Archives | 2012 June
RCTV was “accused” of inciting violence
The Chavez government would have needed to prove the veracity of its ‘accusations’ about RCTV–playing a leading role in instigating and supporting the 2002 coup–only if it had decided to bring RCTV to court on criminal charges of sedition or treason. However, despite the abundant evidence that RCTV had served as the coup plotters’ “secret weapon” (their own words!)–by orchestrating the civil unrest that was so central to the coup plotters strategy (by rallying the opposition to march on the presidential palace, ensuring a clash with the pro-government demonstraters), and then subsequently failing to inform the public that the coup failed–the Chavez government opted not to PROSECUTE RCTV, but merely NOT TO RENEW RCTV’s broadcasting license when it expired… five years later! This was a mere slap on the wrist for a private media enterprise that used the public airwaves to call for the overthrow the democratically elected government! You must understand that using the public airwaves is a privilege, not a right! Under Venezuelan law, the government is under no obligation to renew the license of any private media outlet–they’re not automatically entitled to license renewals! When a TV station like RCTV abandons the public interest and violates the public’s trust by participating in a plot to remove a democratically elected government, it has no business complaining about losing its privileged access to the public airwaves! Update: I wish I were responding to the latest news about Globovision (not old news about RCTV). But I haven’t been following this story, and so I’ll wait until I become aware of the facts before I comment.
I assume the OP only referenced Chavez as a way of setting up a thought-experiment, but, as someone who follows Venezuelan politics closely and is often annoyed by the way that country’s President is portrayed in the Western news media, I feel compelled to point out that the premise in the submission title is not correct. The media erupted in hysteria last December after Chavez expressed “suspicions” about the fact that so many left-wing Latin American presidents had been recently disgnosed with cancer. But here is actually what he said:
“It’s difficult to explain, at this point, what is happening to some of us in Latin America,” Chavez said. “It’s strange that [Paraguayan president Fernando] Lugo, [Brazilian president] Dilma [Rousseff], and then myself, and a few days later [ex Brazilian president Luiz Inacio] Lula [Da Silva] and now [Argentine President] Cristina [Fernandez] have contracted cancer”.
“Would it be strange if the U.S had developed the technology to induce cancer? I don’t know, I leave it to be reflected on,” he added.
“I don’t want to make any reckless accusations, but just a while ago I heard president Alvaro Colom [of Guatemala] telling the United States that it should accept its responsibility and seek forgiveness from the Guatemalan people, because it was shown, fifty years later, that they ran a biological and chemical operation, venereal diseases included, in the country, for scientific tests,” Chavez added.
Chavez later clarified his remarks, denying that he had not accused anybody of inducing cancer, and saying that doing so would have been ‘irresponsible’.
the strangling of the free press.
After saying that, it’s clear you know absolutely nothing about actual Venezuelan politics. However, it’s probably not your fault, if you depend on U.S. news media as your primary source of information. All you need to do is open up a Venezuelan newspaper, or visit a Venezuelan news website (or–if you lived in Venezuela, you could just turn on the TV) in order to observe a never-ending stream of (uncensored, unconstrained, and often extremely harsh) criticism directed at the Chavez government. The vast majority of TV stations, radio stations, and newspapers are monopolized by a ‘hate media’, which still encourages insurrection against the democratically elected president! Read up:
I think you will still be a ñángara no matter how obvious the evidence
I told you the reason that I don’t find many of these allegations credible is due to insufficient evidence. I actually try to be extremely honest when it comes to this stuff. The problem is that it is sometimes difficult to obtain decent information; I often have to read many different sources and piece together in my mind how things fit. Here is what you are telling me: Makled was a Chavez supporter “until he mysteriously turned on Chavez” and THAT’S WHEN (after he turned against Chavez) “authorities suddenly discovered he was a drug dealer”. Those are not the facts according to the news sources that I’ve read, but maybe I don’t have all the information. If you could show me a credible source to confirm your version of the story, I promise to accept it as true!
copied arguments from our fascist government
Speaking of “copied”, I just discovered you “copied” your comment above from something you wrote 20 days ago!
Did you not read my explanation that I wouldn’t be responding to all of your points (even though I’ve probably addressed them all somewhere in my comment history)? I apologize but this just isn’t a good use of my time.
