuela. If you believe him, go to the following link and see how "bad" he is doing with "our" Venezuela "petro-dollares"money.



Chavez on Every Channel

May 29, 2007
By Jens Glüsing in Rio de Janeiro
For Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, television is the ultimate instrument of power. Now, despite every protest, he has let the license expire for RCTV, a private station that has long been critical of the government. The country's last remaining opposition channel must now fear for its future, too.
Using water cannons, tear gas and rubber bullets, the police used brute force against the close to 5,000 protesters. They had gathered on Monday to protest the shutdown of private TV channel Radio Caracas Television (RCTV), which had been critical of the government. Afterwards, small groups of demonstrators engaged in skirmishes with the police in several locations in the Venezuelan capital. At least three demonstrators and one policeman were injured.
Protests also occurred in the university town of Valencia on Monday. Four students were injured. At the protest rally in Caracas, RCTV anchorman Miguel Angel Rodriguez called out: "They will not silence us!" But the new public TV channel Tves was already broadcasting on RCTV's former frequency by then.

Go to the following link and see the complete article of "Chavez on every Channel"


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Friday, June 15, 2007

OAS: The Organization of Anti-Democratic States

OAS: The Organization Of Anti-Democratic States
By Gustavo Coronel
June 11, 2007
Such a beautiful charter! Such an impressive Inter-American Democratic Charter! The words are noble: "any alteration of the democratic order in a state of the hemisphere constitutes an obstacle to the participation of that state in the Summits of the Americas process;" "solidarity among American States require the effective exercise of representative democracy;" "The protection of human rights is a basic prerequisite for the existence of a democratic society; "The organization's mission is not limited to the defense of democracy wherever its fundamental principles have collapsed but also calls for ongoing and creative work to consolidate democracy;" "The peoples of the Americas have a right to democracy and their governments have an obligation to promote and defend it;" "The effective exercise of representative democracy is the basis for the rule of law...."
I could go on and on, quoting the documents that contain the principles and values on which the Organization of American States was based. These documents are housed on an impressive white building in the heart of Washington, D.C., the capital of the country where democracy has attained its maximum development and strength. Long and sleek black limousines arrive to the doors of the gleaming building with their precious cargo of well-dressed and manicured ambassadors, ladies and gentlemen of solemn aspect, conscious of the burden of responsibility they carry. They are the guardians of democracy, they are the spokespersons for the millions of poor and suffering Latin Americans, still trying to abandon a world of misery and ignorance that has kept them as slaves for centuries. They live in beautiful mansions in one of the most beautiful cities on Earth. They are important. They can go home in the evenings satisfied with their efforts in favor of their peoples.
Right? Wrong. These men and women are not the spokespersons for Latin Americans. They are employees paid by governments to represent their interests. As such, everyday that they go to meetings and stand up to speak in the luxurious halls of the Organization, they do so in the name and by express orders of their masters back home. They are not champions for the oppressed but messengers of the powerful. When instructed to do so they will betray the very words that form the ethical and political backbone of the organization. They will not hesitate in assassinating democracy while warmly speaking about the need to defend it. In the name of non-intervention and sovereignty they allow dictators and despots to violate constitutions, to repress popular protests, to imprison dissenter without due process, to indoctrinate Latin American children with the poison of totalitarianism.
They do this, not out of ignorance, not because they are honestly convinced that they are defenders of the right causes. They do it because this is their job. It is a job that pays well, that allows them to enjoy a very high quality of life, certainly much better than the one their millions of countrymen will ever dream of. Many of them will say: “If I don’t do this, there are many others willing to take my place." They have never heard of Emmanuel Kant and his categorical imperative, the central concept of human ethics: "Act only as if your action should become an universal law" or, "Act only as if your action is always an end and never a means." (Shorter versions of the longer formulations).
These concepts are not just empty philosophical distractions. They have to do with the consequences of one’s actions. The ambassadors at the OAS might feel that they are causing no great harm by being simple boxes of resonance of their governments but they are wrong. By failing to protect their true constituencies, the peoples of Latin America, and by upholding the narrow and often perverted interests and objectives of the powerful, they are responsible for keeping our millions of poor and ignorant countrymen slaves of tyrants, populists, opportunists and cowards. They have become part of the problem while believing to be part of the solution.
The recent meeting of the OAS in Panama was a hemispheric disgrace. The words of Condoleeza Rice in that reunion were followed by the silence of the lambs. Great paid displays in the Venezuelan newspapers by the dictator stated, "Venezuela has defeated the U.S. at the OAS.: If anything was defeated at that meeting was the cause of democracy. It seems paradoxical that the only voice to be heard in defense of democracy, freedom and human rights was that of the representative of the United States, the country that dictators such as Castro and Chavez and his errand boys Morales and Ortega call the "evil" empire. How can the men and women of the OAS, starting with the secretary general, Mr. Insulza, can live with their consciences is beyond my understanding.
There are honest ambassadors and officers within the OAS, trying to do the right thing. Obviously, my comments do not apply to them. It is a pity that they are a small minority.

© 2007 Gustavo Coronel


Venezuelans in Italy - Protesting the venezuelan government

Comunicato stampa
Siamo un gruppo di giovani Italo-Venezuelani che desiderano manifestare per portare alla luce gli eventi accaduti di recente nel Venezuela. Il governo venezuelano ha, infatti, appena negato il rinnovo della licenza ad uno dei canali più antichi della storia dei media venezuelani: Radio Caracas Televisiòn (RCTV).
La nostra protesta é a favore della libertá di espressione,dei diritti umani e in appoggio a gli studenti venezuelani che continuano a protestare pacificamente per la libertá di espressione.
Al suddetto canale non è stata rinnovata la licenza il 27 maggio 2007, dopo che l'attuale governo aveva annunciato il non rinnovo della stessa nel dicembre 2006. Come se non bastasse, gli apparecchi e mezzi di trasmissione del canale sono stati confiscati per consentire la trasmissione di un nuovo canale dello stato (TVES).
La manifestazione avrà luogo a Roma (domenica 17, in Piazza del Colosseo, dalle 15:30 alle 18:00) e a Milano (domenica 17 in Piazza Duca d'Aosta, di fronte alla Stazione Centrale, dalle 15:30 alle 18:00). Ad essa parteciperanno giovani studenti venezuelani ed italiani, ma ci auguriamo che partecipino tutti coloro che credono che la libertà di espressione e la difesa dei diritti umani siano valori imprescindibili di tutti i cittadini, indipendentemente dalle convinzioni politiche.
Ci vestiremo di nero in segno di lutto della libertá di espressione, portate i vostri striscioni (non devono avere nessun tipo di vicinanza politica) e bandiere del Venezuela

