Hugo’s the boss


by Rohin
28th May, 2007 at 10:03 pm    

Hugo Chavez has, rightly or wrongly, become something of a cult figure amongst those who enjoy watching Bush squirm with a thorn in his side. However, whilst we can all take pleasure in Bush’s misfortune, judging Chavez and his premiereship in Venezuela objectively is something quite separate.

It has been Venezuela’s media that has been making the world media as of late. Thousands took to the streets yesterday to protest the enforced closure of Venezuela’s oldest and most-watched TV station, Radio Caracas TV. It has been replaced by a state-endorsed station, TVES, which supports Chavez’s socialist revolution.

In an emotional close to the station’s broadcast the staff chanted “freedom” and spent their final moments on air in silent prayer, before signing out with the national anthem. Prior to this, presenters and crew alike highlighted their plight by sealing their mouths with tape in protest at an attack on their freedom of speech.

Supporters of Chavez have been vocal, also demonstrating publically by setting off fireworks and allegedly discharging firearms.

Chavez cited his reasons for closing down RCTV, claiming it “became a threat to the country so I decided not to renew the licence because it’s my responsibility.” RCTV had been critical of Chavez’s regime. He claimed they were heavily involved with a coup attempt five years ago, which almost removed him from power. Indeed several TV channels did support attempts to remove Chavez and many in the media feel he has never forgiven those involved.

“This has exposed the abusive, arbitrary and autocratic nature of Chavez’s government, a government that fears free thought, that fears opinion and fears criticism,” said Marcel Granier, chief of RCTV. TVES has commenced transmission with a classical music selection and government trailers.

This comes on a background of sweeping changes Chavez has made to Venezuela. He has intiated nationalisation and politicisation of power, the judiciary and telecommunication; RCTV is merely a small plan of the grand plan.

From Reuters:

Pollster Datanalisis found almost 70 percent of Venezuelans opposed the shut-down, but most cited the loss of their favorite soap operas rather than concerns about limits on freedom of expression.

Among the Chavez supporters swigging beer and dancing in the streets of central Caracas, some thought the president should go further and shut down the few remaining opposition networks, such as Globovision.

“They all participated in the coup and incited violence,” said shopkeeper Jose Quijada, 58, wearing the hallmark red T-shirt of Chavez supporters.

But Wilmer Granadillo, a cameraman doing his last shift at RCTV, said: “It is sad, so sad. This was my second home.”

RCTV will continue to be available on cable, vastly reducing its audience. They were undoubtedly childish at the time of the attempted coup in 2002 – they played cartoons instead of broadcasting widespread crowds of Chavez supporters – but when can freedom of speech be curtailed?

Update: Reporters Without Borders calls for the international community to support RCTV.


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Filed in: Civil liberties,Current affairs,Media,The World






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  1. Katy — on 28th May, 2007 at 10:12 pm  

    Lordy! Don’t tell me there were Venezuelans who thought they should be allowed to choose their government?

    That is crazy talk. I would have shut down their favourite TV station too.

  2. Leon — on 28th May, 2007 at 10:15 pm  

    If the BBC started supporting the overthrow of our democratically elected government under the supervision of a foreign power how do you think the government would respond?

  3. Vikrant — on 28th May, 2007 at 10:16 pm  

    What else did people expect from Hugo. I am sick of lefties showcasing him as the only world leader cojones to stand up to Bush. At any rate Venezuela now resembles Indira Gandhi’s India with its suicidal nationalization programs and dictatorial laws.

  4. Vikrant — on 28th May, 2007 at 10:17 pm  

    If the BBC started supporting the overthrow of our democratically elected government under the supervision of a foreign power how do you think the government would respond?

    RCTV unlike BBC is privately owned.

  5. Sunny — on 28th May, 2007 at 10:39 pm  

    This is a tricky one for me to be honest. Shutting down any critical voice is censorship. But we have laws against incitement and violence too, so if a station is encouraging an undemocratic coup, then that is akin to inciting violence and anarchy. Why should it continue to exist then? I wouldn’t want to see a television station going around inciting violence tbh.

    There was a story last year when Israel was trying to bomb the Hizballah affiliated television station. That wasn’t made into an issue of free speech but an issue of war and shutting down people who incited terrorism. From Chavez’s perspective these people are inviting American backed terrorism. Isn’t it the same? In both cases I’d probably have them shut down.

    Though Chavez is more worrying in other ways, especially his cosying up to the Iranian prez. But then… the Saudis are our best friends :|

  6. soru — on 28th May, 2007 at 10:43 pm  

    Just looking at those 2 photos, you can physically see the class war going on in that country.

  7. inders — on 28th May, 2007 at 10:50 pm  

    “Pollster Datanalisis found almost 70 percent of Venezuelans opposed the shut-down ”

    If the above statistic is true, then how can this be justified ?

