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On Chavez´s closure of Venezuela´s largest TV network

By Aleksander Boyd

26.05.07 - This week we have been treated to a unique spectacle: the illegal decision of Hugo Chavez to close RCTV, Venezuela´s oldest and largest TV network, has predictably drawn a string of criticism from international human rights NGOs, the European Parliament and the US Congress. It would be rather difficult to find an issue that can achieve such consensus from all sides of the political divide. For curtailing freedom of expression is one such issue amongst the world’s democrats, and as in the UK anti benefit fraud campaign “no ifs, no buts…” if an elected leader of a given country is caught closing a media conglomerate solely on the basis of personal animosity to its editorial lines, said leader forfeits the privilege to call himself/herself democratic. Quite simple really, for one of the fundamental principles of democracy is the right to freely express one´s thoughts, read the right to criticise elected civil servants. When civil servants become deranged, letting the reins of galloping megalomania loose, and convincing themselves of their utter infallibility they must believe feasible and acceptable doing with a country and all its citizens what they please, as if it were a personal fiefdom. Then they go round closing TV networks, confiscating private property, nationalising industries, pilling up weapons, fuelling narcoguerrillas and funding continental `revolutions,´ imprisoning and assassinating political foes, and espousing a characteristically imperial behaviour. History is chock full of examples, Hugo Chavez has become just one of the latest.

But this incident is not isolated nor is the exception to the rule. On the contrary only in January this year the caudillo was given by the all chavista congress ample powers to rule by decree for 18 months, thus eliminating checks and balances in what was a cursory `official´ confirmation that he can pretty much do what he pleases.

However sincere the resolutions and letters condemning the act, on Monday morning, when RCTV´s right to broadcast is illegally terminated, Chavez will still be the ultimate icon of the world´s resented imbeciles and those concerned about the loss of another democratic right in Venezuela will carry on with the business of il dolce far niente at taxpayers´ expense. Toothless multilateral bodies have, as Chavez, lost all legitimacy. Its condemnations mean jackshit in the real world. The future looks bleak in Venezuela, that much is certain and has, at last, been properly understood by democrats around the globe, whom are seen in the side of reason, in the side of rule of law.

On the other side one sees Chavez and who else: Castro? Robert Mugabe? Colombia´s FARC? The Venezuela Information Office and its Quixotic, and paid, apologists?



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