The Night The Video Died in Caracas
Early on the morning of May 28th (Memorial Day in the U.S.) Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez took steps to ensure that free speech and free expression will not be tolerated in his country. Hugo Chavez has decided that all opposition of his “glorious socialist revolution” must be censored or quieted.
Chavez, a hypocritical “defender of democracy,” ordered the closure of Radio Caracas Television on Monday. RCTV is notable for being the primary voice of opposition to Chavez and his regime’s policies. Chavez has long accused the TV station of being one of the powers behind the 2002 attempted coup d`etat that removed him from power for 24 hours.
(Why didn’t he arrest the staff at the station if they were as involved as he believed? They make a more credible threat if they are still in existence I guess. It is so much easier to keep them around as a boogeyman to scare the people with.
Or maybe he couldn’t prove it. That’s OK though, he has groups like FAIR to do that for him.)
Some of the questions I want to ask are, “will we see any outrage, any cry of frustration from the media on the left? Will Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman, will The Nation’s Katrina VanDen Heuvel or the broadcast team at Air America speak out against the silencing of an independent (of the government at least) media voice in Venezuela?”
The above group of reporters would be up in arms, screaming and crying, if that happened in this country. Imagine a scenario where George Bush didn’t renew the broadcast rights for NBC or CNN. Let’s move this a little closer to home for those above reporters. Imagine George Bush showing up at the Democracy Now studios at WBAI with armored riot police to shut the station down and replace it with a
propaganda government-run alternative.
(I can see it now, “All Rambo, all the time.”)
Anytime that a voice of the media dies out it is a tragedy. I know I have an idealized view of the power of the media, that they are supposed to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” Do they do that? Not currently, although with the growth of blogging, and YouTube and video blogging we are creating a new generation of citizen journalists that can pick up some of the slack. And the great thing about this new media revolution is that you can represent your own side, not have to be squeezed into an outdated, right-left, dichotomy. (A tangent for another time)
One of the most precious freedoms we are supposed to have in America is the Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Assembly guaranteed to us by the Bill of Rights to the Constitution. (Why these basic freedoms were not included in the Constitution in the first place is also another post at another time).
Perhaps someone should give a copy of the Constitution to Hugo Chavez to ponder that freedom. On second thought, don’t. He would probably see it as the “dangerous spreading of capitalism through his glorious socialist country” and you’d be arrested.
Chavez does not have to worry, however. RCTV will be replaced be a more, Chavez palatable, television station – TVES. The station programming launch included Chavez-friendly music, an exercise show, a talk show and government
propaganda advertising saying that “Venezuela is now free.”
Freedom through force.
Independence through governmental piety.
Someone’s been reading their 1984. Next thing we know Chavez will say he’s always been at war with Eastasia. 😉