  8. Vikrant — on 28th May, 2007 at 11:05 pm  

    From Chavez’s perspective these people are inviting American backed terrorism. Isn’t it the same? In both cases I’d probably have them shut down.

    Can anybody provide me with a source that affirms Chavez’s allegations! I bet those allegations are trumped up as is the case with pinko-dictatorships.

  9. Vikrant — on 28th May, 2007 at 11:07 pm  

    Going by those two photos, the proletariat are much better looking than the bourgeoisie…

    you can physically see the class war going on in that country.

    Comrades,

    Can we please stick to plain English? All that opaque commie-speak gives me migraines.

  10. Leon — on 28th May, 2007 at 11:15 pm  

    RCTV unlike BBC is privately owned.

    Fine, change BBC to Sky News…

  11. Kulvinder — on 28th May, 2007 at 11:16 pm  

    I don’t agree with what hes done but as leon has already pointed out many countries have sedition laws and limit free speech based on the ‘threat’ the government is facing. Its not that i support Chavez its just that i don’t understand this fixation with him, to be perfectly blunt if Venezuela wasn’t oil rich i doubt ‘the west’ would really care what happened in that country – we don’t even follow Brazilian or Argentinian politics all that closely and they’re far bigger in South America. Whats more the critcism would almost certainly die down even if he became an out and out dictator as long as he broadly supported the US. After all what keeps the Saudis free from governmental heckling both in the US and the UK is the fact they aren’t damned commies and they buy our weapons.

  12. Kulvinder — on 28th May, 2007 at 11:20 pm  

    If the above statistic is true, then how can this be justified ?

    probably because of the second half of the sentence

    …but most cited the loss of their favorite soap operas rather than concerns about limits on freedom of expression.

    If most of the people opposed the shut down because their fav soap wasn’t going to be shown you can assume the implications of free speech wasn’t high on their priorities. Its always about bread and circuses if the soaps are transfered to approved channels the people will be happy.

  13. Vikrant — on 28th May, 2007 at 11:37 pm  

    yeah… yeah… Naxal rant on. Supporting BJP doesnt necessarily imply supporting RSS or anything.

  14. Vikrant — on 28th May, 2007 at 11:47 pm  

    Anyways Naxal wtf are doing by hiding under a Marathi
    name? Did daddy Sunny ban your ass from here?

  15. Vikrant — on 28th May, 2007 at 11:49 pm  

    You should learn to think outside your box and then form an opinion.

    Quite ironic given that you believe in a esoteric combination of dogmatic and irrelevant ideologies.

  16. Leon — on 29th May, 2007 at 12:03 am  

    Muzumdar, can we please stick to the topic at hand and cut out the personal attacks?

  17. Sunny — on 29th May, 2007 at 12:20 am  

    There is indeed too much rubbish being spread about Chavez, which is why half the time I don’t even bother getting into a discussion about him. He’ll have to prove himself and sooner or later his achievements, or lack of them (if that is the case), will show up on the radar. No one is going to invade the country at any rate.

    And Vikrant will continue to denounce anyone other than the BJP as pinkos… :)

  18. Vikrant — on 29th May, 2007 at 12:31 am  

    what topic? you are the one driving this thread OT by your stupid, pompous and verbose commentary.

  19. Vikrant — on 29th May, 2007 at 12:34 am  

    Also, where have I ‘attacked’ Vikrant?

    post #15 is studded with them.

    Sigh… some people have really short memories.

  20. Leon — on 29th May, 2007 at 12:47 am  

    Are you reading the thread or not?

    Yes I am and it was you who in post 15 layed into Vikrant for no reason and started the derail. Enough.

  21. Rumbold — on 29th May, 2007 at 12:49 am  

    Kulvinder:

    It is a shame, judging by your posts on previous threads, that you have chosen to focus on Chavez’s anti-American stance rather than his attitude towards free speech. The closure of a TV station for speaking out against the state (in whatever form) is normally something that would gets you really riled.

    Leon:

    “If the BBC started supporting the overthrow of our democratically elected government under the supervision of a foreign power how do you think the government would respond?”

    A good point to make in general, but the alleged offences took place years ago. If Chavez had proof he should have produced it and the accused should have been prosecuted. Otherwise, he cannot claim that what happened five years ago justifies not renewing a licence now.

    Vikrant:

    “I am sick of lefties showcasing him as the only world leader cojones to stand up to Bush.”

    Well said, if somewhat coarsely.

  22. Katy — on 29th May, 2007 at 12:54 am  

    Leon, you love Chavez. Admit it. You want to snuggle up to him and give him a big anti-imperialist cuddle :-D

  23. Tahir — on 29th May, 2007 at 12:56 am  

    We in the ‘West’ seem concerned with freedom in press and bully leaders when we’re dealing with oil rich states. Not a leftie or a right wing apologist but it seems these attacks on Chavez of late might have something to do with his country having the 3rd largest oil reserves (or something high in the league of oils) other than freedom.