The fact that the two corrupt individuals fled the country prior to being arrested by the Chavez government means that the system is working as it should, and by effectively routing out corruption even from within!
It may be “interesting to listen to” these disgraced former magistrates, but you’re only kidding yourself if you think there is any truth to their allegations. There isn’t a shred of evidence for any of their anti-Chavez claims!
Moreover, to call Aponte and Makled “Chavistas” is a lie. It’s all the more strange that you would mislabel them, considering that you have accused me of mislabeling the “oligarchs” now seeking to return to power!
Oh yes, I almost forgot that people of your political persuasion still believe that the fourth republic was a ‘democratic’ regime, just like the U.S., not an oligarchy! The two dominant parties just happened to have signed a formal agreement (Punto Fijo Pact) to keep power in the hands of a small circle of political/economic elites!
You aren’t even being consistent in your use of political labels. Literally 1 hour earlier, you said:
You can say someone’s left or right depending on who they’re standing next to. In Venezuela the economic center is waay left so compared to venezuelan standards he [Capriles] is right winged, however compered to logical international standards he is center left.
I assume you are just freaking out about Chavez’s 16-point lead, like the rest of the opposition, who are finally realizing that “the already slim chances of challenger Henrique Capriles of winning are now almost null.”
I’ve responded to most of these points, at some point or another, somewhere in my comment history, in previous discussions of Venezuelan politics. I obviously don’t have the energy to respond to all of them now. Some of them, I think, are definitely legitimate criticisms of President Chavez; others, I would dispute.
For example, how can you believe the words of a disgraced former judge (Aponte) who, after being accused of ties to alleged drug kingpin Walid Makled (i.e. receiving monthly payments of $70,000 in exchange for his loyalty and services), did not even bother to defend himself before the National Assembly, which voted unanimously to remove him from his post so that he could be brought to justice, but instead flew to Costa Rica, contacted the DEA, and had them fly him to the United States, where rather than face prosecution for his crimes, he is given a platform to make allegations of his own! It is ironic that, this former judge hasn’t produced any evidence whatsoever for his allegations about receiving phone calls from Chavez’s office and from other high ranking officials, or about these ‘Friday morning meetings’ where orders were supposedly given on whom “they should go after”.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure Capriles is well-intentioned. But I don’t think that, if elected, he could govern as a center-left President, even if he wanted to. The opposition coalition that Capriles represents is made up of some powerful, right-wing elements, who’ll stop at nothing to overturn the progressive changes over the last decade. Chavez has many flaws, particularly from my perspective as a proponent first and foremost of the “Bolivarian revolution” (and as a radical socialist), but for as long as he continues to defend and empower the lower classes of Venezuelan society against the more dangerous class of oligarchs, I think it is right for the people to re-elect him.
I appreciate the dialogue!
If you listen to the opposition, they’re quickly becoming very pessimistic about the October election. For example, Francisco Toro, the owner of Caracas Chronicles, the most prominent English-language anti-Chavez blog, is taking the latest polls (which show Chavez with a comfortable lead) very seriously. He is saying that their best and only hope for October would be Chavez’s untimely demise (i.e. from cancer), and strongly implying that a turn of the electoral tide is unlikely and that the opposition isn’t capable of defeating Chavez this year.
In the comments section, some members of the opposition are already giving up, saying things like:
I have always said that if Chavez is alive, he will win. Hands downs. In fact, if he’s still alive, I’ve even considered cancelling my return home to vote, as it will be a wasted effort. Sad reality, folks.
That is my prediction of the final result as reported to the world.
That’s probably a fair prediction. President Chavez, as super confident as always, is predicting that he will win October’s election “with more than 60 percent of the vote”. (I think he’ll win, but his estimate of 60% is too high.)
For the record, Chavez has announced repeatedly that he would respect the results of the election, no matter what their outcome might be (i.e. even if he were to lose). Henrique Capriles, the opposition’s candidate, has still not made such a commitment, “limiting himself to stating that ‘everything I’ve achieved in politics, I’ve achieved through the vote.’ Capriles participated in the 2002 short lived coup against Chavez” (source).
