Skip to comments.Silencing Venezuela: Hugo Chavez's proposed media law ( Radio - Television - Newpapers)
Posted on 05/21/2003 1:59:54 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
Arelis Lopez holds a sign reading 'Yes to information' and wears a bandanna over her mouth and hand cuffs as she protests with other members of 'Women for Freedom' against a media law proposed in Congress that will restrict graphic violence on television and reduce subjective censoring by radio and television channels, in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, May 20, 2003. Opponents believe that if passed, the law could prohibit television and radio stations from criticizing the government. The sign at right reads 'We will go to jail in defense of freedom' and their shirts read 'Guards of freedom.' (AP Photo/Leslie Mazoch)
Mari Parra, dressed as the Statue of Liberty and covered in newspapers, protests against a media law proposed in Congress that will restrict graphic violence on television and reduce subjective censuring by radio and television channels, in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, May 20, 2003. Opponents believe that if passed, the law could prohibit television and radio stations from criticizing the government.(AP Photo/Leslie Mazoch)
February 10, 2003 - Chavez' dangerous revenge [Full Text] Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has taken two decisive steps away from democracy by imposing exchange controls and intensifying his offense against the press after surviving a strike that paralyzed the country for eight weeks. Opponents of his demagogic regime, who have always insisted that Mr. Chavez intends to impose a Castro-style dictatorship on the oil-rich nation, believe their worst fears are coming true.
For the United States, which relies heavily on oil imported from Venezuela, problems loom. Even if thousands of holdout oil workers return to their jobs, it will be months before oil output returns to normal. With war in the Middle East on the horizon, threatening to cut off oil supplies from the Arab world, Washington needs to keep oil flowing from the world's fifth-largest producer. But now that President Chavez has been strengthened by the failure of the strike, supplies of oil to the United States cannot be taken for granted.
The president announced that a commission appointed by him and the Central Bank will decide who can buy dollars to import products. Most of Venezuela's food and 60 percent of the raw materials and supplies needed for its industries are imported.
Leaders of the opposition believe that President Chavez will use the new controls to silence the press, which relies on imported newsprint, and take revenge on companies that joined the strike. In a televised speech, the president openly threatened, "Not one dollar for coup-mongers." According to The New York Times, Mr. Chavez also promised retribution for his enemies. "The coup-mongering, fascist opposition had their turn with the bat and they have struck out three times. Now it's our turn to bat." He went on to announce that this will be the "year of the revolutionary offensive," and speaking in the third person, added: "Chavez is still here, tougher and stronger than ever."
President Chavez has ordered investigations into all four national private TV networks, and many regional TV and radio stations and is also seeking a new law to regulate the media. In a recent speech, Mr. Chavez said that the new media law will protect young people from abuse by the media, which, he charged "trample the truth ... sow terror and fear and create ghosts for our children." He is also demanding a guarantee of "balanced media coverage" before agreeing to the opposition's petition for a recall election. The opposition claims that it has gathered 4 million signatures in support of a referendum on the president's continuance in office, more than twice the number required under the constitution. The strike was called to back the demand for early elections.
The influence of the United States, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Portugal and Spain, the group of nations known as the "Friends of Venezuela" that has been trying to mediate between the government and the opposition, is of crucial importance if the most enduring democracy in South America is to be saved from Hugo Chavez' stated intention to follow the Cuban model in shaping Venezuela. [End]
March 6, 2003 - Venezuelan central bank director warns against denying dollars to newspapers *** CARACAS, Venezuela - A central bank director warned President Hugo Chavez's government Thursday against using a new foreign exchange system to deprive newspapers of dollars needed to buy newsprint. Domingo Maza Zavala said the government should consider the print media a priority when deciding who can buy dollars under the new system. Chavez, who accuses Venezuela's main newspapers of supporting efforts to overthrow him, has said priority will go to importers of basics like food and medicine. "Everything else will have to wait," he said last week.
Maza Zavala said "it would be irrational" to delay granting dollars to newspapers. "I think newspapers have the right to receive the material they need to function," he told local Union Radio. "Reading the daily press is a primary need for Venezuelans." Newspaper owners - most of whom gave supportive coverage to a failed two-month strike to force early elections - have expressed concern that Chavez will use the exchange controls system to restrict freedom of the press, as past governments have done. ***
March 13, 2003 - Venezuela Restricts Imports: Paper Imports For Books Not Newspapers*** CARACAS -(Dow Jones)- Venezuelan Trade Minister Ramon Rosales said a recently published list of "importable" items included paper only for text books and not for newspapers, which are a lower priority, local daily El Nacional reported Thursday. Paper for newspapers may be included in future lists, and newspaper owners needing to import paper can file a request for "reconsideration," Rosales was quoted as saying. Rosales couldn't be reached for further comment.
Newsprint isn't manufactured in Venezuela and many local newspapers have said they only have paper to last them through about April. Opponents of President Hugo Chavez warn he'll likely use the new rules to close newspapers critical of his administration, which they say is becoming increasingly dictatorial. Chavez often accuses some newspapers, along with television and radio stations, of unfair coverage. ***
March 20, 2003 - Venezuelan Newsprint Stocks Running Low Under Chavez's Restrictions [Full text] CARACAS, Venezuela - President Hugo Chavez is using currency controls to limit press freedom by denying Venezuelan newspapers the dollars needed to import newsprint, a newspaper director said Wednesday. Nationwide newsprint stocks are down to one month's supply, said Miguel Otero, director of Caracas' El Nacional. "Nobody knows how the newspapers are going to operate after April," Otero said. "The government wants to silence us."
Chavez accuses Venezuela's news media of conspiring to overthrow his leftist government. Many newspapers endorsed a recent, failed two-month general strike to demand early presidential elections. Chavez's term ends in 2007. Chavez suspended dollar sales to businesses and citizens Jan. 22 to stem a rapid devaluation of the bolivar currency and capital flight. The government published a list this week of 6,000 imported items, such as medicine and food, that will be eligible for private dollar purchases at a date to be announced. Newsprint is not on the list, although the government says it may be in the future.
"This is undoubtedly an attempt against freedom of expression. It's becoming a government policy," Otero said. The bolivar lost a quarter of its value against the dollar this year before currency sales were halted. [End]
President greets freed Cubans - Slams Dictatorships Today, Cubans around the world celebrate May 20th, Cuban Independence Day. On behalf of the people of the United States, I send greetings to the Cuban community. My hope is for the Cuban people to soon enjoy the same freedoms and rights that we do. Dictatorships have no place in the Americas. May God bless the Cuban people, who are struggling for freedom. Thank you.
Very astute. Too bad for democracy, Chavez has the court in his pocket.
I hope you are right. I would love to see the wealthy Cuban ex-pats,who came here with nothing and amassed fortunes through hard work, go back and restore that beautiful island to it's former luster.