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Venezuela replaces opposition TV with state network
May 28, 2007 4:25 AM   Subscribe

The War against the libr'l media ? The Governmnt of Venezuela (read Hugh Chavez and his supporters) decided not to renew the broadcasting licence of RCTV station. RCTV issued this statement and consequently stopped transmissions. Some welcome the move, others observe the many facets of this event, many sustain it's outright government censorship and protest. [Previous] post and documentary on distortions by and in media.
posted by elpapacito (114 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oppps spelling ! Jessa et al please fix Hugh, lolkthnxbye ?
posted by elpapacito at 4:26 AM on May 28, 2007


Finally, something Bush ans Chavez can agree upon.
posted by furtive at 4:56 AM on May 28, 2007


The TV station in question, RCTV, was an active participant in the 2002 coup attempt. Watch The Revolution Will Not Be Televised for an understanding of how the Venezuelan corporate media actively falsified the news leading up to the coup d'etat. What's really noteworthy here is that Chávez didn't do this much sooner, that nobody's in jail, and the sheer hypocrisy that the matter of the coup is not mentioned in some of the news stories here. Here's a report by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting on the elephant in the room that the US media refuses to talk about.
posted by graymouser at 5:19 AM on May 28, 2007 [6 favorites]


If a TV station in the US had committed the acts RCTV (along with Venevision and others) did in 2002, its senior management would have been imprisoned and quite possibly executed.
posted by stammer at 6:18 AM on May 28, 2007 [4 favorites]


Seconded graymouser and stammer.

Imagine a US TV station urging Gore to take up arms and overthrow Bush if you want to see how this would pan out. And claiming that the revolution was under way, and that the people were about to topple the dictator Bush. Oh, and imagine Bush had won even half as many fair elections as Chavez has if that helps you.

See here for a UK Parliamentarian's perspective.

Oh, and RCTV still gets to broadcast its propaganda by cable to its rich-bitch core audience. Boo hoo for them.
posted by imperium at 6:24 AM on May 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Stammer -- perhaps preceded by some sort of trial? (Maybe the US is a bad example right now, though.)
posted by ~ at 6:26 AM on May 28, 2007


The problem here seems more that there's a general lack of free speech across Venezuelan airwaves as opposed to the free speech rights being absolved from just one station. As stammer noted, in a democratic government what this station has done would be considered treasonous; I find it kind of ironic that they got away with it because they were in a country with less democracy.

I have a feeling a lot of the people suddenly outraged about this are the same folks who suddenly started caring about how women were treated in Iraq somewhere around March 2002.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:31 AM on May 28, 2007 [5 favorites]


Am I right in thinking RCTV is a propaganda channel for the west?
posted by chunking express at 6:35 AM on May 28, 2007


Not so much for the West as for Venezuela's elite - the oil families. They also broadcast very popular soap operas and game shows.
posted by stammer at 6:38 AM on May 28, 2007


Also, this sort of thing happened in Nicaragua back when Regan was bombing the shit out if it. The Communists shut down the Washington mouth-piece, La Presna, and everyone in America was crying about the death of Freedom of Speech and shit like that -- never mind all the other US client states down there had a free pass to shut down whatever they liked.
posted by chunking express at 6:38 AM on May 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


"State Network." I don't really like the sound of that...
posted by MarshallPoe at 6:38 AM on May 28, 2007


Also, it's a shame Chavez is so creepy.
posted by chunking express at 6:44 AM on May 28, 2007


XQUZYPHYR, what do you mean by: as opposed to the free speech rights being absolved from just one station
posted by micayetoca at 7:05 AM on May 28, 2007


I understand the reasons for shutting down the station - from everything I've seen before they seem pretty despicable - but I still think it's a bad strategic move. It just doesn't look good, and it makes for a worrying precedent. Plus, it makes the government seem weak - it looks as if they are shutting down the station out of fear, which can only help the opposition.

If this had happened during the immediate aftermath of 2002 it would have made more sense - now it plays badly. Far better to have come up with another solution, like simply suing them in open court every time they broadcast a demonstrably false news story. Their other more insidious entertainment programming might be harder to deal with, but surely people get sick of terrible game shows and soaps eventually.
posted by silence at 7:10 AM on May 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


All I can say, is I'm grateful for the intertubes, otherwise I would probably be swallowing the load of crap the US gov't and their media lapdogs are trying to feed me.

I was thinking that shutting down the station was a kind of shitty thing for Chavez to do, and now, having gotten some alternative views from the foreign media, I think that those guys are indeed lucky to be staying out of prison. Had I been in charge of a country during similar events, they'd have all been in jail (awaiting trials) the day after my return to power.
posted by bashos_frog at 7:19 AM on May 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


I was thinking that shutting down the station was a kind of shitty thing for Chavez to do...
Apparently BoingBoing does.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:28 AM on May 28, 2007


I understand the reasons for shutting down the station - from everything I've seen before they seem pretty despicable - but I still think it's a bad strategic move.

You are absolutely right, but there is one little detail: the station wasn't shut down, its broadcasting license expired and it wasn't renewed. So, yeah, it wasn't renewed for political reasons, but technically it was never shut down per se, and that is the reason they waited until now to do it. But I agree with you in that it didn't seem a good strategic move.

Still, I'll tell you something you won't see in the international news coverage of this: the new channel that replaced RCTV (called TVes, which is a pun that means "you see yourself") is going to be filled with programs produced in Venezuela, by national producers under a Media Content law enacted about a year and a half ago. So there is a lot (really, a lot) of people thrilled about the idea that now they are going to
have TV produced (and conducted) by regular people, not only by Miss Venezuelas.
posted by micayetoca at 7:31 AM on May 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


I sent email to BoingBoing and Xeni already. I encourage others to do the same.
posted by bashos_frog at 7:36 AM on May 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Too bad the station didn't succeed back in '02. Since then, Chavez has consolidated power and controlled information to the point where it will be a few years yet before all Venezuelans figure out that they've been tricked by this megalomaniac. I wonder how many innocent people will be imprisoned, starve, be killed or just disappear before he's dragged out of his palace and tried? Hopefully not as many as in Cuba.

Oh, and saying suppression of dissent (even if it is just "the rich" bitching) is justified because the station supported a coup is laughable. Chavez clearly has no problems with the violent overthrow of government, or lying, or propaganda, just not when it's directed at him. Who's going to sue his personal media mouthpieces in open court when they lie? How can anyone even know anymore? What chance would anyone have given he rules by decree and overhauled the senate and the supreme court to be loyal to him, not the state?
posted by loquax at 7:44 AM on May 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


loquax:

Yes, because the coup-plotters are such great respecters of democracy and human rights. They just want everybody to have their fair say, just like in Chile in 1973, right?

Fortunately, your type aren't the majority in Venezuela.
posted by graymouser at 7:48 AM on May 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


What chance would anyone have given he rules by 'signing statement' and overhauled the dept. of justice and the supreme court to be loyal to him, not the state?

