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Taking the BBC to account re Venezuela

By Aleksander Boyd

London 22.04.07 | To be frank, since Hugo Chavez decided to prescind of any pretences of being a democrat my self-imposed task of showing the Dantesque nature of his regime has become so much easier, to the point of being futile. In the early days those of us that were out to set the record straight were few and discredited. However Hugo has turned out to be our greatest ally, the man is so detached, his derangement so evident, his actions so utterly anti-democratic that only true fanatics maintain otherwise. The BBC was, let us never forget, fully behind the production of "The Revolution will not be televised," docudrama of epic proportions which constructed Hugo's underdog image worldwide. Complaints against it fell in deaf ears at the BBC, ever so keen on siding with any anti-America voice. But nowadays even the BBC is sensible enough to keep the Venezuelan caudillo at arms lenght. Its reporting on Venezuela is increasingly tilting towards balanced. That's not to say of course that the dream of a creole Robin Hood poking fingers at the US, while turning his country into communist paradise, has been completely abandoned by some BBC editors. Every now and then, purposefully or otherwise, false information slips through, ever favouring Chavez as the underdog premise. Two examples follow.

Chavez accelerates on path to socialism

Reporter Nathalie Malinarich states in the third paragraph that Chavez has been given powers to rule by decree for one year. This was repeated in the bullet points further down the article. So I took the phone and rang the complaints line. A nice chap up in Scotland answered and said that inaccuracies would be corrected. At a latter date I received an email confirming that errors had been corrected. Upon checking though I realised that it was corrected indeed, in the bullet points, not in the third paragraph, as the article still shows. Equally important is the fact that Malinarich did not see fitting to inform readers about Jorge Rodriguez's past task within the Chavez regime as electoral minister, though, in all fairness, he is correctly described as "a radical who does not tolerate dissent."

Venezuelans in TV network protest

There are inaccuracies and misleading statements in the article. Therefore I just sent the following to the BBC:

From the article:

"Mr Chavez's supporters say Radio Caracas Television (RCTV) backed a 2002 coup which briefly ousted him."

That paragraph is misleading. First, the decision of closing RCTV was taken by Hugo Chavez, violating right to due process and other legal tenets. Second, although Mr Chavez maintains that RCTV backed the 2002 coup his regime has failed to issue legal proceedings against RCTV for its alleged involvement. Third, implying that the driving force behind the closure of RCTV comes from Chavez's supporters is false, as admitted by Minister Jesse Chacon recently when he stated that the closure was a presidential decision.

From the article:

"Near the demonstration, hundreds of Mr Chavez's supporters wearing red caps and T-shirts staged a rival rally to express their support for the closure of RCTV, which has been broadcasting for 33 years."

RCTV has been broadcasting for 53 years not 33.

The BBC will correct the "33 years" claim, however changing misleading statements will take a bit more time. Let us hope that Chavez's revolution continues to be televised in State media, YouTube, Aporrea, Alo Presidentes and other such sources of information.



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