Archive for December 14th, 2002

Fausto Maso on media objectivity

December 14, 2002

In today’s El Nacional (page A-7), columnist Fausto Maso writes an article on media objectivity which I am sure is in response to yesterday’s press conference between the local media and foreign correspondents in which the objectivity of local media was repeatedly questioned. I took the liberty of translating it freely:


(Picture of yesterday’s march, an everyday affair)

The cowardice of false objectivity by Fausto Maso

Good reporting presents both sides of a story, it opens pages or microphones to diverse opinions, but it is not silenced when faced by a crime: it doesn’t confuse objectivity with complicity. Our Schools of Journalism, specially that of Universidad Central de Venezuela, always rejected the false objectivity which conceals that cowardice. The New York Times did not cross its arms on September 11 2001, nor do the American or British reporters go around the world looking for inteviews with Bin Laden and his followers, nor do they publish in front page their statements. In Spain they call ETA a terrorist organization. Great reporters never informed about Vietnam aseptically, neither are they neutral in Colombia with the guerrilla. They take sides. Some foreign correspondents belive innocently that in Venezuela two sides are facing each other in a civil war, they suppose that they are witnessing a fight between rich and poor. They are more lost than Lindbergh’s son! The threat against Venezuelans is genocide, the killing of unarmed civilians in the hands of those backed by the Government. What Cicil War? Pots against machine guns! You have got to be kidding me….Can we be neutral? Noooooooooo…

Quotes from the Financial Times article

December 14, 2002

As usual, my friend Andy Webb-Vidal writes a good insightful article in the Financial Times about Venezuela. Some Excerpts:

“As pressure mounts, it seems all that stands between the former paratrooper and the implosion of his regime are the “Bolivarian Circles”, a highly mobile network of hardline supporters ready to descend from the barrios that ring the capital.”

“Members of Bolivarian Circles and the closely linked Tupamaros have already been in action this week, ransacking several television stations, apparently with impunity. Opponents of Mr Chávez have even alleged they are receiving training from Colombia’s Farc guerrillas, as well as from Cuban government agents. The government says the allegations are propaganda”

“If we don’t find a solution at the negotiating table, the differences will be settled on the street,” warned César Gaviria, the secretary- general of the OAS.

“If the situation deteriorates further the armed forces may again play the role of arbiter of last resort. According to General Enrique Medina, leader of a group of dissident officers, it is only a matter of time before a critical mass once more emerges within the military and the generals ask the president to resign”

“The dimension of the strike demonstrates that the country is no longer governable, the president can’t execute his threats, and so he’s showing real weakness,” said Alfredo Keller, a Caracas-based political analyst.

“The longer the government waits to recognise the crisis, the more likely it will be that the military is pushed into asking the president to resign, effectively a bloodless coup.”

Government loses internationally

December 14, 2002

The Venezuelan Government, which has been very good at selling internationally an image of the opposition and the media as “coupsters” or “terrorists” has begun to lose its image internationally this week. The Government suffered essentially three defeats:

-The Interamerican Human Rights Commission report blasted the Chavez Government all around.

-The U.S. drastically changed its position when The White House itself issued a press release calling for early elections as soon as possible.

-Venezuela’s proposed resolution at the OAS was rejected by the major Latin-American countries, including Brazil, Argentian, Colombia, Mexico, Ecuador and Peru, together with Canada and the US. The US Ambassador to the OAS had harsh words for the Venezuelan proposal saying what was needed was a serious proposal. Caribbean nations under the CARICOM were in favor of the resolution, likely pressured by a Government that sells oil to them under preferential terms.

There are a number of reasons for this chain of events. First of all, the presence of Cesar Gaviria in Caracas for over a month has allowed the Secretary General of the OAS to see firsthand the behavior of teh Chavez administration. Second, the attack on the media on Tuesday night was seen by all of the Ambassadors in Caracas, who we are sure reported back to their own Government. Last, but not least, The Democratic Coordinator sent a team of highly respected lawyers with diplomatic experience to explain to all of the Amabassadors to the OAS the true situation in Venezuela, including documents and videos of what the Chavez administration has been doing.  

I view these events as defeats for the Government, rather than victories for the opposition. But we needed them, as when and if, Venezuelans resolve the current crisis, the opposition is going to need full international cooperation. The solution at this time is not even the consultative referendum that the Government continues to block. The negotiating table does not even consider this a negotiable item. The negotiation is now an amendment to the Constitution in the first quarter of 2003 under international supervision. However, the general strike is creating a situation where anything may happen in teh next few days unless the Government presents significant concessions over teh weekend.