Hmmm. It fits, don't it?
posted by bashos_frog at 7:54 AM on May 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


My type can't be much worse than Chavez and his thugs. And if you want to bring up Chile, can I bring up Czechoslovakia in 1968? Or Hungary in 1956? Or any other perverted socialist paradise that was exposed for the inhuman dictatorship that it was? One day you'll be embarrassed that you supported Chavez in any way. Just like your type embarrassed itself by spreading Stalinist propaganda in the 1930's.
posted by loquax at 7:56 AM on May 28, 2007


Oh noes the communists! Are people still afraid of them?

I'm afraid of Americans.
posted by chunking express at 8:00 AM on May 28, 2007 [4 favorites]


How about instead of bringing up Chile, Czechoslovakia and Hungary we try to understand what is actually going on in Venezuela? How about we stop trying to fit everything into preconceived notions and try to actually see if we are witnessing something that, while it has points of comparison with other situations in history, might be actually happening for the first time?
posted by micayetoca at 8:01 AM on May 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


loquax:

Sure, bring up Czechoslovakia or Hungary – I'm a Trotskyist, I have no illusions about the Stalinists. My "type" spent the '30s being harrassed by Stalinist thugs who broke up their meetings by force. But you don't get it. The Venezuelan counter-revolution has nothing to do with human rights. They're just a prop for them. The fact is that RCTV had use of the airwaves for 5 years that they would have had no trouble denying to anyone who opposed them. Chávez has been a fucking saint compared to the counter-revolutionaries whose propaganda you so blithely parrot.
posted by graymouser at 8:02 AM on May 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


Bush was going to bomb Al Jazeera for less reasons and the Red voters would have cheered him for killing all those journalists. Americans don't have any values to export any longer.
posted by Brian B. at 8:09 AM on May 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Are people still afraid of them?

Anyone living under a socialist or proto-Marxist or whatever-he-calls-himself dictator should be afraid for their lives and livelihoods. No one else need worry, because without a superpower backing him, it's only a matter of time before the economy collapses and exposes him as a fraud.

And sorry, this is not new or exciting or the Bolivarian revolution mark-2. This is a military thug seizing control of a country and dragging it down with him. From a political perspective, yawn. Too bad for Venezuelans, and I wish his opponents luck getting out before he feels he has the impunity needed to *really* crush the reactionaries. Has he fully organized his 100,000-strong personal guard yet?

Chávez has been a fucking saint compared to the counter-revolutionaries whose propaganda you so blithely parrot.


Well then, coming from a persecuted Trotskyist, how about I just accept that as gospel?
posted by loquax at 8:11 AM on May 28, 2007


I call dogpile on loquax!
posted by imperium at 8:27 AM on May 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


According to Wikipedia:

The collapse of oil prices in the 1980s, and the huge public spending and accumulation of internal and external debts by the government and private sector during the Petrodollar years of the 1970s and early 80s, crippled the Venezuelan economy. As the government devalued the currency in order to face its mounting local and external financial obligations, Venezuelans' real standard of living fell dramatically. A number of failed economic policies and increasing corruption in government and society at large, has led to rising poverty and crime and worsening social indicators and increasing political instability, resulting in three major coup attempts, two in 1992 and another in 2002. The current president Hugo Chávez, who led the first unsuccessful coup in 1992, was elected precisely as a reaction against the established political parties and the corruption and inequalities their policies created. Since coming to power, Chavez has attracted no less controversy through his reforms of the Constitution and the implementation of his Bolivarian Revolution, creating a period of political polarization in Venezuela.
posted by Brian B. at 8:31 AM on May 28, 2007


I have a feeling a lot of the people suddenly outraged about this are the same folks who suddenly started caring about how women were treated in Iraq somewhere around March 2002.

Yep.

But that doesn't mean that there's isn't more than a little truth in loquax's complaint. Chavez isn't the person that many leftist Americans and Europeans wish he were. He's not really a socialist, he's a populist. Populism is often ugly and it's only a few steps away from fascism1. Sure, it's an understandable response to the plutocrats. But real socialism would be far better for Venezuela than Chavez's autocratic authoritarianism and agitprop.

I lost touch years ago with a close friend who's a far-left (by American terms, which isn't actually that far to the left) Venezuelan who also happens to work in the oil industry—so I don't actually know what he thinks of Chavez. But I can guess based upon the many, many hours of political conversations we had. My guess would be a preference for Chavez over the plutocrats and the other business interests who do little for the poor, but the preference in a resigned lesser-of-two-evils sort of way.

1. An assertion I expect will be vigorously contested by some here. The bottom line for me, though, is that I despise populism. I hate it; I think it's dangerous and corrosive. This isn't a popular opinion for a leftist these days in the US as left-populism makes a modest comeback via one portion of the netroots phenomenon.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:46 AM on May 28, 2007


Mind that I never said, nor do I believe that his predecessors were particularly good for the country or the people, nor do I comment on the particular people or groups that wish to replace him, it's just painfully obvious that whatever the answer is for Venezuela/South America/Cuba, it's not Hugo and the boys.
posted by loquax at 8:48 AM on May 28, 2007


I am curious, since a lot of people here seem to respect Chavez, and know a lot about the situation in Venezuela: it seems like Chavez is heading down the traditional popular dictator route - removing checks and balances in the name of expediency, focusing on domestic and outside enemies as the causes of all ills, repressing free speech, etc. I mean, I can understand his cause is (potentially) just, but removing roadblocks to exercising personal power rarely leads to good things. Do people who are pro-Chavez feel differently? Do they think that he will relinquish power at some point?

The reaction that Bush has done/contemplated/would like to do these things is sort of irrelevant. There are still substantial checks and balances in the US system, and the guy is going to leave office in a year or two, and the pendulum will swing again. I worry that Chavez has no checks on him at all, and seems to know it.
posted by blahblahblah at 8:51 AM on May 28, 2007


That's nothing. Bush privately discussed bombing Al Jazeera with Tony Blair.

I'm not saying it's a good thing, but lets have some perspective. Do you really think a TV Station would stay on the air in the US if it openly advocated the overthrow of the government? Apparently that's against the law
posted by delmoi at 9:02 AM on May 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh, and in other more hilarious censorship news, Free republic bans Giuliani supporters. Big fans of free speech, these guys.
posted by delmoi at 9:07 AM on May 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


I sent email to BoingBoing and Xeni already. I encourage others to do the same.

Christ, doesn't everybody already have a XeniFilter Firefox extension? Her posts are beyond moronic, and I suppose she thinks she's some sort of Central American expert, which is why she's posting about Venezuela.

If you do send them an email, don't use your real name. You don't want to provoke those idiots. I'm being serious...
posted by KokuRyu at 9:11 AM on May 28, 2007


blahblahblah I think in large part the support of Chavez is a reaction to Bush's attempts to make him out to be the greatest villan ever. Not that "Bush hates him, so I'm for him" is really a well nuanced approach to politics, but I think it helps explain things.

At least, its the reason why I'm not as anti-Chavez as I could be. I'll agree that Chavez does seem to be going down the dictator path, and that's definately not a good thing. I'm also not really happy with his praise for Castro, but again, given that Castro has been America's communist whipping boy [1] I find it a bit difficult not to defend Chavez's relations with Castro simply as a way to flip the bird to Bush.