I find it really obnoxious and slimy how you attempt to sneak in a comparison of Hugo Chavez with Saddam Hussein without coming out directly with (unfounded) allegations of electoral fraud in Venezuela (lest someone challenge you to cite some evidence). But then, why would you be making an allegation of “electoral fraud” when the actual presidential election is still three months away (it’s scheduled for October 7th)?
Did you read the article, or even the headline? Reuters is reporting the results of a new opinion poll conducted by the “respected local pollster Datanalisis”; these are NOT the results of the government-held election!
And the reason why Chavez’s 16-point lead in the poll doesn’t look “mighty suspicious” is because Datanalisis’s poll results are the most reliable, and most likely accurate reflection of Venezuelans’ actual voting preferences available. It isn’t just my opinion. The anti-Chavez blogs are taking these results seriously. Besides, this isn’t the first poll to show a big lead for Chavez; other polls have been reporting similar results for months. There has been some variation, just as you would expect in a democracy, and in a genuinely competitive political race!
Winning something like 57-43 looks like it might be legitimate.
Where did you get “57-43”? The article is reporting 43.6% for Chavez, and 27.7% for Capriles. I don’t think you read the article! But whatever the results of Venezuela’s election turn out to be, why wouldn’t they be legitimate?
I can think of one legitimate reason why the Venezuelan military might want surveillance drones. (This is pure speculation, I have no idea if the drones are being built for this purpose, I have no idea how they will be used.)
Background: next door to Venezuela, in Colombia, the government’s military has been using “U.S.-supplied surveillance drones for counterterrorism and counter-narcotics operations” since at least 2006 (Wikileaks).
In recent years, Colombia’s decades-long civil war (1964 – present) has been spreading beyond the country’s porous 1375-mile border with Venezuela, into the border regions covered by dense jungles and mountains.
In 2007, Colombia President Uribe asked Chavez to help negotiate the release of several high-profile hostages held by the FARC, but then abruptly ended Chavez’s role after a series of apparent diplomatic breaches. Tensions between the two countries got worse, and Venezuela became reluctant to help Colombia against the rebels.
The 2008 Andean diplomatic crisis began when the Colombian military launched an unauthorized operation into Ecuadorian territory (its other neighbor). Venezuela warned against similar operations inside its borders.
In 2010, Colombia’s new president made nice with Chavez, restored diplomatic ties with Venezuela. The relations between the countries are now very close, as evinced in Venezuela’s response to latest FARC attack in Colombia.
[President Juan Santos (who calls Chavez “my new best friend”)] said in a brief televised appearance that Chavez told him he had sent two army brigades to the border. “The brigades have clear instructions to try to find these FARC bandits. And if they do they are going to capture them, and if they resist they will use their weapons,” Santos said. “Those are the instructions that President Chavez gave, to fire on them.”
So Venezuela is now more inclined than ever before to help Colombia rout out the rebels along its border. I imagine that Venezuela saw Colombia using its U.S.-supplied drones, and thought “let’s build our own!”
See Wikipedia on “Colombia-Venezuela Relations”. Also, here’s a good discussion about their border:
WILPERT: Well, no, we don’t know very much, but one can be almost certain that there is some FARC in Venezuela, because we’re talking about a 1,200 mile border between the two countries that is practically uncontrollable. Venezuela has something like three times as many soldiers along the border as Colombia does. So it’s actually controlling—just from a military point of view, it’s controlling the border a hell of a lot better than Colombia is. But, still, it’s impossible to control the entire border. And so it’s pretty certain that there’s infiltration not just of Colombian guerrillas, but also of paramilitary forces, and of course of drug traffickers of various kinds. And there have been fights between the Venezuelan military and those various armed groups. So, yeah, they cross the border, but that doesn’t mean that Venezuela is actively supporting them, which is the actual main argument of Colombia. There’s absolutely no proof that Venezuela is supporting them. As a matter of fact, Chávez now—in this recent agreement, said that Venezuela will not tolerate any Colombian camps, guerrilla camps in Venezuela and would do all it can to actually promise—he will do all he can to get rid of them if they are found by the Venezuelan military.
Interesting contrast between the two candidates in this year’s election: Both held rallies and gave big speeches to supporters this week. Chavez spoke for nearly 3 hours; Capriles barely spoke 19 minutes.