    Has anyone been to Venezuala? It’s really one big oil plantation and if you look on the size of Venezula on the South American continent, it is huge.

    Kinda like the size of Iraq in the Middle East. Call me simple but it’s kinda freaky and simple. Oil.

    So whereever there is oil but isn’t a cozy relationship with the US we get terribly excited about human rights.

    T

  24. Leon — on 29th May, 2007 at 12:58 am  

    Leon, you love Chavez. Admit it. You want to snuggle up to him and give him a big anti-imperialist cuddle

    I actually had the chance to be on the guest list for his visit last year, would have met him and shook his hand but chose not to go. I dislike hero worship of this kind, I find it very very hard to trust any politician especially those who I might agree with.

    In my view all those who want power should be viewed with a cool headed suspicion. Too much bad has come out of blind faith in charismatic leaders…

  25. Refresh — on 29th May, 2007 at 1:59 am  

    Chavez should have tried the station and others along with the head of their CBI equivalent for treason and then shut them down.

    If he has chosen to do it the other way round, well that’s fine too. As long as he does it.

  26. Kulvinder — on 29th May, 2007 at 2:48 am  

    It is a shame, judging by your posts on previous threads, that you have chosen to focus on Chavez’s anti-American stance rather than his attitude towards free speech. The closure of a TV station for speaking out against the state (in whatever form) is normally something that would gets you really riled.

    When have i focussed on it? I’m pointing out the only reason he ‘matters’ is because of his anti-american stance (and his nation’s oil). I’m not actually discussing it.

    I personally don’t agree with what hes doing but don’t really see the point in getting overly upset by it. His fellow countrymen don’t seem that bothered (well more bothered by soaps anyway) its their business – hes democratically elected, thats all id really ask.

  27. Rohin — on 29th May, 2007 at 9:46 am  

    Kulvinder that’s just going on a poll which I quoted from Reuters but don’t know much about. It might have sampled ten people.

    It’s clear his countrymen ARE upset as a very large amount have been protesting. The fact he was democratically elected is somewhat academic.

    BTW, for those comparing the looks of the bourgeois and the proles – the two pics above are from the same group of people, those who worked at the station!

  28. Ravi Naik — on 29th May, 2007 at 12:02 pm  

    I lived in Venezuela when I was a kid. This is simple really: Chavez is a dictator in a democratic regime. He did a coup d’état back in the 80′s, and failed. He managed to get elected democratically, but he is working to extend his mandate for 25 years.

    He closed the station for political reasons, it is not different than what is happening in Russia. As a progressive and someone who values freedom of speech I am appalled by Mr. Chavez, and people from the Left who still support him, and should know better.

  29. Jagdeep — on 29th May, 2007 at 12:30 pm  

    If he has chosen to do it the other way round, well that’s fine too. As long as he does it.

    Ah! Refresh pulls out his jackboots….

  30. Refresh — on 29th May, 2007 at 12:41 pm  

    Jagdeep, I think you’ll find that the 2002 coup was well documented, on camera. And the role of private TV stations was one of the most undemocratic I’ve ever seen.

    If you get the chance watch ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’.

  31. Jagdeep — on 29th May, 2007 at 12:42 pm  

    Oh Refresh you look so fetching in your brownshirt and jackboots….

  32. Refresh — on 29th May, 2007 at 12:53 pm  

    Thanks Jagdeep, hardly a response. Let me know when you’ve seen that documentary.

  33. Jagdeep — on 29th May, 2007 at 12:57 pm  

    The response is that you look very becoming in the jackboot mode of shutting down free media — at a certain point the Leftist strongman resembles the Rightist strongman.

  34. Refresh — on 29th May, 2007 at 1:10 pm  

    Not quite free was it?

    It was anti-democratic. It backed the coup and gave the game away live on TV after they thought they had succeeded.

    The country has an election, the private media in cahoot with the heads of the mailitary establisment, work to destabilise the elected government. Kidnaps the President, holding him at a remote army barracks awaiting pickup by a US helicopter.

    If a key commander at the barracks had not listened to the pleading of ministers, he would not have realised that what he had been ordered to do by the key leaders was against the will of people, the coup would have been successful instead of lasting a couple of days.

    Its a wonder any of the coup leaders and private media owners are not serving extended jail terms.

    If the Chavez government does not renew the license of those same TV companies, would that not be in the interest of the people?

    An alternative perhaps might have been for tighter regulations. But if you are complicit in the overthrow of your elected government – should you have your license renewed even if the option to have tighter regulations was available?

    Watch the documentary. I am sure then you would understand what we are talking about.

