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Radio Caracas TV loses its license
Venezuela took an important step towards democratizing its media on May 28 when a billion dollar media corporation lost its television broadcast license to those who almost never have a voice, in President Hugo Chávezs words.
In response Radio Caracas Television (RCTV) and its multi-millionaire owner, Marcel Granier, claimed that independent media are being closed down, that Chávez was a dictator intent on restricting freedom of expression and democratic rights.
Reporters without Borders declared that RCTV losing its license was a serious attack on editorial pluralism, while editorials in U.S. newspapers predictably misrepresented the controversy, claiming Chávez was retaliating against critics in the opposition media who disagree with the Bolívarian revolution.
The reality is rather different. Reporters without Borders doesnt mentionperhaps understandably, given its financing by the U.S. State Departments National Endowment for Democracythat RCTV was an active participant in the violent coup that deposed President Chávez for almost 48 hours in 2002.
On the day of the coup, RCTV abandoned all pretense of impartial reporting, calling opposition supporters to demonstrate at the Miraflores Presidential Palace in Caracas while the on screen message Ni un paso atras (Not one step back) flashed.
It deliberately showed film from one angle to falsely claim that Chávez supporters were firing on opposition demonstrators, when another camera angle would have shown that Chávez supporters were defending themselves from sniper attacksno opposition demonstrators were in sight. The repeated broadcasting of this film was then used as justification for military officers to declare their disobedience to the president and these declarations were faithfully broadcast to attempt to legitimize a military takeover.
U.S. editorials failed to mention all this and also failed to comment on the Venezuelan medias support for the subsequent fascist junta that took control in Caracas and which proceeded to dismiss the entire Supreme Court and the Congress, suspend the constitution, arrest the democratically-elected president, and then send armed police into the streets to suppress resistance.
A junta member, Admiral Victor Ramírez Pérez, thanked journalists on live TV the day after the coup, saying that the organizers had a weaponthe medialet me congratulate you. The junta chose businessperson Pedro Carmona to be president and summoned media executives to Miraflores to ensure that opposition to the coup was not reported.
RCTVs boss, Granier, denied he ever met Carmona during the coup, despite film footage showing his presence at Miraflores.
As Venezuelans took to the streets in the thousands to demand the return of President Chávez, fighting the police and demonstrating at Miraflores against the coup, RCTV, contrary to the constant coverage it awarded the opposition demonstration, intentionally blacked out this breaking news. As RCTV production manager at the time, Andrés Izarra, later related, Granier ordered journalists not to broadcast information on Chávez, his supporters, or anyone connected to him.
The Chávez demonstrators coming from the poor shanty towns up in the mountains above Caracas encouraged soldiers loyal to the president to take back Miraflores and arrest the junta. Helicopters were sent to the Caribbean island where the president had been kept prisoner and, barely 48 hours after the right-wing attempt to take Venezuela back to the military dictatorship of the 1950s, the coup failed and Chávez returned to an ecstatic welcome.
However, none of the resistance to the coup, the juntas arrest, or Chavezs return could be seen on television. During probably the most dramatic day in Venezuelas recent history, RCTV was showing Looney Tunes cartoons.
Other opposition media followed its lead. No rightist newspapers were printed or distributed the following day, but the leftist Últimas Noticias in Caracas told Venezuelans what had happened and the Chávista Panorama newspaper published 4 editions in 20 hours as its journalists reported on the coups stunning defeat.
No journalists or media executives were jailed or prosecuted after the coup and once the opposition-dominated Supreme Court declared that, in their opinion, no coup had taken place, Pedro Carmona and others were released.
The right once again went on the offensive. Graniers RCTV abandoned any pretence at professional journalism, concerning itself with the political impact of its news broadcasts, rather than adhering to anything that resembled journalistic ethics. In all, 5 private television stations, reaching 90 percent of Venezuelan viewers, and 9 of the 10 national newspapers, supported the opposition.
Despite U.S. newspaper editorialists claiming that the state is restricting criticism of President Chávez, it is clear to anyone who reads these newspapers or watches Venezuela TV that the vast majority are implacably hostile to the revolution and critical of President Chavez. There is no censorship, as there is in U.S. client states such as Saudi Arabia and journalists are not intimidated or assassinated as in México and Colombia.
President Bushs recent claim that Venezuela has repressive laws that severely restrict the liberty of the press, hardly stands up to scrutiny, especially when, as Venezuelan Vice-President Jorge Rodríquez pointed out, The only television channel closed down for political reasons during this Bolívarian administration was the pro-Chávez Channel 8 in 2002. It was taken off the air on the first night of the coup by Pedro Carmonas fascist junta.
The disproportionate criticism has more to do with Chávezs challenge to the unaccountable elite that clearly limits editorial pluralism by using its ownership and control of the media to present its privileged interests as those of all Venezuelans. Accustomed to operating their lucrative commercial television channels for decades without democratic oversight, this elite has come to believe this privileged position is their right.
Chávez has pointed out that broadcasting licenses are not granted in perpetuity. In fact, Venezuelan law and the Bolívarian Constitution confer certain responsibilities, such as ensuring the public receives true and accurate information, on the media corporations that are granted these concessions, as does the respective media laws in the United States and most other countries.
RCTVs concession to broadcast expired May 28. The government decided not to renew them, citing, among other crimes such as not paying taxes, the stations failure to provide true and accurate information during the 2002 coup, when its executives intentionally refused to report breaking news and critical information to the public and imposed its cartoon blackout. This decision is an irreversible fact, William Lara, Venezuelas Communications and Information Minister, declared. The Constitutional, legal, and regulatory basis for the decision is solidly incontrovertible. For the first time in Venezuela, the privileged media elite had come up against a government that could not be bought, bribed, or intimidated.
A new television service, Televisora Venezolana Social (Venezuelan Social TV or TEVES), will take over, Chávez has announced. It will be run by an independent foundation and have independent, community, and alternative programming.
Although the new TEVES station will initially receive government financing, which the British state financed BBC rather ironically claimed might affect its independence, it will not be required to broadcast government programs, such as Chávezs ¡Alo, Presidente!, and it will be able to take commercial advertising to eventually allow it to be self financing.
Corporate media in almost all countries is often unresponsive, unaccountable, and inaccessible, permitting virtually no popular participation in production and programming. Venezuelas attempt to start to democratize the broadcast media has been met with predictable criticism from that corporate media who continue to insist that a tiny, wealthy eliteand not a democratic government elected with a massive popular voteshould have the right to control what is seen and heard on the airwaves.
As for Granier and RCTV, some in the opposition believe it is no loss to have the station lose its license. RCTV wasnt even good at propaganda, wrote one anti-Chávez columnist, citing Chávezs return after the coup and his landslide election win in 2006. But all is not lost for the anti-Chávez opposition. RCTV can still broadcast on cable and satellite and should there be news it doesnt like, it will be free to black it out with as many Looney Tunes cartoons as it likes.
Paul Haste is a British trade unionist studying in Colombia. He has worked for the Transport and General Workers Union in London, where he ran the Latin American Workers Association that unionized immigrant workers.
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: email@example.com; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; email@example.com; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; email@example.com; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; email@example.com http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; email@example.com; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; email@example.com; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: email@example.com; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; email@example.com; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; firstname.lastname@example.org.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; email@example.com; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; email@example.com; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.