Another hard hitting report by Reporters without Borders on the RCTV case.

June 5, 2007

Reportes Without Borders (RSF) released its final report on the visit to Venezuela to look into the RCTV case and once againm I found the report expertely written, these guys not only understood the issues but wrote about them once again with extraordinary precision. The report entitled : “Closure of Radio Caracas Television Consolidates Media hegemony” goes right to the point and details why the move was simply political:

“Reporters Without Borders went on a fact-finding trip to Venezuela from 24 to 28 May, meeting with national and foreign journalists, media owners, media specialists, human rights activists and political analysts. It was at RCTV on the day it stopped broadcasting. Its requests for meetings with government officials and representatives of public and pro-government media went unanswered. Their silence was as eloquent as the comments of the people it did meet, and tends to confirm that RCTV’s closure was not just an administrative measure. On the contrary, it was a political move, one that establishes government hegemony over the broadcast media and constitutes a grave danger for editorial pluralism. It also revealed a new aspect of this political system known as “Chavism” – one that could be called media hegemony.”

“Imagine yourself with a TV remote control, zapping between five or six TV stations all showing exactly the same images of the president giving a speech. This bizarre situation is the almost daily lot of Venezuelans. The president’s speeches rarely go on for less than three hours and some go for seven if he is feeling inspired. Far from limiting himself to cutting ribbons at openings, making the occasional formal address to the nation or praising the recipients of awards, Chávez delivers dissertations. “

“The licence did end on 27 May but RCTV could under the law request its renewal. Venevisión, whose licence expired on the same date, succeeded [on 23 May, the same day that the supreme court’s constitutional division rejected RCTV’s appeal] in being able to continue to broadcast for another five years.” What is the reason for this different treatment?

“Let us sum up. Complete control of the state, government and armed forces. No opponents in parliament, as the opposition boycotted the 2005 legislative elections. A ruling party that is virtually the only party. Twenty-two out of twenty-four state governors who are entirely loyal. And soon, a largely neutralised civil society.

By closing RCTV and above all by taking its equipment for Tves, Chávez has tightened his grip on the last bastion that was holding out – the media. “

“As the president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuelan decided unilaterally to close RCTV;
Reporters Without Borders intends to refer the case of RCTV to the United Nations Human Rights Council, whose next session will be in Geneva from 11 to 18 June, to the UN special rapporteur for freedom of expression and to the Council of Europe. The press freedom organisation also intends to refer the case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights IACHR) and to its special rapporteur for freedom of expression and information. Referring the case to the IACHR obliges the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to cooperate with the commission and attend any hearing it convenes.”

It’s certainly nice to know some people dig in and “get it” in contrast with this reporter who in very unethical fashion and even though he claims to have lived in Venezuela, managed to selectively ignore some of the most important facts of the case, such as the fact that there were other stations involved and not a single legal decision has ruled against the  TV station. In fact,  the only legal decision on what happened in 2002, was handed down by Chavez’ hand-picked Supreme Court, when it ruled in the case of the Generals involved in Chavez’ departure, that on that date there was a  “power vacuum” and not a coup.  In fact, it was a Chavez’ Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, who later became his Minister of Defense, who came on TV and told Venezuela and the world that Chavez had resigned. Without that, none of the events of Chavez departure in 2002 would have occurred. The Chief of Staff was never  asked by the Prosecutor to explain why he did what he did on that fateful day.

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