In nineteen days, the Chavez Government is likely to execute the shutdown of TV station RCTV, which has been broadcasting for more than 50 years in our cuntry. While some people cling to the hope that Chavez is so concerned about the international repercussions of the canceling of the concession that the Supreme Court will intervene, I just don’t buy it. This is another whim and another very calculated move in Chavez’ quest for total power and control of Venezuela.
The move is another step in silencing any form of opposition to the Chavez regime. While the Government TV station VTV has simply become the voice of Chavez’ party, whether the old MVR or the new PSUV, the Government has been using its resources to start up, buy or take over both TV and radio stations to push Chavez’ message across and brainwash Venezuelans day after day. On top of that, any time the President so orders, all TV and radio stations have to broadcast live any speech he gives, no matter how inconsequential. Sometimes these interventions can last hours; they are free to the Government in yet another way in which a very wealthy and powerful Government takes advantage of its position of strength.
As if this were not enough the Government regularly threatens reporters and the media, directly or indirectly, via its supporters, new muzzle laws or simply wit veiled threats that have made self-censorship the norm in Venezuela these days.
The most emblematic opposition reporters have been mysteriously fired from their places or work or even accused of terrorism as a way of neutralizing them. Most TV stations and newspapers have obeyed. One time “worst enemy” Venevision, today is even silent about what is going on at RCTV, opinion programs have been cancelled and their news report do not show anything that might antagonize the autocrat.
And RCTV is accused of opposing the Government in the tragic days of 2002, as if it was not Chavez that forced TV stations to carry his image and speech instead of showing what was happening outside, as people were being murdered on the streets.
But this proves that RCTV is being singled out not because of what it did in 2002, but because of what it has refused to do since then. All of the TV stations were against what Chávez was doing then, all of them opposed the activation of Plan Avila a military plan to control the civilian population which had already been ruled by international organizations not to comply with human rights principles and treaties.
But beyond freedom of the speech and the public’s right to know, is the way in which the Chavez Government has undertaken the shutdown of RCTV. It was a political decision taken by an autocratic Government, which legally does not have the power to make that decision. It accused RCTV of violations, which it never was accused of. Basically, the rule of law, the right to defend yourself and due process were simply bypassed to satisfy the desires and whims of Hugo Chavez, in yet another violation of the rights of those involved.
Some are happy because the shutdown of RCTV will wake up international opinion to what Hugo Chávez is all about and those foolish enough to believe that militaristic Hugo Chavez in some way represents a democratic alternative, may be awakened to a stern reality. But much like I said almost five years ago in my blog, Venezuelans cannot expect international leaders or opinions to solve our problems. We have to do it ourselves. At the time, I was referring to the upcoming visits of Jimmy Carter and OAS secretary General Cesar Gaviria.
Today, we cannot expect and should not expect international reaction to this violation of the basic and fundamental rights of our Constitution to do the job for us. If we do not stand up for our own rights, then we should not expect, nor should we deserve, that anyone else stands for them.
To that end, I will be regularly be blogging at the twin sites http://www.freerctv.com and http://www.rctvlibre.com below, where you should frequently look for news, events and the latest on this very important threat to our own present and future freedom.
Act now to defend your rights and stop censorhip!