Hands off Venezuela

Hands off Venezuela

We recognise that the non-renewal of the broadcasting licence for RCTV is a legitimate and democratic decision of the Venezuelan government. The reason for this action is not that RCTV is against the government of Hugo Chavez, but rather that this TV channel participated directly in the organisation of the military coup against the democratically elected government. We welcome the decision to set up a new public access TV station “TVes”. The problem of the media in Venezuela is not that the government is curtailing freedom of expression but rather the need to democratise access to the media, which is dominated by a handful of monopoly groups that use their position to sabotage the expressed will of the majority of the Venezuelan people.

That’s a key point. Chavez has won several elections, and they were internationally monitored and declared fair. RCTV did participate directly in a coup attempt against the state, and when the time came to renew their license, the government said no. Any government on the planet would have done the same.


  1. Daniel Rivera-Franqui

    “Any government on the planet would have done the same.”

    Homeland Security would’ve called them anti-American and seized their offices the very next day after the failed coup.

  2. What exactly is your understanding of how RCTV “participated in the 2002 coup”?

  3. The Case of RCTV

    “Most importantly, in 2002, RCTV ran ads encouraging the public to take to the streets and overthrow the democratically elected president. Once Chavez was forcefully removed from office, the station continued to collude with the coup government by conducting a news blackout. In fact, one of the managing producers of Venezuela’s highest-rated newscast, the RCTV program El Observador, testified that he was instructed by RCTV’s owner, Marcel Granier, on the day of the coup to show “No information on Chávez, his followers, his ministers, and all others that could in any way be related to him.”

  4. Bob, a brief summary like that is hardly convincing, particularly when it’s written very carefully to permit the reader to draw conclusions that may well not be justified by the facts…if you could get to the facts behind the rhetoric.

    Example: “RCTV ran ads encouraging the public to take to the streets and overthrow the democratically elected president. Once Chavez was forcefully removed from office, the station continued to collude..” cONTINUED TO COLLUDE? The running of an advertisement is hardly evidence of a conspiracy; this flunks Logic 2A. Ye tthat’s the suggestion.

    Facts mean: what ads did the RCTV actually run? Has not ANSWER encouraged the public to take to the streets? Do you yourself not suggest that only mass demonstrations will force the federal government to stop the war in Iraq? Is that an “overthrow of the democratically elected government”? Well, I suppose on some level it is, but we’d have to see precisely what you were urging, no? Same standard applies here.

    Another reason to be suspicious of this story is that it flies in the face of what the Venezuelan government and its supporters now say, which is that there are plenty of air waves available for every shade of political opinion. (Odd how they all support the government, though, isn’t it? I thought such things were statistically improbable….) But wait….RCTV “conducting a news blackout”. Well, if there are all these alternative sources, how does a single station conduct a news blackout that has any effect?

    I could point you to hundreds of other sources on the Internet that say the opposite. The weakness with all of them….and, indeed, the weakness with the Internet as a news distribution mechanism….is that numbers don’t make something right. Facts can be verified. What you cited is somebody’s spin, for the reasons discussed above.

    Now, that being said, I’m in favor of the US staying out of Venezuela. God knows we’ve done enough damage to our southern neighbors over the years without repeating it. For the record, I said the same thing about Vietnam, and I’m sick and tired of our ignorant politicians getting suckered into intervening in other people’s conflicts (a la Chalabi in Iraq) because Americans were too lazy to learn about the language, history, and culture of some other country they happened to intersect with.

    Even though Chávez has supreme and unilateral power in Venezuela now, the economics of that beleaguered country still confine the damage he can do, except, alas, to his own citizens. Despite his narcissism, he doesn’t have close to the income necessary to invest in refineries that can handle his variety of crude oil, almost all of which reside in the southern US. SO he’s not going to cut off oil as a weapon because he can’t survive without the oil revenues that come in. He’s got a temporary monopoly, but monopolies get broken over the long term, and nothing I read suggest that, as compared to Castro, say, he’s doing any investment that will yield long-term dividends for his regime or for the people of Venezuela. But, hey, it’s not really my concern. Once you buy the intervention route, there’s nothing that separates you from Woodrow Wilson….or his modern disciple, George W. Bush, both of whom are equally foolish and whose policies produce equally loathesome results.

    But just because I favor staying out of Venezuela doesn’t mean that I have to consider Chávez to be the ideal human being, which so many on the left appear to do. What is it about Americans that they have to love somebody before they will support him? It’s a sign of hideous political immaturity, akin to Ronald Reagan’s belifs about the Afghanis whom we foolishly armed through Pakistani intelligence without thinking about the blowback. How suprising to have people on the left looking like clones of Ronald Reagan, of all people!

  5. In the case of Saddam Hussein, our government under presidents of both wings of the party supported him without liking him at all! That stopped with Dubya, of course, who decided that since we didn’t like him, he had to go– with no thought to the idea that the alternative might be worse for both Iraq and us.

    OTOH, there I go again presuming Dubya has the best interests of our nation at heart, when I have already argued strenuously to the contrary…

  6. Joe, why is it that your political comments, although couched in liberal terms, always end with a stirring call to inaction, ridiculing any attempts at social activism, and thus always support the status quo and reactionary forces against any possibility of change?

    To say that ANSWER calling for street demos is analogous to a TV station openly backing a right wing coup attempt seems a deliberate slime at ANSWER as well as a distortion of the facts.

  7. Why do I call for inaction? I don’t think I do. I’m simply not as enamored of the romance of radical change as you are.

    Why? Because I don’t think the results historically of dramatic change, led by an elite convinced of their own righteousness (sound familiar? it doesn’t cover only Bush!) have much to commend themselves. With the exception of the American revolution, most revolutions have led to violence and repression sooner rather than later. Even the English revolution, mild by the standards of the Russian, Chinese, French, and German revolutionss (the German revolution of 1933, where the Legislature voted itself out of existence and turned over supreme power to the Chencellor), still ended up with the English running around the British isles for the next 100 years expelling any group that challenged the status quo, the Vicar of Bray notwithstanding.

    The Russians had great theories for the modern man in 1917. Mao, after a promising start in the 1940’s, decided he could undo 4,000 years of Chinese culture. The French had a political theory, the Germans had a racial theory, and they all ended up with a lot of people dead and no particular advance of the civilization. The revolution soon eats its young.

    So, no, I’m not enamored of radical change because as far as I can tell, it almost always leads to repression. Sorry, I don’t think that’s the direction we ought to be going in. And yes, I expect to be caught square in the middle, between the romantics of the left and the romantics of the right, all of whom believe they are the divine vanguard to save humanity. Me, I’d rather deal in facts, and try to nudge the society along as best we can toward more incremental change at the grass roots level. Takes longer, but lasts longer, too.

    Now, speaking of facts, where are yours in support of the charges against RCTV? I gather we’re in agreement that it doesn’t bother you if there’s a military coup, provided that you agree with the person who’se leading it? If you don’t want to give me the fact behind your conclusions that RCTV was particpating in the coup if not leading it, how about this: how serious could the threat of RCTV have possibly been if Chavez waited 5 years to shut it down?

  8. I’m sure glad Ghandi, Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela didn’t believe in gradualism, else they’d never have accomplished anything.

    Why did Chavez wait five years to shut RCTV? You put that as an accusation, yet the obvious answer is, that’s when the license expired. So, he did it legally and without force. Sorry to upset your theories about him being a thug.

    As the articles I’ve linked to here explain that and more, it’s apparent you’ve not read them. I suggest you do so. They explain what happened quite clearly and why.

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