Libertá Venezuela--

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Latin America and the New Age of Mediocrity

A recent travesty in Latin American history was the failure of the Organization of American States to address Venezuela's media crisis when it assembled in Panama.
If, as an Afghan saying goes, a river is muddy from its source, it is clear that a lack of leadership, both at the OAS and in its member countries, contributed to this oversight, leaving Venezuela, if not the region, vulnerable to a further erosion of press freedoms.
Condoning the closure of a major television network in Venezuela, the OAS sent two signals: one, that Chavez will get away with illegal and unconstitutional measures; and two, that member nations will not punish each other for violating the democratic principles which purportedly underlie the OAS Charter.
For instance, Article 17 in Chapter IV of the Charter states that
"Each State has the right to develop its cultural, political, and economic life freely and naturally. In this free development, the State shall respect the rights of the individual and the principles of universal morality."
By failing to provide any legal procedure or justification for its refusal to renew RCTV's broadcast license, the Venezuelan government clearly violated the rights of Venezuelans to access information. The government's decision was purely political, and not "administrative" as claimed by Insulza. During an interview with Dow Jones that took place on May 31, Venezuela's special envoy Roy Chaderton said that the reason the government had renewed the licenses of other private networks was that they had amended their editorial stances to suit the government. "With (other stations) we took a political decision. They have rectified and the government considered it positive for democracy." His claim was corroborated in New York by Consul General Leonor Osorio during an interview with NY1Noticias en Espanol, during which she repeated Chaderton's stance in Madrid: "The renter has behaved badly, so we didn't renew his contract." To claim that the decision was administrative is a misguided attempt to cover the important fact that the Venezuelan government violated "the principles of universal morality", for which it must be investigated.
By failing to take any action regarding Venezuela, the Organization of American States has lost its mandate to ensure that nations in the Western Hemisphere adhere to democratic principles. The OAS, for all intents and purposes, has plenty of intent but no purpose.
Perhaps the leaders of member countries took this decision out of self preservation. Chavez, after all, has proven he has the political will and financial might to fight his woes, and he finds allies everywhere: Joe Kennedy helped him poke his finger in Bush's eye by facilitating cheap heating oil to poor communities in the US, Rafael Correa poked two fingers in Alvaro Noboa's eyes in Ecuador, Ollanta Humala made a mockery of Peru's sovereignty, and in Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador missed Felipe Calderon's eyes by one or two inches.
Chavez's candidates have won or nearly won everywhere. In fact, Chavez today sways more power over Latin nations than any other president.
His sole opponent, the US, is still scraping the egg off its face, as Condoleeza Rice's plea for an investigation of Venezuela's government blew through Panama like a breeze.
The mediocrity of the OAS leadership was well demonstrated in a recent interview conducted by El Pais, a leading Spanish newspaper, with OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza, who said the OAS wouldn't take measures against Venezuela for removing the most popular television network from a prominent VHF placement, exiling RCTV to satellite and cable, where opposition voices will never be heard again.
In the interview, it becomes eerily apparent that Insulza and other member nations disagreed with the measure against RCTV, but plan to do nothing to investigate it.
Meanwhile, Insulza, trying to save face or whatever reputation he can salvage among the civilized, has been pedaling like a storm-caught duck trying to justify the unjustifiable. Not only has he said in private meetings in Washington that he disagrees with the measure "in his heart", but he has expressed his observations in the media. In the disturbing interview with El Pais, titled "Latin America Avoids Confronting Chavez," he claims he was "displeased" by the government's decision, but could do nothing about it because Chavez's hadn't invited the OAS to Venezuela.
He ends by saying, "I hope Venezuela continues to be a democratic country." Clearly, a country with no dissenting voices on any VHF (Very High Frequency) channel - and where the only UHF channel courageous enough to question the government is under threat - can no longer be labeled "democratic".
Perhaps defining "democratic" is where Secretary General Insulza's ignorance lies.
Please review the article below, and draw your own conclusions. Ask yourself what greater men, such as Churchill would do. It seems the age of courage, wisdom, and might may have come to an end, at least in Latin America.

El Pais
Latin America Avoids Confronting Chavez
June 10, 2007
Despite the street protests in Caracas and political pressure emerging from the United States, the Organization of American States (OAS) is not going to take measures against Venezuela for the closure of the opposition channel Radio Caracas TV ( RCTV), according to an announcement by the secretary general of that multinational organization, José Miguel Insulza.
This decision, which means a victory for the Hugo Chávez government, reflects the will of the regional group of countries to avoid any conflict with the controversial Venezuelan president.
"The suspension of the Radio Caracas TV's concession is a measure not liked by member countries, but nobody has asked for a condemnation of something that constitutes an administrative decision by a government in whose governance we cannot interfere," thus affirms Insulza at an interview granted to EL PAÍS at his Washington office.
None of the OAS members requested measures against the Venezuelan government at the organization's General Assembly, held at the beginning of this week in Panama. Most of the countries, according to Latin American diplomatic sources, consider the closing down of RCTV to be an abusive measure by Hugo Chávez, but is not reason enough for provoking a confrontation with Venezuela, at the moment one of the most economically active counties on the continent thanks to the oil boom.
The leading Latin American governments fear, furthermore, that action by the OAS in answer to a decision they all make routinely-the concession and suspension of television licenses-would have set a very dangerous precedent.
Up until now the United States Executive Branch has not taken sides in the conflict with Chávez despite his continuous provocations. Nevertheless, its representative arrived at the OAS Assembly under pressure from a resolution by the US Senate approved unanimously a few days prior which condemned the closure of RCTV as an act "against freedom of expression" and petitioned the OAS for action.
Consequently, the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, at the Panama meeting petitioned the secretary general of the OAS to use his good offices to study the conditions under which RCTV was closed.
Insulza nevertheless explains in the interview that an action of this nature requires, according to the OAS Charter, the approval of the rest of the countries and the acceptance of the country being affected, none of which conditions were present.
On the one hand, at the Assembly none of the countries called out to condemn Venezuela. On the other hand, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolás Maduro had already warned in Panama that he would not give his consent to any kind of investigation by Insulza.
The Secretary General of the OAS is therefore disempowered from taking personal action in the matter. "I stand among those who were displeased by the RCTV decision, but nobody believes that this is reason for provoking a break-up within the institution," thus affirms Insulza.
Although he shares in the criterion that the closure of Radio Caracas TV constitutes "an administrative action," he believes that this measure "turned into a political sanction the moment the Venezuelan government adduced political reasons for taking such action."
Insulza recalls that the withdrawal of RCTV's license-officially was not renewed upon expiration of its term of issuance-took place after Chávez himself accused the channel of having supported the attempted coup d'état of 2002 and of habitually maintaining "fascist" points of view.
The Secretary General of the OAS expects, despite everything, to maintain contact with the member nations in order to study what other measures can be taken with respect to Venezuela. Nor does he discard the possibility of sometime traveling to that country in order to analyze the situation more closely, although he points out that that will not be soon.
"I hope Venezuela continues to be a democratic country. My mission is not going to be that of exacerbating the process of a break-up, because what this continent needs is unity," thus assured Insulza .
© Diario EL PAÍS S.L. - Miguel Yuste 40 - 28037 Madrid [España] - Tel. 91 337 8200

