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Chavez Silences TV Station January 18, 2007

Posted by publicpolitics in Censorship.

As Chavez accelerates his country’s shift toward “21st-century socialism,” a decision not to renew RCTV’s broadcast license is among the government’s more dramatic steps, and one that has caused serious concern among free-press advocates. While Venezuelan officials have accused the 54-year-old station of having collaborated with organizers of a 2002 coup against Chavez, the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York, the Organization of American States and the Catholic Church have warned that press freedoms in Venezuela are in danger.

Juan Forero, Washington Post

Hugo Chavez has gone too far in attempting to silence his critics. If the government of Venezuela has persuasive evidence that people at Radio Caracas Television did indeed collaborate in the 2002 coup attempt, then it is a government responsibility to bring the charges forward. A whole institution, especially one that predates Chavez’s ascent to power, is being punished in an act of retribution against a collective. RCT was not founded as a front organization for coup plotters, and it is certainly no accident that the station is well known for its acerbic, not to say vicious, critiques of the Chavez government. When a such large number of groups across the political, ideological, and social spectrum raise the alarm of retaliatory censorship against a government policy, the authors have the duty to respond to those allegations with something more than a reassertion of their opinions on the matter.

Dissenting media voices still exist in a Venezuela where Chavez holds a firm grip on power. Like many acts of public silencing, this one appears to be gratuitous. The Chavez government, of course, is sovereign,and has all of the rights and privileges to oppress its people. Chavez will probably say that the coalition of organizations and states condemning the silence of RCTV are at worst imperialist meddlers or enemies of the state, and at best well meaning but ignorant or naive Venezuelans. That set of arguments dismisses all debate. Chavez, who claims to be looking for a new model of socialism and has done remarkable good for the poor of his country, should think again. This kind of action belies his claim to a new and better form of government, and makes even his well wishers elsewhere in the world pause to consider whether what he will ultimately bring to the country is indeed improvement, or only a form of populist repression, muddling along toward dictatorship.

Tags: Rctv | Carias | Anti-Chavez | ORGANIZERS | Journalism | host | decision | Venezuela | tv | television | pulling | president | Politics | Plug | New York | hugo | chavez | Caracas


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