While flipping Bush the rhetorical bird is fun, it isn't really why I'm at least semi-pro-Chavez. I simply see him as the best of the bad options. His only real opposition is a bunch of plutocrats who'd grind the country back into crushing poverty.

There's also this: so far Chavez has not stolen an election. All the elections in Venezuela lately have been monitored by reputable third parties and they've all been certified as clean. Obviously that may change, but *so*far* he's still the democratically elected President of Venezuela.

[1] That is: The commie that Republicans hate on to try and hide their cozying up to the Butchers of Bejing. You'll notice that we have normal relations with China, which is (officially) communist and has at least as many human rights violations as Cuba, but its always Cuba that's the big bad commies because they don't have any slave labor for Bush's buddies to exploit.
posted by sotonohito at 9:13 AM on May 28, 2007 [5 favorites]


Oh, forgot to mention: the fact that the American right is so virulantly anti-Chavez that they supported a military coup to oust a democratically elected president did a lot to make me kneejerk oppose any American anti-Chavez sentiment. A coup against a democratically elected government is not a good thing, and the fact that the American right wanted to pretend that it was really pisses me off.
posted by sotonohito at 9:17 AM on May 28, 2007 [6 favorites]


But that doesn't mean that there's isn't more than a little truth in loquax's complaint.

As far as I can tell, loquax's position is the same worn out domino theory that spawned the Vietnam war and the CIA-led coup in Iran that dumped a democratically elected secularist when he tried to nationalize the oil there in the early 50's. Of course, the domino theory was a dressed up colonial method that has been treading all over South and Central America for a century or more. The problems with variants of the domino theory is that they are paranoid of any change, and judge all baby steps in democracy as if we never had a civil war or slavery.

1953: CIA topples democratically elected Iranians for reclaiming their oil fields:

1954: CIA topples democratically elected Guatemala for reclaiming their banana fields (then again in 1960)

1960-63: The CIA creates leftist organizations in Ecuador to control the right and the left, ruining a new democracy:

1960-66: Dominican Republic continues to struggle for democracy against the CIA’s wishes:

Excerpt from an encyclopedia:

In 1962, Juan Bosch was elected president in the country’s first free election, then ousted by a military coup in 1963. In 1965, twenty thousand U.S. Marines were sent to the Dominican Republic to prevent an insurrection from restoring the ousted Juan Bosch as president. Bosch had refused to sell off nationally-owned sugar plantations and industries to private U.S. companies and investors. This military action by the U.S. and the subsequent political and economic repercussions are some of the reasons why many Dominicans of all backgrounds, especially the economically poor working class, came to the U.S. in large numbers through to the 1990's.


1973: Democratically-elected socialist leader Allende removed in an emergency CIA intervention, replaced with 25 years of murderous military dictatorship:

Note that the list does not end here. The Philippines, Indonesia, Brazil, and most of the smaller developing world has felt the presence of the CIA in attempting to create military dictatorships that serve corrupt colonial American interests.
posted by Brian B. at 9:27 AM on May 28, 2007 [13 favorites]


blahblahblah: It's not that I respect Chavez or really know that much about him, it's just that whenever he comes up people seem to have this attitude about him that he's as bad as Hitler or something, some sort of horrible fascist dictator who's evil incarnate. The evidence for this is, well, none is ever really presented.

It's actually really frustrating. Where does this idea come from? It's just this general, nebulous feeling people have. I asked once what the problem was and the best I got was a few paragraphs of more nebulous value-judgment stuff. People don't like his rhetoric? His anti-bush stuff? In my view, people need to take specific actions to be hated, not just talk shit.

Lets not forget, a few months after Bush took over the White House, There was a coup against him. This TV station, and the Bush administration both supported the coup. I believe they even "congratulated" the new administration. When Chavez came back to power, the bush administration chastised him. I think you can see how would leave a bad taste in someone's mouth. Yet, almost all of the criticism and ill will toward the guy seem to be basically based on the fact that he's Anti-American.

Obviously there are things about him you can criticize, but how does he stack up to staunch U.S. Allies such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, etc.

So I guess defending Chavez is an attempt to push back against what I see as irrational hatred for the guy. What specific steps has he taken that you don't like? How do those actions compare to other countries around the world?
posted by delmoi at 9:29 AM on May 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


delmoi sums up my feelings on the matter. He seems vaguely creepy, but how does he compare to say the leaders in the host of other countries the US supports, and the US media says nothing about? It seems to me American's only cares about shit like this when it is someone who isn't under their thumb causing a ruckus.
posted by chunking express at 9:38 AM on May 28, 2007


(god, what a poorly worded comment.)
posted by chunking express at 9:39 AM on May 28, 2007


I completely agree with Ethereal Bligh. Chávez is a nationalist populist with strong militaristic tendencies and somewhat expansionistic designs on his neighbours. What distinguishes him from, say, Mussolini?

Moreover, those who decry the coup attempt against him seem to forget that he first entered politics with a failed coup attempt of his own.

Chávez is indeed popular in Venezuela, but then, he has been incredibly lucky to be in office just as the oil prices have shot to the roof. With such a windfall, people are going to feel the wealth, even under the most inept economic management.

Now, the only reason to feel sympathy for Chávez is that most of his enemies (the corrupt oligarchy that ruled Venezuela before him, and the Bush Administration) are also quite despicable. However, my enemy's enemy is not necessarily my friend, and the ease with which many leftists are ready to consider Chávez at least "their sonuvabitch" is unsettling. Never mind that it is self-defeating when precisely those more inclined to see fascist tendencies in Bush are blind to far more evident parallels between Chávez' "Bolivarianism" and historical fascism.
posted by Skeptic at 9:40 AM on May 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


I would not like Chavez to be president of MY country, but so far, i think, everything he's done is well within the bounds of 'reasonable' government action.

Not ideal, surely, but he could be much worse.
posted by empath at 9:44 AM on May 28, 2007


If you do send them an email, don't use your real name.

Luckily there's a real name gone begging. Sign it Jennifer Gardner.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:46 AM on May 28, 2007


What I have read from left-libertarians and anarchists in Venezuela does raise the real concern that Chavez is indeed concentrating power in his own hands and squandering an opportunity. From a distance and getting news through various lenses, I'm inclined to take their word.
It may not be the whole story, but incidents like this tend to confirm the fear. If nothing else, it seems an unnecessary and impolitic move, for the reasons silence gives above.
Since graymouser mentioned Trotsky, a 1947 critique by Paul Mattick, Bolshevism and Stalinism, describes the trajectory I fear Chavismo is taking.
posted by Abiezer at 9:50 AM on May 28, 2007


Mind that I never said, nor do I believe that his predecessors were particularly good for the country or the people, nor do I comment on the particular people or groups that wish to replace him, it's just painfully obvious that whatever the answer is for Venezuela/South America/Cuba, it's not Hugo and the boys.

The answer is whomever the people elected, which is Hugo and his boys. Let the Venezuelans decide their own government and stop apologizing for "well-meaning" coup attempts.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:58 AM on May 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


Chávez is indeed popular in Venezuela, but then, he has been incredibly lucky to be in office just as the oil prices have shot to the roof. With such a windfall, people are going to feel the wealth, even under the most inept economic management.

