Government sanctions TV station, protestors reappear in Caracas

October 3, 2003

Just got in late, was not able to post much, maybe it was better that way. There can be many interpretations to what happened today at TV station Globovision. The Government confiscated equipment saying that it was transmitting at a frequency for which Globovision has no permits. The frequency that appeared in the paperwork is one for which Conatel technicians (This was all broadcast live, while it was being discussed have certified the equipment is not using and the equipment transmits at the frequency approved. The lawyer said, yes…but, something is missing from that other request. Additionally, in Venezuela you can not apply a sanction, without giving the other side the right to defend itself which Globovision has not been able to do.

In any case, this led to protests in front of Conatel (The media and telecom regulator) and in front of Globovision. People spontaneously went to both. Both protests were peaceful. However, Globovision executives and the police had to protect the CONATEL people so that they could leave the Globovision headquarters. In contrast, The National Guard used tear gas at the CONATEL headquarters to disperse, despite the fact that it was a perfectly peaceful demonstration. Once again, using tear gas against the people has become a daily and routine occurrence. Meanwhile, the Interamerican Human Rights Commission issued tonight precautionary measures to protect Globovision. The US State Department expressed its concerns about threats to freedom of speech in Venezuela. All of this happened at the same time, the Venezuelan Attorney General refused to supervise the action by CONATEL. While COFAVIC, the Venezuelan Human Rights organization expressed its concerns that the rights to due process were not respected by CONATEL. The Secretary General of the OAS also expressed its concerns in a press release. My interpretation of the Government’s actions in a little while.

Note added: An interesting side to this story was Deputy Pedro Castillo showing up in Globovision denouncing that one of the CONATEL officials leading the group applying the sanctions is none other than Hugo Tirado, the former Head of Security for Cojedes State, who Deputy Castillo accused a few months ago of being an arms trafficker and training guerilla/paramilitary groups at a fort in that state. I was surprised I could not find any link to that part of the story, since I saw it live on TV, but here is one. This is not a new charge, here is a very long article in a local paper explaining the charges against Tirado when 115 Israeli machine guns became only 60 and the Attorney General’s office ordered them confiscated. Deputy Castillo has been asking that these charges be investigated and documented, to no avail. Instead, the accused, who Castillo has shown pictures of training paramilitary groups is hired by CONATEL. The connection? Easy. The Head of Conatel Jesse Chacon and Tirado, are both former army officers, both participated in the 1992 coup led, among others, by Hugo Chavez.

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