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Saturday, June 9, 2007

Students Continue Protest in Venezuela

A Bid to Ease Chavez's Power Grip
Students Continue Protests in Venezuela
President Threatens Violence
By Jose de Cordoba

The Wall Street Journal via Dow Jones
Caracas, Venezuela -- A student movement that has swept across Venezuela is posing a strong challenge to President Hugo Chavez's drive to extinguishindependent power centers in the universities and media.
Although Mr. Chavez continues to have a firm grip on the government, the student protests have demonstrated a broad uneasiness with his efforts todominate Venezuelan society.

Mr. Chavez's approval ratings have fallen and suspicion of his intentions has grown among Venezuelans. He also hasn't responded to the protests in a way that resonates with the public, many of whom view the students with sympathy. Instead, he has threatened to use violence to put down the demonstrations. InVenezuela, as in most Latin American countries, students have played an outsized political role, including in the country's transition to democracy in 1958.

Since he was first elected president in 1998, Mr. Chavez has brought to heel a number of once independent power centers in Venezuela - notably the oil industry, judiciary, military and legislature. The university system and a quickly diminishing sector of the Venezuelan media are among the few important institutions outside the ambit of his control.
The student protests were sparked by the closure in late May of an opposition television station, Radio Caracas Television, or RCTV. The students seek toconvince Mr. Chavez to give up plans to remake Venezuela's educational system.The closure of RCTV appeared to convince the students that Mr. Chavez meant business when he announced a plan to create a "revolution within the university." Students and professors fear that would mean an end to university autonomy and an imposition of Cuban-style socialist ideology.

"Mediocrity is what they want," says Carolina Rondon, who studies physical therapy in Caracas at the Central University of Venezuela, the country's largest university, as she prepared to join tens of thousands of other students on a protest march Wednesday. "We are marching to save our future." On the side of a building, a huge banner had just one word: "Freedom."

Student organizers have been careful to portray their movement not as antiChavez, but as pro-freedom of expression, and have kept their distance from the largely discredited leaders of Mr. Chavez's political opposition. Shunning violent confrontation, students have adapted tactics such as handing grim-faced riot police red carnations. One day this week, groups of students with their mouths taped shut rode the city's subways holding signs that said "Peace," and "Tolerance."

To help keep their plans secret from police and the National Guard, which hastried to keep students bottled up at different universities, student organizers use cellphone text messaging to spread the news on future protests.

The number of Venezuelans who have a favorable opinion of the president has fallen 10 percentage points to 39% since November, according to Hinterlaces, a Caracas pollster. Skyrocketing crime, inflation and shortages of basic food shave contributed to Mr. Chavez's fall in popularity since he won re-election by a landslide in December.
In the past, Mr. Chavez, who has spent billions of dollars on social-welfare programs aimed at the poor, has deftly manipulated Venezuela's sharp class divisions to portray his foes as U.S. manipulated "oligarchs."

That tactic hasn't worked this time, as students come from all walks of life and many are poor or working class. "You see all kinds of students here. There are no 'oligarchs,'" says Pamela Lora, a 20-year-old public-health student at UCV. "This has nothing to do with President Bush or with any 'empire,'" she scoffs.

The Chavez government has wavered in its response. After using tear gas and rubber bullets to break up student demonstrations last week, police have moderated their approach. On Wednesday, students were able to deliver their complaints personally to Attorney General Isaias Rodriguez, a Chavez hard-liner.

The state television network, which usually ignores anti-Chavez protests, broadcast the encounter. Mr. Rodriguez listened as student leader Eduardo Torres lectured him: "We are not delinquents, we are democrats and will stay on the streets."

The following day, student representatives delivered a message to Congress, which consists entirely of Chavez supporters because the opposition didn'tcontest the last legislative election.

Even some Chavez allies in the legislature are expressing dissatisfaction with the president's efforts to consolidate power.

But Mr. Chavez hasn't for sworn threats in dealing with the students, who he has accused of being the dupes of a U.S. plot to destabilize his government. At an hours-long press conference Wednesday, Mr. Chavez threatened to lead "the people" in about of "Jacobin revolutionary violence" against students.

Despite his slide in popularity, Mr. Chavez maintains a strong grip on power which the students will have a hard time loosening. Since 1998, Mr. Chavez has survived a short-lived coup and a two-month strike in the state-owned oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela SA, known as PDVSA. Along the way, he has purged the army and has used PDVSA as a piggy bank to fund his ambitious social-welfare program.

Mr. Chavez also controls the country's electoral system, judiciary and legislature.
Since he was re-elected in December, Mr. Chavez has moved against privatefirms, nationalizing Venezuela's main telephone company and power company whilewresting control of billion-dollar projects from foreign oil firms.

The student protests began after Mr. Chavez refused to renew the broadcastlicense of RCTV, arguing that the outlet had tried to destabilize his government, been disrespectful of authority and endangered children's morals by showing spicy programming. A Hinterlaces poll showed about 80% of Venezuelans opposed the closure, which also unleashed a barrage of international and domestic criticism. Since then, Mr. Chavez threatened to cancel the license of Globovision, the sole remaining broadcaster that is critical of his rule.

Now, neither Mr. Chavez nor the students seems certain what to do next. Venezuela is scheduled to host teams from the hemisphere for the Copa America soccer tournament this month and would want to avoid scenes of police clashing with students broadcast across Latin America. He may be hoping that protests will peter out as students face final exams and leave on summer vacation.

The students aren't sure how far to take their protests either. This week, at daily morning planning meetings in every university in Caracas, students debated how to balance academic concerns and political action. "I'm prepared to lose a year of my career and two months of classes in exchange for the future we will build," said one ponytailed student delegate at an assembly at Andres Bello Catholic University this week, to a thunderous round of applause.