Then the moral argument is over because the right wing in America is supported by people who want to overthrow the US government and replace it with a theocracy and they are involved here, mad at Chavez for registering their missionaries. America has forfeited the right to lecture in this region because it is just an underhanded way to corrupt nations into surrendering to economic dominance. It seems that only a populist can withstand our oil corruption at this point. I might add that the real back story here is that the people of the United States got screwed out of same off shore oil give away that Chavez took back for his country and is the real funding for all the whining. Not coincidentally, the Bush family's former Zapata petroleum used their government connections to secure off shore drilling for a pittance, which some say costs us over 100 billion per year.
posted by Brian B. at 10:05 AM on May 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Blazecock Pigeon: I really don't want to Godwin this thread, but do you know who else was elected?

Certainly, it's stupid or self-serving, considering the precedents, to listen to Washington deliver certificates of democracy. However, it is well worth considering that democracy is more than just handing power to whomever got the most votes. A well-functioning democracy also needs checks and balances, a functioning judiciary, freedom of speech, rule of law and a few other niceties that Chávez, frankly, doesn't seem to hold in very high esteem.
posted by Skeptic at 10:11 AM on May 28, 2007


I don't think I need to point out to anyone here that the US has an amazing history of Latin American military interventions in support of US business interests. In some of these countries, the number of times that the US has taken direct military action on their soil and even occupied cities is in the double-digits. The US has zero credibility in this region and the average American doesn't understand this at all because they are completely unaware of the history. So, as others have mentioned in their comments, it's hard not to be sympathetic to Chavez. I have a hard time these days not being sympathetic to Castro.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:20 AM on May 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Blazecock Pigeon: I really don't want to Godwin this thread, but do you know who else was elected?

Nice ad hom. Godwin it up all you want. Until Chavez annexes surrounding countries, he's just another democratically elected leader, just like Dubya.

A well-functioning democracy also needs checks and balances, a functioning judiciary, freedom of speech, rule of law and a few other niceties that Chávez, frankly, doesn't seem to hold in very high esteem.

Neither does Bush, but oddly the same criticisms aren't directed at him by "well-meaning" Americans.

In any case, anyone familiar with how South American government works knows that the US has installed numerous dictators over the decades who have done much worse than Chavez.

At least he was elected by his own people. Let them work out what a democracy means on their own, with their own blood. That's how democracies get started.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:22 AM on May 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


Skeptic You are absolutely correct, especially regarding there being more to democracy (or rather free governments) than simply handing power to the guy who got the votes.

The problem is that the US right wing has a) a very nasty history of making things worse in Central and South America, and b) a tendency to look for any excuse to continue making things worse in Central and South America. This means that if the opponents of Bush say "yeah, Chavez isn't a great guy", then Bush hears "If we send in the CIA for yet another South American coup no one will complain too much". So I'm reluctant to acknowledge the reality that, yeah, Chavez isn't really a great guy.
posted by sotonohito at 10:25 AM on May 28, 2007


I don't care for Chavez due to his autocratic tendencies, but he's far better than his opposition.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:41 AM on May 28, 2007


Blazecock Pigeon "Ad hom"? Excuse me, but I just fail to see what in my post could be construed as an "ad hominem" attack onto you. I attacked your argument that, because a majority of Venezuelans voters chose Chávez one should just shut up. A majority of American voters chose Bush (the second time, anyway) and that won't hold me back from shouting that he's an idiot. Since most of the things that disgust me in Bush, I find squared in Chávez, I won't refrain from being equally outspoken, even if I'm neither Venezuelan, nor American.

Or do you agree with Bush's own "either with us or against us" line?
posted by Skeptic at 10:42 AM on May 28, 2007


America has forfeited the right to lecture in this region because it is just an underhanded way to corrupt nations into surrendering to economic dominance.

Fine, then can non-Americans lecture in the region against bedding up with Venezuela's new arms suppliers, the well-known non-interventionists Russia, China and Iran? Granted, there isn't a CIA among the bunch, but the FSB and various Chinese agencies do all right for themselves. Anyways, the UN, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Freedom house, Reporters without borders and various rational governments have either condemned Chavez outright or condemned his various actions. So I don't care what "moral authority" the US has or doesn't have.
posted by loquax at 10:47 AM on May 28, 2007


if the opponents of Bush say "yeah, Chavez isn't a great guy", then Bush hears "If we send in the CIA ... no one will complain".

If a rat's ass falls in the forest, does Karl Rove Dick Cheney?
posted by ~ at 10:53 AM on May 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


loquax, the amnesty international link includes the United States and the list of outrages against Venezuela may have improved, so it doesn't mean anything yet. The Human Right Watch is repeating the charge of limiting expression by denying the TV station its license. The Freedom House link is handing out grades and commentary without the benefit of cross comparing them to others, or the past, and the last link is repeating TV closure again. In all, nothing applies to the current debate.
posted by Brian B. at 10:56 AM on May 28, 2007


In all, nothing applies to the current debate.

Oho, but the CIA operations in Guatemala in 1953 do huh?

From Amnesty:

Human rights defenders continued to be threatened and intimidated. In May the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights reiterated its concern at threats and other open hostility towards human rights defenders by government officials who publicly referred to human rights defenders as "coup plotters" and agents of instability.

From HRW:

The Venezuelan government’s politically motivated decision not to renew a television broadcasting license is a serious setback for freedom of expression in Venezuela, Human Rights Watch said today.

From Freedom House (2006):

In practice, widespread arbitrary detention and torture of suspects do take place in Venezuela-although most of these cases involve criminal suspects-as well as dozens of extrajudicial killings by military security forces and the police. Such extralegal acts are often characterized officially, despite eyewitness testimony, as the result of confrontations. The independent group Venezuelan Program of Education and Action on Human Rights (PROVEA) charged that the number of those reported to have been killed by the security forces while resisting arrest increased by 300 percent in the past decade. It also said that in the past five years, the number of cases of torture has risen by 90 percent. Chavez government action against police and security officers guilty of abusing both political opponents and suspects of common crimes is virtually nonexistent. In addition, 90 percent of all investigations into human rights violations do not make it past the preliminary stages of the process.

From RWB:

“The closure of RCTV, which was founded in 1953, is a serious violation of freedom of expression and a major setback to democracy and pluralism,” the press freedom organisation said. “President Chávez has silenced Venezuela’s most popular TV station and the only national station to criticise him, and he has violated all legal norms by seizing RCTV’s broadcast equipment for the new public TV station that is replacing it.”

Reporters Without Borders continued: “The grounds given for not renewing RCTV’s licence, including its support, along with other media, for the April 2002 coup attempt, are just pretexts. Other privately-owned TV stations that supported the coup attempt have not suffered the same fate because they subsequently adopted a subservient attitude towards the regime.”

Directly or indirectly, President Chávez now controls almost all the broadcast media. RCTV’s closures is not, as he would have people believe, a mere administrative measure. It is a political move designed to reinforce his hegemony over the news media.