    Otherwise the risk is you will end up supporting a self-serving group of plutocrats.

  35. Jagdeep — on 29th May, 2007 at 1:14 pm  

    So the answer is to shut it down completely — nice one Refresh. I trust the thousands protesting against the shutting down in Caracas to know the tenor of this more than a strongman worshipper like you.

  36. Refresh — on 29th May, 2007 at 1:16 pm  

    Jagdeep, lets cut out the jibes.

    Do you have an alternative proposal?

  37. Jagdeep — on 29th May, 2007 at 1:19 pm  

    I’m not making any jibes Refresh.

    Alternative proposal? To what? Closing down a TV station? The alternative is not to close it down.

  38. Jagdeep — on 29th May, 2007 at 1:22 pm  

    Reporters Without Borders says:

    “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.”

    Refresh, seriously, I hope you read this quote carefully, introspect, and reflect upon your jackboot instincts.

  39. Refresh — on 29th May, 2007 at 1:26 pm  

    Read it carefully.

    “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.”

    The statement itself clearly suggests that RCTV’s support for the coup was a pretext. Pretext for what?

    Seems a pretty logical reason for not renewing the license.

  40. Refresh — on 29th May, 2007 at 1:27 pm  

    Imagine that Sky was to do the same here – what would be the public reaction?

  41. Refresh — on 29th May, 2007 at 1:29 pm  

    Have a look at this:

    “Nick Fraser, Storyville Series Editor for BBC – UK, on his Commissioner’s Comment over The Revolution Will Not Be Televised said:

    The result is a brilliant piece of journalism but it is also an astonishing portrait of the balance of forces in Venezuela. On one side stand the Versace wearing classes, rich from many decades of oil revenues, and on the other the poor in their barrios and those within the armed forces who support Chávez. The media, who ought to be merely reporting the conflict splitting the country down the middle, are in fact adjuncts of the coup-makers. Watch this film and you may truly for the first time in your life understand the term media bias.[4]”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Revolution_Will_Not_Be_Televised_(documentary)

  42. Refresh — on 29th May, 2007 at 1:32 pm  

    For some reason the whole link does not appear intact. You may need to use cut and paste and include ‘(documentary)’.

  43. Refresh — on 29th May, 2007 at 1:33 pm  

    And here is the definition of plutocrat:

    “The term plutocracy indicates a form of government where all the state’s decisions are centralized in an affluent wealthy class of citizenry and the degree of economic inequality is high while the level of social mobility is low. When these factors are met a government can be classified as such. This can apply to a multitude of government systems as these concepts transcend and often occur concomitantly with them. The word itself is derived from the ancient Greek root pluotos meaning wealth.”

  44. Jagdeep — on 29th May, 2007 at 1:34 pm  

    Refresh, either you did not comprehend what Reporters Without Borders say in that part of their response, or you are so far gone in your jackboot strongman idol worship that you have genuinely lost all principles and I worry for how deep the acceptance of authoritarianism resides in you. Either that, or your paranoia is out of control (maybe you’ll be trying to prove that Reporters Without Borders are some kind of nefarious neo-con front too)

    I’ll assume the first because I always look on the bright side, and explain it to you —- they are referring to the regime using that as a pretext for closing down the TV station. The pretext refers to the regime, not to the TV station. Comprendez?

  45. Jagdeep — on 29th May, 2007 at 1:36 pm  

    My optimism was misplaced.

  46. Refresh — on 29th May, 2007 at 1:41 pm  

    Yes Jagdeep I understood that perfectly. There is no pretext, its direct. No license for coup-plotters.

    Is that so unfair?

    I don’t intend to prove anything about Reporters Without Borders.

    I would like to see from you an argument for why they should have had their license renewed. And I prefer you don’t keep using personal jibes and a patronising tone in all the threads you post.

  47. Jagdeep — on 29th May, 2007 at 1:47 pm  

    Refresh, I support this statement by Reporters Without Borders:

    “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.”

    Freedom of expression, democracy and pluralism, articulated by the international watchdog on press freedom and campaigning global association of journalists.

    I’m afraid that I find your question about ‘what would you do’ to be quite scary, because it contains in it the seeds of authoritarianism and the iron fist. And you simply do not understand the ‘pretext’ line, and what it actually means, and I find that scary as well. Fear of the iron fist again.

  48. S — on 29th May, 2007 at 1:52 pm  

    Simple question.

    If launching a military coup is a bad thing– then why do you worship Chavez, a man who as an army officer launched his own coup in 1992?

  49. Refresh — on 29th May, 2007 at 1:54 pm  

    S – I don’t worship him.

  50. Refresh — on 29th May, 2007 at 1:56 pm  

    Jagdeep, your clever “I’m afraid that I find your question about ‘what would you do’ to be quite scary,” is meaningless.

    What would you do? A reasonable question.