Peter Millard contributed to this article.

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Wednesday, June 6, 2007


June 6, 2007
Op-Ed Contributor
Silence = Despotism
Stanford, Calif.
POLITICAL democracy will take root in Latin America only when it is accompanied by economic and social democracy. Likewise, Latin Americans will be able to achieve sustained economic growth and eliminate extreme poverty only when our political systems are free and fair for all.
The ability of our citizens — all of them — to be heard is an integral part of this process. If freedom of speech is restricted in one of our countries, silence could spread to other nations, especially those with leaders who wish to be permanently flattered.

Today, the people of one of our sister nations, Venezuela, are in the streets confronting repression. Courageous students raise flags of freedom, refusing to mortgage their future by remaining silent in the present. The situation began on May 28, when President Hugo Chávez refused to renew the license of Radio Caracas Televisión, or RCTV, thereby suppressing the most prominent outlet for critics of his leadership.

This is about more than one TV station. President Chávez has become a destabilizing figure throughout the hemisphere because he feels he can silence anyone with opposing thoughts. He wishes to hear only his own voice, to see his own face replicated a thousand times on the television channels that he controls. He ignores the fact that the true revolution of our era consists of listening to others rather than silencing them through repression or government decrees.

The rest of Latin America’s leaders cannot remain indifferent to the closing of RCTV or to Mr. Chávez’s threats to close other media outlets that give time to opposing opinions. Those of us who confronted authoritarianism in the past must again stand up for continent-wide solidarity.
This should be a perfect moment: this week the Organization of American States holds its annual general assembly in Panama. Unfortunately, the RCTV issue was not on the official agenda of the plenary session.

This is a shame — it falls well within the confines of the organization’s charter, which holds that “when situations arise in a member state that may affect the development of its democratic political institutional process or the legitimate exercise of power,” the O.A.S. “will undertake a collective assessment of the situation and, where necessary, may adopt decisions for the preservation of the democratic system and its strengthening.”

The stakes here go well beyond Venezuela and Mr. Chávez. I know this from experience. Before my presidency, Peru was submerged in severe authoritarianism. Much of the news media had entered into serious collusion with the authoritarian government of President Alberto Fujimori in the 1990s. After my election, some of those TV stations and newspapers voiced strident opposition to my democratic administration and challenged my authority and legitimacy.

Yet it never occurred to me to silence these media outlets or to nationalize them — though it would have been easy to fall prey to populist temptations. I recognize how difficult it is to govern democratically. This is a challenge that faces all the leaders of our region. Presidents may be elected democratically, but it is more important to govern democratically, even with an opposing press that reports different opinions.

When one voice is silenced, we all become mute. When one thought is eliminated, we all lose some awareness. And when a space for the expression of ideas becomes closed, we all become trapped in the dungeons of dictatorship. The authoritarian populism of Venezuela strives to convert all of the people of Latin America into silent citizens, and we cannot permit this.
Latin America’s common enemies are poverty, inequality and exclusion — not dissident thought. Hunger is not fought by silencing critics. Unemployment does not disappear by exiling those who think differently. We cannot have bread without liberty. We cannot have nations without democracy.

In sharing my convictions about democracy and social justice, I do not mean to single out one nation or leader. I am simply exercising my democratic right as a Latin American citizen, a right for which countless people from all our nations have been imprisoned, tortured and killed in recent decades.

One of the greatest lessons I learned in my political career was to always be respectful of opinions that differ from my own. Yet I will never agree with those who prefer silence instead of dissonant voices. Those of us who embrace liberty and democracy must stand ready to work in solidarity with the Venezuelan people.

I hope that the legitimate governments of Latin America, and their representatives to the Organization of American States, will stand with me.

Alejandro Toledo, the president of Peru from 2001 to 2006, is a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University and the president of the Center for Democracy and Development in Latin America in Lima, Peru.

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

Hugo & The Media Kings


June 6, 2007 -- ON our TV screens in America, we see Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his army of thugs cracking down on the hundreds of thousands of students protesting the shutdown of the nation's last truly independent TV station. Yet, inside the story of "the dictator vs. the forces of freedom," is a tale of two Venezuelan media kings - one heroic, one craven.
Chavez's shutdown of RCTV late last month (by refusing to renew its broadcast license) was meant to be the final move in his drive to shut down all independent voices.
In the eight years since he took the presidency, journalism has become one of Venezuela's most dangerous professions. The government and its supporters have regularly harassed, frequently beaten and sometimes killed reporters. Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Freedom House and Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and others have all condemned the Chavez government's war on the media.
RCTV had broadcast for 50 years and had become a strident critic of the Chavez regime. As the last major voice reporting anything but the government line, it was the country's most popular TV station.
The hero is RCTV's director, Marcel Granier - who received no legal notice of the shutdown. He first learned of it when Chavez announced that RCTV would be punished for criticizing the government, for being "bourgeois" and for "coup plotting." (As a final insult, the government two days before the shutdown produced a judge who ordered RCTV's equipment seized and "loaned" to a new government station that has now replaced it.)
In response, Granier has risked his life and fortune for the sake of freedom of expression. He has kept his TV reporters working; they're now broadcasting news segments on the student protests via YouTube, other Web sites and viral videos. The Congress' vice president has called for his arrest for "destabilizing."
A Venezuelan official openly described the RCTV closing as part of a plan for "communicational hegemony" over information and programming. One free TV station remains, Globovision, but its coverage is not nationwide and its viewers are limited to Venezuela's middle class.
Plus, a day after the RCTV shutdown, Chavez called for a probe of Globovision and threatened to cancel its license. He also taunted the station's director: "Are you prepared to die?"
Regime apologists will point to one other "independent" station, the privately held Venevision - which brings us to our media villain.
At first, Venevision did indeed harshly criticize Chavez. But in 2004 Chavez accused the station's owner, New York-based Gustavo Cisneros, of being behind a plot to overthrow the government. After a private meeting between the two (attended by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter), Venevision changed course: Political commentary disappeared; opposition marches and statements by opposition leaders began getting short shrift; news became entirely rosy coverage of government activities.
How deep is the collusion between Cisneros and Chavez? Consider a December 2006 phone conversation between Cisneros' senior deputy at Venevision, Carlos Bardasano, and Jesus Romero Anselmi, head of the government TV channel, Venezolana de Television. (The recording was posted anonymously on YouTube.com; "mirror sites" have defeated the regime's attempts to suppress the record.) In the call, the executives agree that "together, we are unstoppable." They also joke about how Venevision might undergo a name change to reflect government ownership.
Cisneros, a Fifth Avenue socialite, is a media giant. He's on the board of Univision, the United States' largest Latino broadcaster; his firm owns dozens of radio, TV and other telecom properties.
He's also wont to attend media conferences in the United States, delivering speeches about the media's duty to ensure that the public gets the information it needs and ensure government transparency. But back in Venezuela, Venevision executives have yet to even make a statement about the RCTV shutdown. Of course, Cisneros also stands to benefit enormously from the ad revenue that used to go to the rival channel.
Fascism doesn't triumph without help.
Thor Halvorssen is president of the New York-based Human Rights Foundation, which chronicled the shutdown of RCTV at FreeRCTV.com.