How does none of this apply to the current debate? Unless the debate you're referring to is around your straw man argument about CIA coups decades ago?
posted by loquax at 11:07 AM on May 28, 2007


If there is a moral in all this, it is that the People will support Socialism but never never should a Socialist (r any other) govt try to keep TV from the People...lower wages, cut food and energy supplies, curb demonstrations, bring about a draft and police state. Just do not mess with TV!
posted by Postroad at 11:12 AM on May 28, 2007


So loquax, should TV stations that openly advocate the violent removal of the president and participate in the coup stay on the air?
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:16 AM on May 28, 2007


So Pope Guilty, did this TV station do that? Was anyone at the TV station ever charged with any crime? Was there ever a trial addressing the allegations? Or was this simply a trumped-up political charge, like his accusations against human rights workers, opposition parties, and anyone else he doesn't like?

From HRW:

The White Book accuses RCTV of “inciting rebellion,” showing “lack of respect for authorities and institutions,” breaking the laws protecting minors, engaging in monopolistic practices, and failing to pay taxes. However, it does not cite a single final judicial or administrative ruling establishing that the channel had in fact committed any of these alleged offenses during its 20–year contract. No one from the channel has been convicted for their alleged complicity in the attempted coup.


So Pope Guilty, should free speech be shut down on the arbitrary say so of a convicted coupist President-for-life who rules by decree?
posted by loquax at 11:22 AM on May 28, 2007


Oho, but the CIA operations in Guatemala in 1953 do huh?


Yes. The context of this debate is our policies and posture towards Venezuela and therefore it applies, unless you are telling us to pray for them instead. I note here the obvious: that your position is special pleading for states like Saudi Arabia and about twenty others, which are in bed with our oil companies and president.

From HRW:

The Venezuelan government’s politically motivated decision not to renew a television broadcasting license is a serious setback for freedom of expression in Venezuela, Human Rights Watch said today.


They are quoting themselves now?

The other links are just quoting interest groups, which may or may not be legitimate or run by missionaries. The point being that I don't know they aren't CIA fronts. The final argument here is what can you do about it without special pleading for making an exception? You only serve the oil companies what they secretly want. We drove Venezuela to the brink of lockdown because the US doesn't know how to foster democracy anymore, but only knows how to exploit it.
posted by Brian B. at 11:23 AM on May 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Chavez is an authoritarian fuck. A cut-rate Stalin to Bush's amateur-hour Hitler. He'll probably only bring down 3 or 4 countries with him, though. Brazil and Argentina both seem to have the good sense to keep their distance.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:23 AM on May 28, 2007


Brian B. writes "The point being that I don't know they aren't CIA fronts."

And how do we know that you're not a CIA counter black-op infiltrator, huh? Or an FBI agent trying to spy on American supporters of the Bolivarian revolution?
posted by mr_roboto at 11:25 AM on May 28, 2007


So Pope Guilty, should free speech be shut down on the arbitrary say so of a convicted coupist President-for-life who rules by decree?

I'm sorry if I trust Venezuelans more about what happens in Venezuela more than I trust right-wing supporters of the autocratic oligarchy that was overthrown, but, uh... no, wait, I'm not sorry.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:28 AM on May 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


And how do we know that you're not a CIA counter black-op infiltrator, huh? Or an FBI agent trying to spy on American supporters of the Bolivarian revolution?

IM IN UR FILTR...
posted by Brian B. at 11:31 AM on May 28, 2007


Pope Guilty writes "I'm sorry if I trust Venezuelans more about what happens in Venezuela"

C'mon, your holiness. Authoritarians get elected all the time. Once the president starts pulling down checks and balances, it's time to worry. Putin, for instance, is incredibly popular, too, but you'd have to be incredibly naive not to be concerned about his autocratic tendencies.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:33 AM on May 28, 2007


I would not like Chavez to be president of MY country.

Barring the language difficulties, I'd certainly take him over Blair and HM QEII, assuming he could get elected in a country like Britain that has a taste for smarmy right-wingers.

Seriously, though, this isn't a bad test. Many apologists for the Warsaw Pact were easily demolished when asked if they'd really prefer to live in the GDR. I'll give another example: is there anyone here who would rather live in "liberated" Iraq than the imperfectly democratic Iran? Or even in thoroughly dictatorial Egypt rather than Iran? If you don't choose Iran in both those cases I can only assume you're not aware of living conditions and the human rights situation in these countries.

And yes, I would rather live in Chavez-run Venezuela than in Uribe-run Colombia etc.
posted by imperium at 11:33 AM on May 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Was anyone at the TV station ever charged with any crime?

"Crime"? I'm sorry, did someone go to prison? We're talking about nonrenewal of a broadcast license. In the U.S., the FCC could revoke (or as in this case, simply decline to renew) a station's license on its own authority purely on the basis of what they broadcast; no judicial authority would be required.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:34 AM on May 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


"Bush hates him, so I'm for him" is[n't] really a well nuanced approach to politics

But it works.

"I was able to get a sense of his soul, a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country,"

This Chavez guy reminds me of a cross between Messrs. Putin and Noriega.

your straw man argument about CIA coups decades ago

I fail to see why the same fucking players that were rolling in the 70s & 80s wouldn't be up to their same tricks now.

Economically, the same state-corporatists mofos that screwed up the 20th century for millions of people -- in the name of Democracy, in OUR name -- would really like to see a Venezuela back on our team, not on the Cuban/Bolivian non-aligned (at best, for us) axis.

McNaughton, in the 60s, broke-out the US of A's commitments quite succinctly:
1. US aims:

70% -- To avoid a humiliating US defeat (to our reputation as a guarantor).
20% -- To keep SVN (and then adjacent) territory from Chinese hands.
10% -- To permit the people of SVN to enjoy a better, freer way of life.

posted by Heywood Mogroot at 11:36 AM on May 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


C'mon, your holiness. Authoritarians get elected all the time. Once the president starts pulling down checks and balances, it's time to worry. Putin, for instance, is incredibly popular, too, but you'd have to be incredibly naive not to be concerned about his autocratic tendencies.

Woah, there. I don't like Chavez. I'm simply arguing that shutting down a media outlet for encouraging people to kill the president isn't exactly an evil act.

This Chavez guy reminds me of a cross between Messrs. Putin and Noriega.

The right-wing authoritarians? A left-wing populist autocrat and your best comparison is Putin and Noriega?
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:43 AM on May 28, 2007


"Bush hates him, so I'm for him" is[n't] really a well nuanced approach to politics

But it works.


This is all that really needs to be said.

Thuggish south American dictator in the making stifling opposition and building up the military and political power to declare himself generalissimo for life? Islamic fundamentalists spreading their violent disregard for the rights of women, gays, and infidels all over the world? President of a nation less than a decade away from nuclear weapons calling for the destruction of a neighbouring country and sponsoring "conferences" to further denial of the worst genocide in recent history?

We can close our eyes to that, because they all hate Bush! The enemy of our enemy is our friend! Baa! Moo!
posted by Krrrlson at 11:51 AM on May 28, 2007


The day the right wingnuts in American whine about sending all jobs to communist China so they buy the cheapest made garbage from their favorite Walmart is the day I will suddenly take them seriously about Chavez's socialism.
posted by Brian B. at 11:54 AM on May 28, 2007 [4 favorites]


We can close our eyes to that, because they all hate Bush!