People do not fear being tortured and/or executed for criticizing Chavez.
I am not aware of a single incident of anyone ever being tortured and/or executed by the Chavez government. Here’s a fun exercise: compare Chavez’s record to that of either the Bush or Obama administrations!
No one ever points out–I don’t think many people even know–that Chavez granted amnesty to the opposition leaders who briefly overthrew his democratically elected government in 2002 failed coup attempt!
Imagine that a similar failed coup attempt occurred in the United States, what do you think the response would be? Would the conspirators be granted amnesty? Or would they be tried for treason and sentenced to death?
Did you know that capital punishment is not applied in Venezuela? Venezuela was the FIRST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD to abolish the death penalty for all crimes–in 1863! President Chavez has made zero exceptions.
Chavez’s opponents have not been similarly constrained. In 2004, before the amnesty, Danilo Anderson, the state prosecutor leading the investigation against those who hadn’t fled the country was assassinated. Car bomb!
If anything, there is more reason for Venezuelans to fear being killed for supporting Chavez! This also isn’t widely reported, but hundreds of campesinos, peasant leaders and activists, have been murdered by hired gunmen and right wing paramilitaries in the countryside for attempting to implement Chavez’s land reform policies!
There are more examples. But the truth is that, fortunately, political violence is quite low in the country–even though Venezuela does suffer from high levels of violent crime (the reasons are complicated, but I’ll be the first to concede that the Chavez government needs to be doing a lot more to address this issue in the future).
(I made the effort to provide sources. You’re welcome to debate me–rather than simply downvote!)
How am I misrepresenting the facts? Chavez has not banned any private media that I am aware of. His government chose not to renew RCTV’s license to broadcast on public airwaves when it came up for renewal, citing RCTV’s participation in the illegal, anti-democratic coup attempt of 2002. The station was not shut down; it was allowed to continue broadcasting via cable and satellite.
I thought cancer spreading to the bones was more characteristic of late stage.
First, though I am no medical expert, I believe you are correct. If Chavez’s cancer had spread to his bones, it would mean “Chavez’s cancer has ‘entered the end stage’” (Dan Rather).
It should have been more clear in the article that it was citing a conflicting news report that has come out about Chavez’s health (one at odds with what Chavez or the government have said).
The newspaper [ABC] did not divulge its sources or detail how it checked the information’s accuracy
, and CNN was unable to verify the report
. An official in Venezuela’s information ministry said the newspaper’s report was invalid and the government would not comment on its contents. (CNN
Chavez has consistently denied reports that his illness was advanced. Though he has stopped short of declaring himself “cancer free” (as he did last year), Chavez is saying that medical tests following his cancer treatment (three operations to remove tumors from his ‘pelvic region’, and about a dozen rounds of chemotherapy, and radiation therapy) show that he is in good health.
It is true Chavez has not released his medical records; nor has he provided full details about his medical condition and history. His political opponents won’t be satisfied until they can confirm that one of the tumors Chavez had removed from his pelvis was, in fact, the “size of a baseball”.
Chavez insists he is fit enough to run for re-election in October. Two-thirds of Venezuelans believe he will recover, and he is currently holding a double-digit lead over his opponent. Of course, no one can know whether, if re-elected, he will remain healthy for long enough to serve out what would be his third consecutive six-year term, through to 2019! But we hope so.
It seems to me that officials in Chavez’s Socialist Party are justified in fearing that the opposition–by beginning to cast suspicion on opinion polls AND the election results–is preparing to cry fraud and may even seek to destabilize the country if Capriles loses. It’s widely known that Capriles represents the opposition’s best chance to take power electorally, so his loss would likely send the opposition back to its extra-institutional strategies. Chavez has promised to accept the results of the election, even if he loses; the opposition hasn’t!
As for polls and other methods of finding how people will vote, those dont work there.
Why don’t they work? Is there something about Venezuelan culture, society, that makes polls not work? Or do you just think that because they don’t show the results that you want? Please. Of course, you should be skeptical about giving too much weight to any one poll, but it’s usually safe to observe the general trend.