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Monday, June 4, 2007

Chavez Attacks Last Opposition TV Station

Chavez Attacks Last Opposition TV Station
Critics of the government are unwanted in Venezuela. After refusing to renew the license broadcast for RCTV, President Hugo Chavez is now taking aim at the last remaining opposition channel. He's calling Globovision an "enemy of the state."

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is making threats against the country's last-remaining opposition channel.With Venezuela's RCTV now off the open airwaves (more...), President Hugo Chavez has set his sights on Globovision, the country's last remaining private broadcaster. In a speech that the president required all major Venezuelan networks to broadcast on Tuesday, Chavez declared the station to be an "enemy of state" that incites violence.
"Enemies of the homeland, particularly those behind the scenes, I will give you a name: Globovision," Chavez said in the speech. "Greetings gentlemen of Globovision, you should watch where you are going."
Chavez accused Globovision of attempting to incite his assassination and of misreporting the facts about protests over the closure of RCTV. He said the station was trying to foment a coup against the president similar to the one which Chavez survived in 2002. In doubt, he said, he would do what was necessary to stop the broadcaster, alluding to a possibility that he might force the station off the air. "I recommend that you take a tranquilizer and get into gear, because if not, I am going to do what is necessary," Chavez said.
Following Chavez's decision not to renew RCTV's broadcasting license on Sunday, Globovision, whose own license is not set to expire until 2014, has become the most important remaining medium for the country's political opposition. Chavez's left-wing government has already called on prosecutors to investigate Globovision for what he claims is an effort to incite his assassination. As proof he cites a feature broadcast by the station that included images of the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in 1981 accompanied by the song, "Have faith, this doesn't end here."

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Sunday, June 3, 2007

Carter's Chavezuela

There is not another person most nobel, and most guilty of what is happening in Venezuela than Carter. I am not negating the responsability of Venezuelans on what is going on.
We are by FAR thebiggest responsibles of all. But, if a list identifying foreigners (to Venezuela) that are responsible was created, then President Carter will be in the TOP, no as a top ten celebrity, but in the TOP as the number one.
President Carter, Carter Foundation, you are bloody responsible. You know what, what is the worst of all this, pretty soon we will be ableto proof so. Chavez come down, and we will be able to demonstrate thatyou accept their money. What a day.

Carter's Chavezuela
Posted Thursday, May 31, 2007 4:20 PM PTLeadership:
As unrest over freedom's end grows in Venezuela, out comes Jimmy Carter's Center, expressing "concern." That's rich. Carterplayed a leading role in trashing the press there, making dictatorship possible.
Jimmy Carter often wins praise as an international mediator, but it was precisely his mediation in two events in August 2004 that led to the turmoil now seen across Venezuela. Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans have taken to the streets crying"freedom" for two reasons: they're ruled by a dictator who's gathering absolute power, and they can't even complain because he's effectively ended free speech.
On May 27, dictator Hugo Chavez shut down Venezuela's largest TV station, RCTV, which had been openly critical of his regime, sending a strong message to other critics that the same fate awaits. Like many around the world, Carter has jumped on the bandwagon to claim concern. "Healthy democracies require spaces for political dialogue and debate," the Carter Center pontificated.
But Carter himself had a direct hand in the rise of the dictatorship and in weakening the free press. In 2004, Carter was an official observer to a rigged recall referendum. He swiftly declared it free and fair. Venezuelans cried fraud and chased Carter around Caracas, beating pots and pans. Despitethis, outside Venezuela, Carter's report was taken by the media as credible, and Chavez's regime used it to bolster its legitimacy.
The truth was far sorrier. Carter allowed Chavista officials to select ballot boxes for the observers to inspect and to keep them out of the counting room where fraud is most likely.
Carter ignored evidence of electronic rigging and dismissed red flags of irregularities raised by a number of economists.That wasn't the only problem he created. In 2004,Venezuela had four robust TV stations, all of which were underfire for their criticism of the regime. Chavez declared them "fourhorsemen of the apocalypse," and vowed to destroy them. Just a few days ahead of the August recall referendum, Carter mediated a meeting between one station owner, Venevision's Gustavo Cisneros, and Chavez. The result: Venevision ended its critical coverage ofChavez in exchange for its continued existence. As a result, another station, Televen, caved in, and RCTV stood alone with tiny Globovision, as Chavez critics.
For Chavez, it was a bonanza. Because of the media deal Carter mediated, not only did he get a supine press, but it became easier to shut down the lone hold outs who refused to halt criticism.
Thanks to Carter, Venezuela is now fighting to preserve what remains of its freedoms. Carter's strategy of appeasing predators and urgingcompromise on critical matters of principle leaves Venezuela a poorer, more oppressive place. Carter has much to answer for.

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Tread carefully, Mr Chavez.

Tread carefully, Mr Chavez.
Trinidad & Tobago Express Editorial
Friday, June 1st 2007
Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez's democratic credentials are wearing increasingly thin. In fact even those who support his genuine attempts to help Venezuela's majority poor in what, after all, is one of the biggest oil-producing countries in the world, must have been taken aback by his autocratic decision to close down Radio Caracas Television.

Mr Chavez contends that what he calls "a sovereign, legitimate decision in which there is no argument'' was made because the station, among other things, is aligned to those who oppose him - which, in fact it is. But that's the point in that there is no democracy without contending views and a really democratic leader has to accept this even to the point of encouraging if not entrenched dissent then, at least, differing public points of view.

But Mr Chavez does not intend to stop there. He has since threatened to close down the remaining opposition-sided channel, Globovision, which he charges has encouraged attempts on his life. He has also gone on to warn radio stations that they should not be inciting violence by "manipulating feelings'' among the populace.

We are certain that there are laws in Venezuela that prohibit encouragement to violence and it is certainly within the Venezuelan president's rights - obligations even - to invoke all the legal
processes at his command to deal with any such naked transgressions. But one has to be wary, even fearful, of leaders who threaten drastic suppression of free speech based on such abstractions as the manipulation of feelings.