I don't close my eyes to that, I just think it's not in our rights to fuck with their system of government.

Jesus' / Confucius' Golden Rule, and all that.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 12:12 PM on May 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Noriega was something of a rabble-rousing populist, too. The Putin bit may be unfair, but maybe not.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 12:13 PM on May 28, 2007


My type can't be much worse than Chavez and his thugs. And if you want to bring up Chile, can I bring up Czechoslovakia in 1968? Or Hungary in 1956? Or any other perverted socialist paradise that was exposed for the inhuman dictatorship that it was? One day you'll be embarrassed that you supported Chavez in any way. Just like your type embarrassed itself by spreading Stalinist propaganda in the 1930's.

God knows we're suffering for all the nice things we said about black people, women and homosexuals.
posted by mobunited at 12:24 PM on May 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Some new events.
posted by epugachev at 12:26 PM on May 28, 2007


Let's be honest here. It wouldn't matter if he were a dictator so long as he were pro-U.S.. Actually, a pro-U.S. dictator would probably be favored over a friendly democratically elected leader, since the latter could be replaced by his people, unhappy having their resources sold out from under them.

Leaders the U.S. likes? Well that Pinochet was a nice chap. And don't forget Saddam before he became a Bad Guy.
posted by dreamsign at 12:34 PM on May 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


I noticed that alleged torture of criminal suspects by local police was brought up in regards to Venezuela, something to the effect of increasing 90% in the past five years. If true this is the worst case against Chavez's leadership, although it doesn't even come close to comparing to the US increase in torture in the last five years. Check out this link to find out what American conservatives think of the use of torture, which has officially become a campaign issue they openly applaud. Chavez is probably a moral standard when compared to his average American critic.
posted by Brian B. at 12:40 PM on May 28, 2007


Interesting debate, thanks all, for me it has added colour and detail to the media coverage, which I now feel I understand better.

But there's one thing that hasn't been clear to me either from that coverage or this debate: this controversial TV station aside, how healthy is the rest of the anti-Chavez (or at least Chavez-sceptical and Chavez-holding-to-account) media in Venezuela? Is there any? Is it allowed to operate? Does it operate responsibly?

I'm not picking a side, just curious.
posted by WPW at 1:03 PM on May 28, 2007


For crying out loud Brian B. et al, get over your fixation with the US. The US may or may not be a very bad place which may or may not be lead by a very bad person. It is utterly irrelevant in a discussion as to whether Chavez and his government are bad. If the US has an appalling record of torture it doesn't make it any more or less acceptable in Venezuela.

The sickening hypocrisy that some people on the left show to Chavez is utterly disgusting. The same people who rightly protest about human rights abuses by Bush and others are totally blind to similarly dramatic failings by a politician they support.

I'm sure that, when they take a long, hard look at what they're saying, many of those jumping to Chavez's defence here will find themselves rather uncomfortably placed on the side of the riot baton and the water cannon, whilst the rest of us stand, metaphorically at least, with the students...
posted by prentiz at 1:16 PM on May 28, 2007


epugachev and prentiz, some context: the group of "students" who were confronting the national guard are from Bandera Roja, a well known paramilitary group (and political party) of the opposition. This I heard from Venezuelan state TV, which started warning yesterday actual students that BR was going to do these demonstrations and try to provoke incidents with the police. I don't know any of them personally, I wasn't there, I am only telling you something the AP article (not to my surprise) fails to mention. So careful there, good intentions, prentiz, may find you daringly standing at the side of paramilitaries posing as students.
posted by micayetoca at 1:27 PM on May 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


You got me there micayetoca - I should know better than to take my sources at face value. Equally though one would have thought that Venezuelan state TV may have something of a bias here - and I've never seen the SF Chronicle as a particularly right wing paper...
posted by prentiz at 1:39 PM on May 28, 2007


Off topic, but the Citgo gas stations have a cash card program that lets you buy gas at a few cents-per-gallon cheaper if you deposit money in your Citgo account and use their card. Does anyone know if the mechanisms behind this make any money for Chavez via interest and investment of the gas card fund?
posted by Burhanistan at 1:46 PM on May 28, 2007


For crying out loud Brian B. et al, get over your fixation with the US. The US may or may not be a very bad place which may or may not be lead by a very bad person. It is utterly irrelevant in a discussion as to whether Chavez and his government are bad. If the US has an appalling record of torture it doesn't make it any more or less acceptable in Venezuela.

Actually, I'm making the argument that US policy is insincere and concerned only with oil. If people were going hungry in an oil rich nation, then that explains why Chavez is in power. Even the Saudis were never that callous. You no longer have a moral argument here because you conveniently removed hypocrisy from the discussion in order to make your case, while I was targeting hypocrisy itself. You can't judge in a moral vacuum for your own indulgence because you can't do anything about it, there is nobody to set things right if the US is more corrupt (which is disregarding our contributions to the cause of his popularity).
posted by Brian B. at 1:47 PM on May 28, 2007


WPW - despite what has been said elsewhere in this thread, the majority of the media in Venezuela is anti-Chavez. And if you want to know more about this issue you really have to watch "The revolution will not be televised". It seems as if I tell people to watch this documentary in every third posting I do to Metafilter, but really - watch it.
posted by silence at 1:47 PM on May 28, 2007


But there's one thing that hasn't been clear to me either from that coverage or this debate: this controversial TV station aside, how healthy is the rest of the anti-Chavez (or at least Chavez-sceptical and Chavez-holding-to-account) media in Venezuela? Is there any? Is it allowed to operate? Does it operate responsibly?

I'm not picking a side, just curious.

posted by WPW

I'll try to answer your questions.

Q. Is there any (media criticizing Chavez)

A. Yes, there are many media outlets. Famously the TV Channel Globovision, some others like Televen, several (quite a few) newspapers like El Nuevo País (and many others) radio stations, many blogs, books that circulate freely, conferences, lectures, etc. Chavez is under constant criticism of all kinds. From people questioning his plans or economic decisions, to people criticizing his background, skin color, anything you can imagine.

Q. Is it allowed to operate?

A. Yes.

Q. Does it operate responsibly?

A. No, and that is a huge part of the problem and I'll give you an example that I've actually seen happen. Imagine there is a demonstration by supporters of Chavez at which Chavez is going to deliver a speech. People expect him to arrive at eleven or twelve (at noon). Globovisión goes there at nine thirty in the morning, records the people there, then they go to the station and broadcast those images from 9:30 am at noon, just before Chavez arrives, and they say it's live coverage. They have a reporter on camera saying, "as we can see, nobody believes in President Chavez, due to the way he has squandered our resources. There are but a handful of supporters here at his demonstration, he no longer has that multitudinary support he ...."

You can imagine the rest.

That is what passes for journalism here. So, before the coup in 2002, private companies controlled most of the media and when the coup took place, they managed to isolate Chavez. The opposition shut down the only state channel at the time (VTV) and people had no way of knowing what was going on. It wasn't until the daughter of Chavez called CNN and said her father didn't resign, that people realized Chavez was kidnapped and took to the streets en masse.

