FAIRNESS IN THE USE OF THE MEDIA IN VENEZUELA
Wednesday 7, July 2004 - Is the world watching? There is a certain group of people outside of Venezuela that have made a career in criticizing the role of the private media (1). I wonder what they will think after Monday's events. That night I wrote about the rather scandalous use of politics in the military parade for the Independence Day of Venezuela, that is, the independence days of ALL Venezuelans. But it seems that we are reaching fast a situation where some Venezuelans are more Venezuelan than others.
The reactions have not been long in coming. From Zamora, one of the directors of the Electoral Board CNE (2) to the searing editorial of Tal Cual. This editorial has been already partially translated by Miguel.
Another searing editorial can be found in EL Universal from the pen of Roberto Giusti who I have translated in the past. Time does not allow me but this snippet:
Anyway, nothing new but with all the old one notch higher in tone, on a national day used for electoral demagoguery and to feed the insatiable vanity of the boss. A National Assembly and State Institutions transformed in adulatory sheep together with the tamed Armed Forces offered a pathetic note in the memorable epic to celebrate I do not know which independence.
But an undaunted Chavez had no qualms in calling for yet two more "cadenas" on Tuesday, one to let the people know that thousands of people sworn in as new Venezuelan citizens were with the revolution, and the other, a long one at lunch time, to graduate a new crop of officers from the diverse military institutions and of course implying to them that they were there to serve the revolution. How? By reminding them that they started school in August 1999 as the New constitutional debate took place and thus they were the first real Bolivarian promotion.
To complete the picture there is a festival of sorts that is held at our opera house, the Teresa Carreno theatre (3). The name of the Festival is "Venezuela no está sola: Florentino sin fronteras" (Venezuela is not alone: Florentino without borders). That would not be so bad after all, except that this is the title of the campaign commando of Chavez. But it gets better, passing this for news, the state TV has been passing live the sessions where speaker after speaker launches into tirades after tirades of lauds to the Bolivarian revolution, also known as Chavez, El Supremo.
But the world is listening indeed, not the way Chavez would like to. In spite of all the incessantly heard complaints that the private media in Venezuela are unfairly criticizing him, in spite of all the cadenas he subjects us to, in spite of the non stop propaganda channel that the state TV, VTV, has become in violation of the electoral codes published a few days ago, it seems that Chavez message is not crossing well overseas.
In an unambiguous interview with Andres Oppenheimer, Kerry was quite clear on what Chavez represents. If Kerry is elected, Washington might become even of a worse nightmare for Chavez. The Miami Herald reports also on this Kerry stance.
In a televised interview that will air Wednesday in 19 Latin America countries, Kerry called the upcoming referendum in Venezuela ''a real challenge to the entire hemisphere'' and said that ''as president,'' he would ``work with the international community to bring pressure in the interest of democracy.
''Global transparency, accountability of government, democracy, I think is critical everywhere, but particularly to our hemisphere,'' Kerry said in the interview with Herald columnist Andres Oppenheimer for the TV program Oppenheimer Presenta. ``If Chavez does not respect that process, then he makes himself an outlaw with respect to those values and those interests.''
Poor Eva Golinger, she will indeed have to vote for Nader now. Damn Liberals! They cannot be trusted! (4) It is unfortunate that so many Liberals have tied the knot with Chavez realizing only too late the true nature of the regime.
As the VIO files reported, and as all evidences point out to, VIO files or not, the work of the chavista defenders outside Venezuela does not seem to be paying off. At least, the ones that count do not need to watch CNN anymore, they know what is going on here.
Thus we are left with the initial question: where is the fairness in news reporting? As the private media is visibly making an effort to invite more often chavismo to its talk shows, the chavista media not only is far from inviting opposition folks over (at least I have not seen any in the recent days) but it is becoming an all and out propaganda machine at tax payer expense. And cadenas are already reaching a paroxysm when there is still a full month of campaign left.
Critics of Venezuelan private media would be well advised these coming days to watch their comments as they could lose their credibility. The state information machinery seems to be poised to outdo all the mistakes made by the private media in recent years.
(1) Quite a crew, from Le Monde Diplomatique where Lemoine seems unable to speak of anything else, to the usual crew represented in Venezuelanalisis, in particulars Weisbrot now promoted to pro Chavez witness in US Senate hearings. They all try to convince us that all the problems of Chavez come only from a partial media.
(2) The main two chavista directors in the CNE have curiously traveled to the USA for some meeting to defend their position and try to validate their work at the head of Venezuela. This at a time when significant delays are being experienced in the organization of the Recall Election, not to mention other due elections. As the days pass it seems less and less likely that the 15 August date will be made, which would have tremendous consequences. The NED, the Woodrow Wilson Internacional Center and the Inter American Dialogue picking up the travel expenses of the Bolivarian officials.
(3) Current chavista propaganda now claims that the opera "ahora es del pueblo". Indeed, it is used for all sorts of political activities by chavismo, with nobody knowing whether rental fees are paid, etc, etc… This as culture in Venezuela is going through one of its worst crisis, under the excuse that the people are the one that hold the real culture. The result is that there is no culture left, popular or not. As could have been predicted.
(4) It is indeed very amusing to see all these US supporters of Chavez rather upset with the Kerry positions. Clear ones at that. Probably they are unable to understand that there is such a thing as National Interests that go above party lines, a concept totally alien a an El Supremo regime like the one they defend.
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