  51. Jagdeep — on 29th May, 2007 at 1:59 pm  

    Refresh, it’s not meaningless. Your question is terrifying. In the light of Reporters Without Borders communique, it’s even more scary. That you don’t see why it’s scary is what makes it even more scary!

  52. Soso — on 29th May, 2007 at 2:00 pm  

    There was a story last year when Israel was trying to bomb the Hizballah affiliated television station. That wasn’t made into an issue of free speech but an issue of war and shutting down people who incited terrorism. From Chavez’s perspective these people are inviting American backed terrorism. Isn’t it the same? In both cases I’d probably have them shut down.

    That’s a very silly statement.

    This T.V. station has been on the air since 1953, though thick and thin.

    It was closed down by a tyrannical thug desperately trying to set himself up as El Presidente for life.

    The more power Chavez expropriates, the more he’ll become murderous and repressive.

    And you describe such a clear-cut case of nascent tryanny as “a tricky one” to decide?!

    How long will it be until Hugo, using an “imminant” coup as justification, creates death-squads to eliminate opponents?

    Boy-oh-boy! The things we’ll say, the causes we’ll support and the crack-pots we’ll embrace just to stick it to Bush.

  53. Rumbold — on 29th May, 2007 at 2:03 pm  

    Refresh:

    If indeed the television station had supported a coup, why were not those involved prosecuted, if, as you claim, they clearly came out in support of the coup? Why wait until now? Should not Chavez produce evidence, pass it to courts, or shut up?

    Kulvinder:

    “hes democratically elected, thats all id really ask.”

    Like Bush and Blair, two of your favourite leaders. So the Iraq war was okay then?

  54. Refresh — on 29th May, 2007 at 2:04 pm  

    And of course you can support that statement from Borders Without Borders, without worrying about the renewal of the license.

    If RCTV had been so great on the core issues of freedom of expression, democracy and pluralism – they would have never placed themselves in this position.

    You could then legitimately argue that RCTV have let down all those of us who do believe in democracy, freedom of expression and pluralism.

  55. Refresh — on 29th May, 2007 at 2:07 pm  

    Rumbold,

    Why wait until now – is actually a very fair question. It will be very interesting to know for sure.

  56. Jagdeep — on 29th May, 2007 at 2:09 pm  

    Refresh, you remind me more and more of the pigs in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, when they start to produce directives, and twist logic in order to justify their sinister actions, and declare things are one thing when they are not, and language becomes a disguise for dogma and falsity.

  57. Refresh — on 29th May, 2007 at 2:09 pm  

    As for renewing of licenses – I am not sure whether that requires it go to court. Criminal prosecutions against the plotters – yes definitely.

  58. Refresh — on 29th May, 2007 at 2:12 pm  

    Oh Jagdeep – you are so full of your own intellectual worth. What makes it even more difficult is that you are so glib and easy with your personal attacks.

    I’ve avoided so hard not to get dragged into personalising things – but that’s the only hooks you seem to have. And I am sorry about that, because there are times you make sense. The rest is tosh.

  59. Jagdeep — on 29th May, 2007 at 2:15 pm  

    Refresh, the way you try to rationalise authoritarian action is deeply disturbing. Your post # 54 has all the ingredients of a Soviet Directive on democracy and why media needs to be shut down to, errrr, save democracy. Orwell satirised that so well in Animal Farm.

  60. Refresh — on 29th May, 2007 at 2:20 pm  

    I can’t be bothered with you. Put up a logical argument, which deals with the plotters’ attempts at subverting democracy; and proposes a growing independent media in Venezuela – then and only then is it worth debating this with you.

    If you think RCTV did not attempt to subvert democracy – then be a brave and say so.

  61. Jagdeep — on 29th May, 2007 at 2:31 pm  

    Refresh, the principle of closing down a TV station because, as independent observers have pointed out, it refuses to be supine to a current regime, is deeply authoritarian and sinister. If you can’t understand why that’s bad then we’re singing from a different hymn sheet. Your attempts to cheerlead it are sad and frightening because they excuse a totalitarian impulse.

  62. Refresh — on 29th May, 2007 at 2:37 pm  

    I think Jagdeep, we could reach the same conclusions, but for the one omission. RCTV’s deep (and I mean deep) involvement in the coup.

    It wasn’t a simple, Chavez has got to go coverage. It was sitting round the same table planning the whole thing. That is what makes it unique.

    And that is why I’ve suggested you watch that documentary. And if you do end up watching it – I for one would be very surprised if you don’t come round.

  63. Sunny — on 29th May, 2007 at 2:38 pm  

    “Oh Refresh you look so fetching in your brownshirt and jackboots….”

    You can do better than that Jagdeep.