In the past, only a few polls have incorrectly predicted the results of an election. The ones that were wrong were wrong only because they under-estimated the levels of Chavez’s support! For instance, a Reuter’s article on Venezuela’s ‘poll wars’ from this week notes that “Chavez won his first election in 1998 despite trailing in the run-up to the vote, and he was behind in the polls before winning the recall referendum.” (So the polls that were wrong, in the past, were polls biased against Chavez, in favor of the anti-Chavez opposition!)
Moreover, there is not a single poll showing Capriles in the lead. Only one poll ever showed Capriles anywhere close to Chavez. The vast majority give Chavez a lead of 15 points or more (up to 30%). What is more important, however, is that most recent polls show Chavez’s lead has been widening, suggesting a lack of momentum for the Capriles campaign, an inability to close the electoral gap between himself and the President. (Also, consider the fact that these opinion polls were conducted while Chavez was lying in a hospital bed, in Cuba, while Capriles was touring the country, ‘door-to-door’. All this before Chavez even started to campaign!)
A few weeks ago, a prominent opposition journalist Rafael Poleo conceded that Chavez would be re-elected. He wrote: “Chavismo has taken the place in the heart of the people which AD and Copei [the two parties that shared power for forty years] have vacated”. The longer the opposition denies this, the worse things will be.
But during his 24-year run, his net worth has been measured at $1,034,000,000.
First, Chavez has not been running the country for 24 years! he was first elected President in 1998. You’re right, this is not a credible source. Second, “has been measured” by whom? The same person who doesn’t even know for how long Chavez has been President? There isn’t even an attempt to explain how he or she arrives at this number! It would have been better to post nothing at all, than to cite a figure from this source. Take as much time as you need to find a credible source for your claim. There won’t be one.
The poster said it was one of the poorest countries in the world.
He or she said it was “STILL” one of the poorest countries in the world. That may be true, which is why I pointed out that I was “not disagreeing”. However, extraordinary progress \has\ been made in recent years. I felt that this was a point that should be mentioned, so I mentioned it.
I’m not disagreeing with you, but you make it sound as though there hasn’t been extraordinary progress under Chavez, at least with regard to the issue of poverty.
During the past decade under Chavez, the income poverty rate in Venezuela has dropped by more than half, from 54% of households below poverty level in the first half of 2003, down to 26% at the end of 2008. “Extreme poverty” has fallen even more – by 72%. Further, “these poverty rates measure only cash income, and doesn’t take into account increased access to health care or education.” (Wikipedia)
he is a harsh dictator
If you expect to be taken seriously as a scholar, don’t repeat propaganda points. They’re simply not true.
If Chavez were a “harsh dictator”, how do you expect he would have dealt with his enemies, once he was restored to power by the people, after the 2002 coup attempt in which opposition leaders briefly overthrew his democratically elected government, dissolved the Constitution, National Assembly, and the Supreme Court, etc?
Were there executions of the coup conspirators (as punishment for treason)? No. In fact, Venezuela was the first country in the world to abolish capital punishment for ALL crimes. Chavez has made no exceptions. Yes, this is a “harsh dictator” even though his government has sentenced exactly ZERO people to their deaths!
Meanwhile, it was the state prosecutor, Danilo Anderson, who was leading the investigation into those who hadn’t fled the country, who got assassinated. Car Bomb. Hundreds of pro-Chavez campesinos have also been killed.
You would expect a political leader to respond harshly to violent threats from the opposition. Harsh measures might even be considered justified. But (rhetoric aside) the actual measures that Chavez has taken have been quite tame. Nearly everything that he’s done, he’s done by the book, in accordance with democratic processes (e.g. he and his supporters have won 12 out of 13 nation-wide, free and fair, elections and referenda since 1998).
he HATES the US with a passion
You are describing the caricature of Chavez, not the actual person. Chavez doesn’t “HATE the US” (for the last seven years, Venezuela has been providing subsidized heating oil to low-income people in the U.S., he hates the imperialist foreign policies that the U.S. government has too often supported in that region of the world.
absolutely. it’s remarkable just how wrong popular misconceptions are.
