July 23, 2004

Last Wednesday, CNE Director Jorge Rodriguez sent a “request” to Globovisión asking that the documentary ¿Cuál Revolución? (Which revolution?) not be shown because it violated the rules for campaigning established by the CNE. The problem was that the documentary is a documentary about Chávez and his Government which in no way promotes people to vote one way or the other.


The day after Director Rodriguez made his request, that one time strong and staunch defender of free speech and now Vice-President, José Vicente Rangel, actually came out and said that he agreed with the request, because it was not censorship. Well, it was, and everyone perceived it that way and the scandal actually helped propel the somewhat obscure documentary into center stage and by now it has become a bestseller thanks to the Government’s actions. In fact, much to the consternation of the Chavistas, free markets went immediately into action and by today street sellers are peddling the video in all formats VCD, VHS or even DVD.


The video had actually been shown earlier by two other TV stations, going almost unnoticed until the CNE sent its letter. The Head of the TV station refused to follow the directive from the CNE. The next day the CNE Director stated: “I did not say they could not show it, I asked the media not to show it until we had a chance to evaluate it”. But the text of the letter was unequivocal: “I would like to request that the material not be shown”. But perhaps, it is best to translate parts of Teodoro Petkoff’s Editorial in yesterday’s Tal Cual:


From the text of the “request” it is not clear if it represents and order to the TV stations or merely an exhortation, similar to that that the same Director has made to the President so that he stops violating the regulation of the CNE about electoral publicity and advertising. But in any case, we would be facing an evident extra limitation on the part of the CNE Director and the CNE itself. Whether it was a prohibition or merely an exhortation, the truth is that Director Rodriguez and/ or the Electoral Board have assumed the role of opinion censors, in clear violation of the law.”


“The CNE can not censor the content of public opinion. To “request” that the documentary not be transmitted is equivalent to the CNE abrogating itself the responsibility of censoring the content of opinion articlse in the written press or the content of political opinions in TV and radio programs or the content of books about the current political situation”



It could not have been said better than this. Meanwhile, thousands of Venezuelans are going around today searching for, talking about, borrowing and sharing their copy of ¿Cuál Revolución? to find out what all the unnecessary fuss was all about.



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