May 29, 2007
The Drudge Report linked to some articles yesterday on Hugo Chavez's closure of media outlets that have been in opposition to him, which I'm sure triggered a "down with Chavez" reaction among many readers. I have to admit that fell into the trap as well, on account of my position on freedom of speech and criticism.
From the article:
President Hugo Chavez's clampdown on opposition television stations widened Monday as police used rubber bullets and tear gas on demonstrators protesting what they called an attack on free speech.
However, I read a post on Boingboing and read through the comments about the closure, and a more balanced picture began to emerge.
Here are some of the comments on the site:
The article you quoted from Anonimo regarding the RCTV shutdown completely fails to provide any context for the shutdown (a refusal to renew their license), or the process by which it was carried out and why. RCTV was a major participant in the April 2002 coup, as detailed in these articles.
If you want to see footage of RCTV and the other channels who supported the coup and how they did so, please check out The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, an excellent documentary by an Irish documentary film maker who was in Caracas at the time of the coup.
While I too think it is a bad idea, it is a litle more complex than is being presented. I was in Venezuela during the coup of 2002 and watched the private media coverage daily. It was incendiary and flgrantly anti-democratic. That station is guilty of faking footage of violence in order to incite further violence, and guilty of hiding the truth about what was really happening from the electorate. I am no pro-Chavez partisan, but I was genuinely horrified by the coverage of the coup. Does this justify its closing? No, but their calls for press freedoms ring a bit hypocritical after their gross manipulations and lying.
Although I am not a Chavez worshiper nor do I live in Venezuela, the article concerning RCTV seems flawed.
Firstly, it is not being shut down. Chavez is not renewing the license for the use of the public airwaves.
The can still broadcast over cable, internet, and satellite. Secondly, the poster failed to mention that RCTV openly supported and helped a coup of his government that was partially successful. Chavez did not shut it down immediately but allowed the contract to expire 5 years later.
He also allows other networks that are openly critical of him to continue, just not the ones that tell people to overthrow a democratically elected government.
I plan to watch the documentary mentioned in the first comment. Hopefully that'll shed more light on the issue in Venezuela.