But the point is that the coup taught Chavez (this has been acknowledged by him) that they couldn't let themselves be isolated like that anymore, and they, since, started a massive propaganda campaign. In the state TV channel (and the many more they've launched since) you now see the news programs copying the techniques used by the opposition (like that of recording demonstrations early in the morning and broadcasting it later, and many others) so, another bad effect of the bad quality of journalism used by anti-chavez media: that Chavez's own media has started to copy it, as a defense mechanism.

In short: they do not operate responsibly, and the worst thing about it, is that in order to counter their effect, the Chavismo has started copying their tactics.

I could write about this for days and days, but this is long enough already. If you have any more questions write them in a comment and I'll try to answer with what I know or what I've seen here.
posted by micayetoca at 1:57 PM on May 28, 2007 [10 favorites]


silence and micayetoca: Thanks!
posted by WPW at 2:03 PM on May 28, 2007


The Revolution will not be televised is a great movie and I recommend everyone see it, but don't think it's a fair and unbiased movie representing more than one viewpoint. It's a one-sided view of a charismatic figure. They show how horrible it is that some people would try to remove Chávez by a coup, and don't mention that Chávez bombed the capitol in his 1992 coup attempt.
posted by MtDewd at 4:00 PM on May 28, 2007


... and don't mention that Chávez bombed the capitol in his 1992 coup attempt.
posted by MtDewd

Chavez didn't bomb anything, and that was the problem. He was the one leader on that coup that didn't materialize his part, the rest did. Actually, after Chavez called to the reform of the constitution on 2000, he held another election. Running against him was Francisco Arias Cardenas, who has long said he was the actual leader of that 1992 failed coup. He based his campaign in going around the country with a chicken, saying: "this is your choice, the chicken, or me," the chicken being in reference to Chavez, under the argument that Chavez didn't dare to bomb Miraflores Palace (not the capitol).

That same Francisco Arias Cardenas did some time in jail with him, and after Chavez became president he became one of his most bitter opponents. He said some of the nastiest things that have been said about Chávez in public, with the "authority" of someone who knew him from years in the army, years in jail, and the years after being released.

Recently he was Venezuela's ambassador in the UN. "He is
like my brother, and brothers sometimes fight, don't they?" is what Chavez said.
posted by micayetoca at 4:24 PM on May 28, 2007 [5 favorites]


The sickening hypocrisy that some people on the left show to Chavez is utterly disgusting. The same people who rightly protest about human rights abuses by Bush and others are totally blind to similarly dramatic failings by a politician they support.

I'm no Chavez fan. But to paraphrase, "The sickening hypocrisy that some people on the left show to Chavez anyone demonized by the American press is utterly disgusting"

How is America's history of human rights abuses relevant? It's not so we can point fingers or make trite statements about glass houses. After all, one human rights abuse does not cancel out another. It's because if you want to know why the U.S. opposes certain leaders, you have to pay attention to the discrepancy between what America says and what America does. And you know when there's a discrepancy, which to pay attention to.

Does America support human rights abuses? Yes.
Does America support those who commit human rights abuses? Yes, when those people support American trade interests. THAT IS ALL. Elected rep, despot -- irrelevant -- except, as I mentioned, when it affects the ability of your man to remain loyal and effective. Human rights abuser, human rights promoter -- irrelevant -- except that human rights often get in the way of exploitative trade.

Pull your head out of the fucking sand and open a history book already.
posted by dreamsign at 8:14 PM on May 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


C'mon guys, whatever your politics, surely you can agree that the McKenzie Brothers were hilarious.

What? RCTV? Oh. Nevermind then.
posted by Rangeboy at 8:37 PM on May 28, 2007


gracias, micayetoca, for your valuable bits of context. I keep reading chavez threads without learning anything.

speaking as a US citizen, i support the revocation of Fox News' corporate charter, as an action worthy of a more healthy democracy. Many of our news organizations have spread lies here and there, but this company has argued in a Florida court that lying is not outside of the scope of its business as a media outlet.

Project Censored:
What is more appalling are the five major media outlets that filed briefs of Amici Curiae- or friend of FOX – to support FOX’s position: Belo Corporation, Cox Television, Inc., Gannett Co., Inc., Media General Operations, Inc., and Post-Newsweek Stations, Inc.

It could happen here! as long as we keep dreaming.
posted by eustatic at 9:36 PM on May 28, 2007


speaking as a US citizen, i support the revocation of Fox News' corporate charter, as an action worthy of a more healthy democracy.

I support freedom, as long as it's for me and people who believe the same things as I do.
posted by Krrrlson at 10:07 PM on May 28, 2007


I support freedom, as long as it's for me and people who believe the same things as I do.

When the definition of freedom is so tortured and twisted that selling poison labeled as food is regarded as a right, something's horribly wrong.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:00 PM on May 28, 2007


Hey, you don't suppose Chavez is a MeFite, do you?

Hey HUGO! Listen up!

We don't give a flying fuck what you do or don't do to your people so long as you play ball with us. You want to oppress them? We'll sell you the tools and expertise. You want to bury them? We'll sell you the tombstones. Just don't cut us out of the loop, understand?

And hey, if you do decide to smarten up, consider the whole president-for-life thing. You knew we were kidding about that democracy business, right?
posted by dreamsign at 12:29 AM on May 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


> Q. Is there any (media criticizing Chavez)
>
> A. Yes, there are many media outlets. Famously the TV Channel Globovision, some others like Televen,
> several (quite a few) newspapers like El Nuevo País (and many others) radio stations, many blogs, books
> that circulate freely, conferences, lectures, etc. Chavez is under constant criticism of all kinds. From people
> questioning his plans or economic decisions, to people criticizing his background, skin color, anything you
> can imagine.
>
> Q. Is it allowed to operate?
>
> A. Yes. '

RCTV went down yesterday, Globovision goes down today.
posted by jfuller at 4:20 AM on May 29, 2007


Look at all the paramilitaries...
posted by prentiz at 9:26 AM on May 29, 2007


Makes you kinda wish the paramilitaries in your country looked like her, doesn't it?

Sorry about that, prentiz. Still, I wasn't saying they were paramilitaries, I was contributing something that wasn't mentioned in the AP article. Also, there were protests all over the city, some by students, some by civilians (non-students, I mean), and some by armed civilians who confronted the police with guns and there are plenty of pictures about them all in the news.

And there will be pictures to support the argument that Chavez is a cruel dictator. There will be pictures to support the argument that Chavez is a man of the people, fighting for the less favored. There will be pictures to support every argument we can come up with. My point in the above comment was to say: don't be so quick to judge, or decide that one side or the other is completely right and that by taking sides you are actually on the good guy's side of the fence (if there is such a thing).

RCTV itself is a good example. I think it is a bad thing that their license wasn't renewed for political reasons, but I think they didn't deserve a license in the first place. Not for their ideals, but because it was horrendous TV. Someone mentioned the other day that in the European Union RCTV wouldn't have been granted a license for open-air transmission in the first place (don't know if that is true). So it was a abhorrent TV station, yet it was bad to shut it down for political reasons. Still, shutting it down for political reasons doesn't makes Chavez comparable to Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, Allende, Pinochet, Castro, Bush, or anyone else really.