Power, as we continue to see, can be a corrupting influence and absolute power can, as we have always heard, corrupt absolutely. In this context it is instructive that Mr Chavez has been legitimised by landslide victories in his country's polls. That can lead any head of government, so inclined, to believe that he has been given licence to do whatever he perceives to be in his or the country's interests assuming, that is, that he is capable of making any clinical distinction between the two.

But while election victories do give the winner a mandate, that mandate cannot be taken as a carte blanche endorsement of any presidential whim, with wiser leaders recognising the need for
restraint even when the endorsement is widespread and convincing.
Perhaps, more than ever, even then.


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Venezuelan Government Violence against Students

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Venezuela Si !! -- Cubazuela NO !!!

Venezuela Si !! -- Cubazuela NO !!!
May 30, 2007
Dear Friends:
Please be reminded of this article sent to you recently and pass it on to Venezuelan friends with a request that they use its rationale and language to begin using the slogan of "Venezuela, Si !! -- Cubazuela, NO !!!" on the streets in Caracas and all across the world.
Continued good wishes,
Jim Guirard

"CUBAZUELA" -- New Castroite Face of "Death to America" Terrorism
Author: Jim Guirard
Source: FamliySecurityMatters.org -- Feb. 5, 2007
A major January 27, 2007 editorial in the Washington Post, which is normally oblivious to Leftist threats to US national security, was entitled "Venezuela's Satellites." Correctly, it painted a dangerous picture of the rabid anti-Americanism which has spread in recent years from communist Cuba to three neo-Socialist regimes in South and Central America.
With Castro's Cuba still serving as their ideological base but with Hugo Chavez's Venezuela now serving as the BIG OIL financier of this fascist-Left foursome, the Post's editorial might better have been titled "Cubazuela's Empire" -- comprised of the Cuban motherland and the copy-cat (and the newly renamed) client states of Hugo Chavez's Cubazuela, Daniel Ortega's Cubaragua and Evo Morales' Cubalivia.
Even in normal times this would be worrisome news. But far worse during a Global War on Terrorism is the fact is that all of these Castroite regimes have brotherly "Death to America" relationships with the murderous likes of Iran, Syria, North Korea, al Qaeda, Hizballah and every other anti-Western entity on the planet. And add to this dark cloud the large weapons purchases now being made from both Russia and China, as well.
As "President For Life" Fidel Castro prepares to exit the scene after almost 50 years of single-party tyranny, he leaves a 70-percent Black Cuban dystopia of egalitarian poverty and silent suffering -- except, of course, for his and half-brother Raul's communist nomenclatura (Party bigwigs) whose all-White governing junta is still the Soviet era Politburo.
And as Fidel's "People's Paradise" baton is passed to Comrade Chavez, Horrible Hugo's own "Socialism or Death" and "President for Life" and "Death to America" and "Bush is the Devil" rantings are setting the scene for his people to suffer exactly the same torments that a half century of fascist-Left Fidelismo has brought to the Cuban people.
Eye-opener -- The Cuba-Chile Comparison
The extent of this socio-economic and civil liberties tragedy for the Cuban people since 1960 can best be understood by a detailed comparison between what has happened in Cuba and in Chile during these almost five decades.
From a roughly equal standing in most relevant factors (gross national product, personal income, housing, retirement security, property ownership, capital investment, human rights, manufacturing, agriculture, trade and commerce, etc.) a free-enterprise and quasi-welfare-state Chile has achieved three or four times the socio-economic well-being of a "socialism or death" Cuba.
Those naïve souls who excuse this half century of brutality and deprivation by citing Cuba's grassroots literacy program and broad-based (but largely rudimentary) health services should be forced to admit that two of Nazi Germany's major prewar energizers involved the lockstep efficient education of "Hitler Youth" and the physical fitness of the entire German population -- all the better to serve the anticipated "Thousand Year Reich," of course.
As Dr. Enrique Canton and Dr. Sergio de Paz of the Florida-based Commission of Studies for the Freedom of Cuba have observed: "... education and health are used in the island-prison as implacable instruments of ideological, mental and psychological control of the unfortunate citizens."
These same deadly comparisons will in due course apply to a socialist and increasingly "communoid" (communist-like) Cubazuela, as well -- though the process of deterioration will be masked and somewhat delayed by that former democracy's enormous "nationalized" income from oil exports.
Finally, there is an easy way to confirm both the accuracy and the street-corner viability of the new "Cubazuela" label for this rapidly disappearing Latino democracy -- which is even now being ruled almost entirely (and "legally" so, according to a unanimous vote of the lap-dog Congress) by Presidential Fiat, which is nothing but a euphemism for dictatorship.
Simply take time to Google-search the new label and observe how persuasively and how widely it is already spreading in both English-language and Latino commentary.
Contributing Editor Jim Guirard was longtime Chief of Staff to former US Senators Allen Ellender and Russell Long. His new TrueSpeak Institute is devoted to truth-in-language and truth-in-history in public discourse. Justcauses@aol.com and www.Truespeak.org