  64. Jagdeep — on 29th May, 2007 at 2:40 pm  

    Refresh, I stand where I stand and it’s an informed and principle stance. I think the Reporters Without Borders communique is the most credible independent witness to this issue.

  65. Jagdeep — on 29th May, 2007 at 2:42 pm  

    “You can do better than that Jagdeep”

    I already have, read the thread.

  66. Sunny — on 29th May, 2007 at 2:42 pm  

    Soso: “How long will it be until Hugo, using an “imminant” coup as justification, creates death-squads to eliminate opponents?”

    What’s your view on the pitstop between those two circumstances – extraordinary rendition? what’s your view on the intelligence services of democratic governments ‘taking out’ political leaders of other governments?

  67. Graeme — on 29th May, 2007 at 2:42 pm  

    Refresh, then why not prosecute the heads of RCTV instead of shutting down the entire station?

  68. Refresh — on 29th May, 2007 at 3:26 pm  

    Graeme – I wish he would. The government could have forced RCTV to sell the license to another channel. Which some would have argued amounted to the same thing.

    Jagdeep,

    “Refresh, I stand where I stand and it’s an informed and principle stance. I think the Reporters Without Borders communique is the most credible independent witness to this issue.”

    But you are not informed. Look at other sources.

    The facts are there. The question remains – what would you as democratic citizen of this country do if Sky had been behind a coup, to the extent of actually sitting and planning it?

    Its a very important question – fundamental to any principled stand on democracy.

  69. Refresh — on 29th May, 2007 at 3:30 pm  

    Jagdeep, please read this:

    http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/articles.php?artno=1949

    “”We (the coup organisers) had a deadly weapon – the media,” Vice-Admiral Victor Ramirez Perez, one of the coup plotters, pointed out on Venevision on April 11.

    RCTV and the other private stations were implicated in the planned events which led up to the coup d’etat. This was confirmed by pivotal extracts from a chat show revealing that a video statement from a military general had been shot in the house of a private TV journalist.

    The scenes recorded in The Revolution Will Not be Televised the morning after the coup show journalists and military plotters boasting explicitly of their involvement “to make Chavez stay in the country … then we activated the plan” to get the people on the street and, when things reached their peak, to “activate the army.”

    In this exchange, one conspirator says: “I must thank Venevision and RCTV.”

    Had a British television station acted similarly in attempting to foment revolt against a democratically elected government, its licence would almost certainly have been revoked. The individuals involved would probably have been charged with subversion.”

  70. Katy — on 29th May, 2007 at 3:45 pm  

    It’s Refresh who loves Hugo! I am sorry Leon.

    I can imagine their phone conversations now.

    HC: “Oh Refresh I have to go now.”

    R: “Oh no, Hugo, don’t go yet.”

    HC: “I must, I have to close down some television stations.”

    R: “All right, Hugo, I understand. But you’ll have to hang up first.”

    HC: “No, you hang up first.”

    R: “No, you.”

    HC: “No, you.”

    *giggling*

    R: “Okay, we’ll count to three and then we’ll BOTH hang up.”

    HC: “Okay. One…”

    R: “… two…”

    Both: “Three!”

    *pause*

    HC: “You didn’t hang up, did you, Refresh?”

    R: “Well, nor did you.”

    HC: “Okay, let’s do it again. One…”

    (et cetera)

  71. Refresh — on 29th May, 2007 at 3:50 pm  

    Hahaha, really funny Katy.

  72. Katy — on 29th May, 2007 at 3:51 pm  

    It was only a joke :-(

  73. Katy — on 29th May, 2007 at 3:56 pm  

    I am all about the gag, you see. I was going to do the same thing only with Leon but then he was all “I don’t do hero worship” which would have spoilt the effect a bit. But I could go back and replace your name with Leon’s if you like.

    Leon won’t mind… Leon?

    Leon?

  74. Refresh — on 29th May, 2007 at 3:57 pm  

    Thank goodness for that.

    Its probably closer to me talking to Jagdeep.

  75. Refresh — on 29th May, 2007 at 3:58 pm  

    I suppose I’m the same – I can’t abide hero worship. Hate celebrity and fandom. It just gets in the way of thinking for yourself.

  76. Ms_Xtreme — on 29th May, 2007 at 4:41 pm  

    On a side note, did you guys see how hot the Venezuelan candidate was for the Miss Universe competition? I so would. :)

  77. Leon — on 29th May, 2007 at 5:07 pm  

    I am all about the gag, you see. I was going to do the same thing only with Leon but then he was all “I don’t do hero worship” which would have spoilt the effect a bit. But I could go back and replace your name with Leon’s if you like.

    Leon won’t mind… Leon?

    Leon?

    Replace Hugo C with you and Refresh with me and you’ve got yourself a deal.