My point, if I have to say it in a few words, is: you don't have to take sides, none of the parties here is right the whole time and please try to see judge what is going on in Venezuela by trying to understand what is going on in Venezuela. Chavez is not Castro, Allende, Pot Pol, Bush, any of them. Venezuela is not Cuba, Hungary, Haiti, Colombia, etc.

What is going on here is really interesting, and it is very frustrating whenever I read about it in international media, to see it reduced to comparisons that don't apply, simply because journalists know that people will receive a comparison with the late Soviet Era better than an actual explanation of what is going on here.
posted by micayetoca at 9:50 AM on May 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


something's horribly wrong

the free press, being the mouthpiece of Mammon, has always been quite poisonous to rational discourse, from its earliest days when it was literally a paper press.

viva la internet, eh.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 10:11 AM on May 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


I am reminded of the Chicago Tribune affair of 1942, where the anti-FDR paper nearly torpedoed the entire US war effort in the Pacific out of spite.

Their headline after the battle of Midway was "NAVY HAD WORD OF JAP PLAN TO STRIKE AT SEA", which was sourced from a secret fleet message a reported had received access to while on board the USS Lexington. FDR wanted the paper shut down and the principals executed for treason.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 10:35 AM on May 29, 2007


> FDR wanted the paper shut down and the principals executed for treason.

He may have wanted it but (unlike Hugo) he didn't get it. The World's Greatest Newspaper continues to provide print journalism for your grandparents to this day.
posted by jfuller at 11:02 AM on May 29, 2007


Yet, almost all of the criticism and ill will toward the guy seem to be basically based on the fact that he's Anti-American.

Small correction: He's anti-Bush, not anti-American. The guy actually wanted to help out old folks in the US with heating oil subsidies as I recall.

Thanks to you micayetoca for the valuable input.
posted by nofundy at 11:19 AM on May 29, 2007


He was also offering up aid to the victims of hurricane Katrina.
posted by chunking express at 11:23 AM on May 29, 2007


He may have wanted it but (unlike Hugo) he didn't get it.

Nobody's been executed. A state has exercised its authority not to renew a broadcast license. The Republicans have been threatening to do the same to PBS for years now. Shut the hell up, and get over it. Worry about your own country's internal political affairs for a fucking change.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:34 AM on May 29, 2007


I completely agree with Ethereal Bligh. Chávez is a nationalist populist with strong militaristic tendencies and somewhat expansionistic designs on his neighbours. What distinguishes him from, say, Mussolini?

I dunno, several decades and a continent or two? If you say their similar, you need to list their similarities, not just ask what the diffrence is.

Blazecock Pigeon: I really don't want to Godwin this thread, but do you know who else was elected?

Well, not Hitler. And in any event, Chavez is still in the middle of his elected term. Are you saying Chavez's rhetoric is even remotely close to Hitler's?

Since most of the things that disgust me in Bush, I find squared in Chávez, I won't refrain from being equally outspoken, even if I'm neither Venezuelan, nor American.

Really? Because my main problem with Bush is that he started a seriously fucked up war. So far Chavez hasn't done anything like that. So far I haven't heard anything about Chavez locking people without a trial. I haven't heard anything about Venezuelan government torturing people. I haven't heard anything about him even trying steal elections. So have they been doing those things? Or are those things that you don't mind at all about the current U.S. government? If so, traits, specifically, do you find so repugnant in Chavez but not Bush?
posted by delmoi at 3:42 PM on May 29, 2007


> A state has exercised its authority not to renew a broadcast license.

Um. are you referring to RCTV, which was shut down Sunday? Or the Globovision network, which was shut down today? Because (says the BBC, and it must be true, you can't make stuff like this up)

...Communications Minister Willian Lara said Globovision had called for the death of Mr Chavez by airing footage of the 1981 assassination attempt against Pope John Paul II with the song "This Does Not Stop Here" sung by Ruben Blades, now Panama's tourism minister. "The conclusion of the specialists ... is that (in this segment they are inciting the assassination of the president of Venezuela"

Actually Hugo shows signs of having very high nutball-authoritaritan entertainment value, and I look forward to more of the same on pretty much a daily basis. Why should Bugs Ahmadinejad have the stage all to himself when he could be singing duets with Speedy Chavez?

> Shut the hell up

Um, that would be a no. But it's good to see you have the true Hugo attitude. Maybe there's a place for you in his administration, while it lasts.
posted by jfuller at 5:49 PM on May 29, 2007


Or the Globovision network, which was shut down today?
posted by jfuller

Again, I'm not going to take sides, I just want to keep facts straight, I'm in Venezuela, and Globovision is still broadcasting.
posted by micayetoca at 6:11 PM on May 29, 2007 [2 favorites]


jfuller writes "Or the Globovision network, which was shut down today?"

The article you have linked to does not (as of my writing this comment) claim that Globovision was shut down. Did it make that claim earlier?
posted by mr_roboto at 7:10 PM on May 29, 2007


Since most of the things that disgust me in Bush, I find squared in Chávez

Chavez murdered 36 million foreigners and over 9 million of his own people based on a war of lies?

Maybe if you right wingers and libertarians gave even a quarter of a shit about this administration as you give about some guy in South America who will never affect you ever, we would not have the deaths of hundreds of thousands on our hands.

But hey, maybe we should have the CIA overthrow this democratically elected president of some country who has no power over ours and replace him with some right-wing autocrat bent on crushing most of the populace in abject poverty for a few decades. Hey, it worked for Chile (and Iran, and Iraq, and Vietnam), right?
posted by dirigibleman at 11:31 PM on May 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


The situation appears to be evolving rather quickly
posted by elpapacito at 3:14 AM on May 30, 2007


It's easier for Americans to bitch about problems in other countries than take a good look at problems in their own. Get your own house in order, and leave Venezuelans alone to sort their own problems out themselves. If they need a hand i'm sure they'll ask.
posted by chunking express at 7:02 AM on May 30, 2007


Just in case someone is interested, this woman was the co-host of a program in RCTV (actually, the other co-host was Miguel Angel Rodriguez, linked to in the "protest" link in the original post).

The woman is saying in the video that the place you can see in the picture she shows is Fuerte Tiuna, (the Venezuelan Pentagon, so to speak), and that as we can see in the image, it has been turned into a high-class parking lot, full of the kind or large trucks that the Commander (Chávez, of course) complains so much about. She says "I wonder if this is what they call the 21st century Socialism."

The video then explains that the trucks were parked in the Hyatt Westlake Plaza Hotel, in Westlake Village, California, and were taken from this blog. The photos were altered and presented in her program.
posted by micayetoca at 2:55 PM on May 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


GO CHAVEZ GO

don't let the bastards grind you down
posted by zouhair at 10:56 PM on May 30, 2007


Chavez is a good example as any that disproves the old notion that "the enemy of my enemy (Bush) is my friend".
posted by Burhanistan at 11:07 PM on May 30, 2007


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