Protests in Venezuela Reinvigorate Opposition

Protests in Venezuela Reinvigorate Opposition
Rallies by Free Press Advocates Deride Chávez Over TV License
By Juan Forero
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, June 2, 2007; A08
BOGOTA, Colombia, June 1 -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez's decision to pull the plug on an anti-government television station has prompted days of protests and generated international condemnation, giving a weak and demoralized opposition a rallying cry after years of setbacks.
University students carrying flags and chanting, "We are students, not coup plotters," faced off Friday with riot police at Caracas's Andres Bello Catholic University. Nearly 200 protesters have been arrested since Sunday, when Radio Caracas Television, or RCTV, aired its last broadcast after 54 years.
Authorities here say that RCTV supported a coup that dislodged Chávez for two days in 2002 and consistently violated a range of telecommunications regulations, leading the government not to renew its broadcast license when it expired.
But press freedom groups note that the station has not been officially sanctioned, nor have its owners or managers been charged with conspiracy against the state. Other private stations that were harshly anti-Chávez but have toned down critical coverage avoided the same fate, as communications Minister William Lara readily acknowledged in an interview broadcast Friday on CNN's Spanish-language service.
Polls show that 65 to 80 percent of Venezuelan respondents disagreed with the government's decision to end RCTV's concession, though many were simply upset that they wouldn't be able to see some of their favorite soap operas.
The widespread dissatisfaction has reenergized an opposition movement that lost much of its momentum after its efforts to recall Chávez were defeated in 2004 and after its decision to boycott parliamentary elections in 2005 left it without representation in the National Assembly.
"This has been politically disastrous for Chávez, domestically and internationally," Teodoro Petkoff, a newspaper editor in Caracas who believes Chávez's government is becoming increasingly autocratic, said by telephone from Caracas. "He's found nothing but condemnation all over the world."
Manuel Rosales, a governor and opposition leader who lost to Chávez in December's presidential election, has called on Venezuelans to hit the streets and protest what he has called a dictatorial move. "We'll give the last breath of our lives to be sure Venezuela doesn't lose its freedoms," he told reporters this week.
While condemnation from the Bush administration, an ideological foe of Venezuela, was expected, criticism has come from many quarters around the world, some of them surprising.
Spain's Socialist government, in a joint declaration with the United States, called Friday for Chávez to renew RCTV's license. The European Parliament voiced concern, and Brazil's Senate passed a resolution calling on Chávez to reconsider, drawing a sharp rebuke from the Venezuelan leader.
"A head of state who doesn't know how to live with democratic manifestation, such as that of the Brazilian Senate, is probably against democracy," the president of that body, Renan Calheiros, said in response.
Reporters Without Borders, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, the Chilean Senate and the Atlanta-based Carter Center have said freedom of expression could be in peril in Venezuela. "I think this weakens the Chávez government's argument that it furthers free expression," said Carlos Lauria, who has studied the case for the Committee to Protect Journalists. "It debilitates that argument."
The criticism has prompted a full-scale diplomatic offensive by the Venezuelan government.
In the United States, Venezuelan Ambassador Bernardo Alvarez told CNN that the RCTV workers would be able to find other jobs. Other government representatives stressed repeatedly that the non-renewal was little more than a bureaucratic measure.
In an interview with Colombia's Caracol Radio on Thursday, Roy Chaderton, a former Venezuelan foreign minister who serves as a special envoy, argued that RCTV remained a danger to Chávez's government.
Noting that the station recently aired "Feast of the Goat," a film based on the novel by Mario Vargas Llosa about a tyrannical dictator and the uprising against him, Chaderton said the intention was to "cultivate" the idea of assassinating Chávez as a solution to Venezuela's problems.
Chávez, speaking Thursday, warned that "international rightist, extreme-rightist and fascist movements are attacking Venezuela from everywhere -- from Europe, the United States, Brasilia." That theme -- that Chávez is in mortal danger -- is constant in Venezuela, and political analysts say it is used to manipulate public opinion.
Michael Shifter, a senior analyst for the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington policy group that closely follows Venezuela, said he didn't think it would get much traction this time.
"All of his previous attacks were on the corrupt capitalists, but this goes way beyond that and it touches on Venezuela's cultural identity," Shifter said of Chávez. "It's very hard for him to talk of the rancid oligarchy here. These are university students protesting, not part of the old order."
Still, Venezuela's government seems intent on taking harsh action against its critics. The government has announced that it has begun a legal fight against Globovision, a 24-hour news cable station that is the lone dissenting TV outlet in the country now that RCTV is only on the Internet.
Globovision is providing highly critical coverage in the wake of the RCTV closing. Lara, the communications minister, said the government would investigate after the station broadcast images of the 1981 assassination attempt against Pope John Paul II. Officials said that was designed to spur a plot against the Venezuelan leader.
Chávez later publicly warned the station, saying, "I recommend that you take a tranquilizer, that you take it easy, because if not, I'm going to make you take it easy."
José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director of the New York-based group Human Rights Watch, said Venezuelan government officials "just don't get it."
"They think that they're entitled to keep politicizing this issue," he said. "I don't think they understand the concept of a free media and the respect it requires in an open society."

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From the Economist Today


Pinocchio TV - Do you see your nose?

Pinocchio. TV es la nariz? (Do you see your nose)

by Laureano Marquez

On Tuesday, on an obligatory nationwide TV (cadena), they told us the tale of Pinocchio (How curious, how strange and what a coincidence! : a TV station is now considered to be dignified when it shows cartoons while people protest in the streets).

A Pinocchio of the XXIst. Century, who has nothing to do with the capitalist ideology with which Walt Disney has sold us history, almost centenary of Carlo Collodi. It happens to be, in this version, of an endogenous puppet that interprets the dialectic process of society, who does not lie, but strips off the facts of its ideological content, molding reality for each circumstance. Thus, for example, according to the latest part of the tale:

  • An opposition student is not necessarily a student. If he is a student, he is being manipulated, has no convictions· If they have convictions, they are the ones of the Empire that thru the CIA, buys consciences.

  • If the CIA has bought them, it is to use them as meat for the slaughterhouse (A terrible statement when it is made by the owner of the slaughterhouse. ) and the irresponsible parents.

  • They are numerically insignificant, only the tricks of the mediatic manipulation make them appear as a crowd. On the other hand,

  • The pro-Chavez student is a conscientious and critical being.· He marches because of his convictions. Nothing is behind him.

  • He can reach the Miraflores Presidential Palace because he is part of the “people”· There are always millions of them. Their parents do well in letting them march, they are young and should have a conscience, not go lazing around like the other ones. But on top of that:

  • Actors do not suffer, they are trained to cry· If violence is exercised on the part of pro-Chavez forces (including the use of weapons) it is not violence, it is part of the defense of the pretty fatherland.

  • When someone in the opposition calls for a demonstration, he is a conspirator. But if, from the heights of power, you convoke your supporters to instill fear, it is the pretty fatherland that is being protected.

  • The image of the attempt on John Paul II’s life is an invitation to kill Chavez.

  • And last, it was not a shutdown, it was the end of the concession.

How many times am I going to say it! These and many other things came out of the mouth of Pinocchio. Nobody dared say it, but they all noticed that the nose was growing and growing. It was so public and noticeable that people were trying to get away from him to avoid being hit by it. It was very curious, by the way, that the more it grew, the less the sense of smell.