  78. Soso — on 29th May, 2007 at 5:56 pm  

    What’s your view on the pitstop between those two circumstances – extraordinary rendition? what’s your view on the intelligence services of democratic governments ‘taking out’ political leaders of other governments?

    The trouble with your scenario, Sunny, is that there is no equivalence between the shenanigans of Mr Chavez and a democratic state’s right to defend itself from rabid and unjustified aggression.

    Has this T.V. station been lobbing bombs and rockets at Chavez supporters, or something?

    In any case, where’s the scandal in planning a coup d’état?

    I mean, this IS Latin America, afterall.

    And if you wish to class that cavalier statement as racism, then perhaps you should ban Woody Allen’s “Bananas” as well.

    You’re too young for Allende, but trust me when I say the Yanks should have stood stood back and let the fool’s economic policies destroy his presidency. Chile was becomming an economic basket-case….as will Venezuela, oil notwithstanding.

    But then, why would white, western leftists even care about ordinary Venezuelans, you know.

    Shit! In America they’re presently teaming up with big business to import a new Latino slave-class via various “immigration” bills. This new “bronzed” slave-class will do the shit-jobs for which wealthy, white, american employers are too fucking cheap to pay a decent wage.

    This exploitation will be called *multiclturalism*.

    Con-Agra and Tyson foods will have tons of cheap labour and white leftists will have a captive constituency which they can then portray as victims…..with all the attendant grievance-industry opportunities and gov’t subsidies that victimhood provides.

  79. Constantlyawake — on 29th May, 2007 at 6:01 pm  

    The chavez documentary on youtube:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gRUrQCTtNI

  80. Arif — on 29th May, 2007 at 6:04 pm  

    I think this comes down to how bad the TV station is, how good the Chavez Government is and how important freedom for private media is.

    As I’m not sure how good or bad the station and Chavez is, I’m just relying on my prejudice that letting the media continue is better than stopping it. But then, I don’t know the context. Even the most anti-censorship human rights organisations thought the radio stations calling for genocide in Rwanda should have been forcibly shut down.

    In this case it sounds like there need to be principles for responsible broadcasting – like a journalists’ code of practice. And then rather than treating it as a joke, Chavez or any other politician should insist on upholding the code of practice consistently.

    Here it does not seem to be consistent, and there does not seem to be any sense he wants to create a principled new structure. If so, I’d say it is better to let it be than shut down stations selectively, even if the particular station is fighting a class war on the side of exploitating the poor.

    To be really generous, maybe by creating a pro-Chavez channel, Chavez can change the broadcasting context so that both sides see the value of a principled code and agree one consensually, as neither side will want the other to get away with nasty lies. If so, that’s the kind of practical politics which I admit is useful, even though I would stay out of it and carp on the sidelines sanctimoniously.

  81. Kulvinder — on 29th May, 2007 at 6:36 pm  

    Like Bush and Blair, two of your favourite leaders. So the Iraq war was okay then?

    You’re comparing what someone does to his own people rather than a group of people half-way across the world. I’m sure there are anarcho-libertarians in Venezuela who disagree with the notion of a Patriot Act or anti-terror legislation in the UK, but im not really sure how useful it is for them to be worried about it.

  82. Rumbold — on 29th May, 2007 at 7:21 pm  

    Kulvinder:

    “I’m sure there are anarcho-libertarians in Venezuela who disagree with the notion of a Patriot Act or anti-terror legislation in the UK, but im not really sure how useful it is for them to be worried about it.”

    So are you saying that we should not ever discuss what happens in other countries? I am not trying to put words in you mouth, but that is the only logical conclusion that I could reach from your post.

  83. Katy — on 29th May, 2007 at 7:30 pm  

    Leon, I am tempted… but I feel that some of the biting political satire would be lost if neither of the parties to the telephone call are a totalitarian dictator/ saviour of the people.

  84. Jagdeep — on 29th May, 2007 at 7:33 pm  

    Refresh, I am fully informed on the issue and my opinion stays the same.

  85. Kulvinder — on 29th May, 2007 at 7:42 pm  

    So are you saying that we should not ever discuss what happens in other countries? I am not trying to put words in you mouth, but that is the only logical conclusion that I could reach from your post.

    Its basically the line between cultural imperialism and genuine concern. If we’re talking about someone like Mugabe or Kim Jong-il its pretty clear they can’t genuinely ‘speak for their people’. This is kind of related to the discussion we had about Putin a few months ago. I don’t support the way Putin acts, and i don’t support the way Chavez shut down that tv station but as long as they don’t turn into out right dictators who refuse to leave office im reluctant to micro-critise what they do. Berlusconi didn’t do what Chavez did but he arguably had similar levels of dominance over the airways, and i didn’t start a campaign to oust him from power.

  86. Kulvinder — on 29th May, 2007 at 7:45 pm  

    Actually i realise i didn’t really answer your question. Obviously its fine to discuss – im discussing it.