not only is president chavez not a dictator, he has been a relatively tame political leader, considering how nearly everything he’s done has been ‘by the book’ (in accordance with democratic processes, etc. e.g. he and his supporters have won 12 out of 13 nation-wide elections and referenda since 1998). whereas the opposition has been completely unrestrained in seeking to restore elite control!
after the 2002 coup attempt, in which opposition leaders briefly overthrew the democratically elected government, dissolved the constitution, national assembly, and the supreme court, wouldn’t you expect chavez, once restored to power by the people, would take some vengeance against his enemies?
were there executions of the coup conspirators? no. instead, it was the state prosecutor, danilo anderson, leading the investigation into those who hadn’t fled the country, who got assassinated. car bomb.
but chavez has killed other people, right? nope. capital punishment is not applied in venezuela. it was the FIRST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD to abolish the death penalty for ALL CRIMES.. in 1863! there have been no exceptions.
[RCTV's] “crime” was reporting events from a more or less impartial POV and airing both sides of the event
That is not at all an accurate description of RCTV’s coverage of the 2002 coup attempt. Even the Wikipedia article on RCTV, which you cited above, contradicts your description.
Re: Alleged Impartiality of RCTV
RCTV reported these actions [the illegal coup against a popular, democratically elected government] as a victory for democracy and conducted friendly interviews with leaders of the movement. […]
Footage from the Irish documentary The Revolution Will Not Be Televised appeared to show a coup leader *thanking RCTV* and Venevisión for their assistance, **calling the media “[our] secret weapon”**. […]
RCTV *encouraged pro-coup protests*, *celebrated* when Chávez was temporarily removed from power, and **broadcast false reports that Chávez had renounced his presidency**. […]
Re: “Airing both sides of the event”
Subsequently the new government rapidly unraveled, after Carmona issued a decree that established a transitional government, dissolving the National Assembly and the Supreme Court, and suspending several Chávez appointees. While his own coalition wavered, large sectors of the armed forces moved into the Chávez camp, linked up with a mass popular uprising from the barrios, and restored Chávez to office. RCTV DECLINED TO REPORT ANY OF THESE EVENTS, preferring to broadcast reruns of looney tunes and the film Pretty Woman.
According to the Chicago Tribune, RCTV and other broadcasters supported the failed coup “by directing marchers and then failing to inform the public that the coup had failed”. […]
In addition, when Chávez returned to power, RCTV did not report the news but rather broadcast entertainment programs such as the movie Pretty Woman. […]
This is all on the Wikipedia article you cited as support for your claims.
I don’t consider a democracy a regime in which one of the conditions to get a broadcasting license is supporting the government. The problem was not that RCTV did not ‘support the (Chavez) government’, but that RCTV did not even support democracy, the process or the system by which that government came to be elected by the Venezuelan people!
A democracy, by definition, must allow an opposition to exist.
You must be very uninformed if you think that an opposition is not allowed to exist in Venezuela. The opposition currently holds nearly 40% of the seats in the National Assembly (65 out of 165)! Although he is still lagging behind in the polls, the opposition candidate Capriles believes he can defeat Chavez in this year’s presidential election. The truth is that, when they weren’t conspiring to overthrow democracy, the Venezuelan opposition has participated in every election (there have been many) except for the one they boycotted: if the opposition lacked political power the reason is simply because they have been defeated in free and fair elections.
What’s the govenment’s opinion? That RCTV participated in the coup attempt? Is there not a historical record of this participation? Is there such a thing as factual truth? Or are there only different opinions? Why should some opinions count more than others? Why are there any restrictions at all on who can broadcast on public airwaves?
In a democracy, the people regulate the public airwaves, and decide to whom to grant broadcasting licenses. No private companies has a permanent claim on them, that’s why they must apply for license renewal and comply with certain regulations, one of them being, do not participate in illegal coups against democratic government!
>press freedom? You link to a "press freedom index", which rates all the countries in the world. United States gets a "14", and Venezuela "55". Does this mean Venezuela has little "press freedom"? These rankings are "questionable". > news stations may  lose their broadcast license if they do not support the government? The link you provide does not support your claim! RCTV did not lose its broadcast license because it "[did] not support the government". Its license was *not renewed* as a result of its *participation in the 2002 coup attempt*. How could free elections exist if news stations were allowed to undermine the country’s democracy?