Meanwhile, Jiminy Cricket, “in an infinite chant of peace”, travels around the streets of the country, shouting to the world that in this country there is still conscience and hope. It is no surprise that some have begun calling that crowd of crickets that whistles in the streets “The generation of the 28th”

Laureano Márquez

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Summary on Venezuela - RCTV

Caracas, 3 June 2007
By Enrique ter Horst
The cancellation of RCTV’s license is proving to be Chávez‚ most costly political mistake since his first election to the Presidency eight years ago. International condemnation, including the European Parliament and the Brazilian and US Senates, has been strong and unanimous, with the exception of Cuba, as videos of the large and growing student demonstrations dissolved with tear gas and pellets are shown around the world.
The nightly banging of casseroles protesting Chávez‚ decision is now also loudly heard in most working-class neighborhoods of Caracas and the interior. The disappearance of RCTV appears to have led to the sudden and increasingly generalized realization that the regime is now moving from words to deeds, and that it is fast becoming a dictatorship.
Insult was added to injury by the Supreme Tribunal of Justice’s arbitrary decision “temporarily” impounding RCTV’s transmission infrastructure (24 hours before the new state TV station TVes initiated its transmissions), in disregard of the well established expropriation procedure, the clearest sign yet of the TSJ’s complete subservience to the Executive.
The Dean and Directors of the Faculty of Law of the Central University published on 31 May a declaration in the national press stating that the legal protection of private property in Venezuela had ceased to exist.
The student protests that started on Monday 28th have, by all accounts, been spontaneous, and they have carefully avoided any association with opposition political parties and politicians. One “politico” who attempted to speak at the first rally on Monday was unceremoniously requested to leave the speakers platform. The only politician who addressed the protesters this week has been Leopoldo López, the mayor of Chacao, where the rally was taking place.
Two of the spokesmen of the movement, Jon Goicochea, a fourth year law student at the UCAB Catholic University, and Stalin Gonzalez, the President of the federation of student centers of the UCV, the Central University, have stressed that the protest movement is not part of the opposition, just students from all social classes. See their website at http://www.resistenciaestudiantilve.blogspot.com/
RCTV, particularly the President of its holding company, Marcel Granier, had carried out in the week before the shut-down a campaign highlighting the discriminatory character of the decision and Chávez‚ very public vindictiveness, clearly showing the political motivation of the decision.
The last day of transmission was a very emotional, even schmaltzy affair that went down very well with the public at large, not only with the usual soap opera audience.
Granier’s courageous and statesmanlike performances vastly improved his image of a ruthless operator, with a 50% approval rate in the last Hinterlaces tracking poll covering the week after the closure.
Intimidation of the media has been a trait of this government ever since it came to power 8 years ago. The two year old Radio and Television Social Responsibility Law gives 4th tier public officials broad discretionary power to fine and close media that deviate from very strict programming constraints (punitive fines and taxes have already been levied against the main TV stations), and media offices have suffered in the last 8 years some 130 attacks by government controlled hoodlums, with two attempts to burn down RCTV headquarters in the center of Caracas.
Reporters working for media considered unfriendly to the Government have been barred from official events, and those covering opposition marches have been tear-gassed and shot at. 10 have been killed on these and other occasions, and 215 wounded in the same 8 years. Self-censorship is increasing, also in parts of the printed media that until recently had investigated delicate subjects and published its findings fully.
Pages 54 to 58 of the last annual report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, http://www.cidh.org/annualrep/2006eng/TOC.htm provide an update on the year 2006. The closure of RCTV is but the latest and most visible of a stream of announcements, declarations and events since Chavez‚ reelection six months ago preparing the ground for the establishment of a controlled society ensuring Chávez‚ indefinite hold on power. This includes the creation of the Unified Socialist Party of Venezuela, reforming the Constitution to establish a centralized State and consecrating the indefinite reelection of the President, transforming the Armed Forces into an instrument of the revolution, and attaining what former Communications Minister Izarra himself called the "hegemony of the media".
The government now owns or controls the vast majority of TV stations, radio stations, and newspapers.
The government’s failure to deliver a better standard of living has, however, also become more evident. Public security has taken a sharp turn for the worse, and the mismanagement of the economy is starting to take its toll. Inflation has taken the elevator as fiscal discipline has been replaced by political priorities, and the scarcity of food staples appears to have become chronic as demand fueled by high oil prices has exploded while investment in production, scared off by Chávez‚ radical discourse, has fallen to a trickle.
The poor have lost their relative food security as the effectiveness of the subsidized Mercal network has been undermined by corruption. All of the above is happening at a time when Chávez is critically vulnerable: his announced five-engine strategy towards the Socialism of the XXIst Century has been explained and initiated, but the transition is encountering stiff opposition: this is still a consumer-oriented market economy and an open society strongly attached to its freedom of expression and its liberal education system; the announced reform of the Constitution has been postponed to next year.
Yesterday he cited Gramsci again: „the old system has difficulty dying, and the new one has trouble being born”. However, his next announced objective is stripping the universities of their academic autonomy and independent governance, an explosive subject that is not foreign to the present turbulence.
His MVR has never been able to win an election in any of the main autonomous universities.It is too early to conclude that the RCTV shut-down has been the catalyzer of a broad based movement that will force Chávez to either change course or lose power. However, as the decision is squarely attributed to the President personally, he is also the sole target of the sentiment of cold outrage cutting across all social classes, a sentiment that has settled in, possibly to stay, kept alive by the inability to tune in to ones‚ favorite soap opera, but also by insecurity, scarcity and high food prices.
According to Oscar Schemel of Hinterlaces, the only polling outfit with a long established network of focus groups in the poorest neighborhoods, his tracking exercise carried out last week shows that Chávez‚ support has fallen to 36% (from 63% on election day), and 70% now believe that private property is threatened. 70% also agree with the peaceful protests and want them to continue. Fully 60% find Chávez to be an arbitrary and authoritarian President and feel threatened by him, and fully 83% oppose the shut-down.
Schemel had accurately predicted the presidential election two days before it was held. At this time Chávez no longer has the support of the majority of Venezuelans. Furthermore, shutting down RCTV might have inflicted an irreparable blow to Chávez‚ strategy of polarizing the poor against those better off and banking on their support to win all elections. The question arises if the RCTV issue and the brutal manner in which he handled it has broken the magic bond that existed between him and the impoverished majority, and if the distinction the poor had always made between the President and his very incompetent and corrupt governments will survive this deep disappointment, or if as of now all problems will be blamed on him alone.
Much will depend on how Chávez responds, but it seems that it will not be possible to put humpty together again. The cumulative effect of his many mistakes, his half-baked dogmatism and the critical stage reached by his radical project push him to move forward.
Yesterday he again said that “this revolution has come to stay”. Most observers believe that a phase of more open and aggressive repression is about to start, an impression also strongly supported by his enraged statement last Monday that he would not hesitate to call on the poor to “come down from the hills” to stop the oligarchy from toppling him, as well as by his statement yesterday that it was not necessary to wait for a license to lapse in order to close a media outlet, a clear reference to small Globovision, the last TV station that openly opposes his regime.
Many observers believe that the beginning of the end has started. Some believe that the agony is likely to be a long and painful one, but they could be wrong.

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