  87. Rumbold — on 29th May, 2007 at 7:51 pm  

    Thanks Kulvinder. Chavez does have legitimacy, but it is the way that he is abusing his power that is worrying, with attempts to rule by decree. I do take your point though about the perils of micro-criticism, but I still think that in this case he needs to be criticised.

  88. Refresh — on 29th May, 2007 at 7:51 pm  

    “Refresh, I am fully informed on the issue and my opinion stays the same.”

    Just as long as you are.

  89. Jagdeep — on 29th May, 2007 at 7:53 pm  

    Yes I am Refresh, thanks, good posts by Kulvinder the Anarchist and Rumbold too.

  90. Refresh — on 29th May, 2007 at 8:34 pm  

    So how does that square with your proclaimed views on democracy? And of course the slurs you threw at me?

  91. The iLL Man — on 29th May, 2007 at 9:42 pm  

    unpleasant power hungry nerd stifles free speech shocker!!!!

  92. Jagdeep — on 29th May, 2007 at 10:31 pm  

    I didnt throw any slurs at you Refresh, and I don’t have ‘proclaimed’ views on democracy, any more than I have ‘proclaimed’ views on oxygen or water.

  93. Sunny — on 29th May, 2007 at 10:47 pm  

    heh, ill man. Ain’t that the truth.

    Soso, in his infinite wisdom says, The trouble with your scenario, Sunny, is that there is no equivalence between the shenanigans of Mr Chavez and a democratic state’s right to defend itself from rabid and unjustified aggression.

    I love this bullshit about moral equivalence. So at which point does a ‘democracy’ get criticised? Or is it the case that if you call yourself a democracy, even if you’re carrying out operations which are essentially undemocratic, you are above criticism?

    The rest of your post was typical tripe.

    But then, why would white, western leftists even care about ordinary Venezuelans, you know.

    I’m more concerned why enough of you white western lefties weren’t concerned about the millions dead in Congo.

  94. Katy — on 29th May, 2007 at 11:47 pm  

    Oh no. Refresh and Jagdeep, do not fight. If you carry on not getting on with each other I will be forced to do another telephone conversation, and neither of you want that.

  95. Saqib — on 30th May, 2007 at 12:24 am  

    Jagdeep,

    Nice to see you have carried on in the same vein since my last posting.

    I just want to apologise to you my friend for all the nonsense I wrote about you, I truly did get carried away, and made some degrading and below the belt comments about you – it was very childish. Sunny made a very good point on the BB thread about the unnecessary sarcasm destroying debate and turning, as he put it ‘newbies’ away.

    So from my end I stand corrected, and will in future refrain, at a point of principle from such juvenile behaviour. Let us all debate the issues in an honest, robust and passionate manner. Truly, this is the only way in which any debate can be won.

  96. soru — on 30th May, 2007 at 3:10 am  

    I’m more concerned why enough of you white western lefties weren’t concerned about the millions dead in Congo

    Actually, almost completely unreported, the UN mission in DRC seems pretty successful, to the point where there is only the odd massacre, not continuous multi-sided war.

  97. Muhamad — on 30th May, 2007 at 10:39 am  

    Last night (Tuesday), Channel4 news was saying that the channel suggested killing Chavez. Is that reason enough to shut it?

  98. Jagdeep — on 30th May, 2007 at 2:07 pm  

    Relax Saqib

  99. bananabrain — on 30th May, 2007 at 2:17 pm  

    anyone that is mates with mad ahmadinejad and ken livingstone is someone that scares the pants off me, particularly if he is held up by the che t-shirt brigade as a hero of the people. yes, i dare say he does some good. however, that does not mean he is 100% a good guy. this is the same position that would maintain that bush and blair are 100% bad because of some of the stuff they’ve done and both are equally obscurantist.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  100. Refresh — on 30th May, 2007 at 2:50 pm  

    Katy – what is one to do?

    Jagdeep

    The slurs are there for all to see. The least you can do is apologise. Or back them up.

  101. Jagdeep — on 30th May, 2007 at 3:19 pm  

    I think you should apologise to me Refresh. Apologise or else.

  102. Jagdeep — on 30th May, 2007 at 3:25 pm  

    That was satire by the way. I don’t ever ask for apologies, because I’m not so precious or soft, and I expect others to be the same — especially when there’s nothing to apologise for.

    Although I think I apologised to ZinZin once for calling him a rude name.

  103. Refresh — on 30th May, 2007 at 3:45 pm  

    What twittery!

  104. Jagdeep — on 30th May, 2007 at 4:01 pm  

    Apologise for that!

  105. Rumbold — on 1st June, 2007 at 3:04 pm  

    http://www.economist.com/daily/kallery/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9275081

    Cartoon in the new issue of the Economist’. For all you Chavistas.

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