Wednesday, May 30, 2007


I don't post on Venezuela these days because nothing really new is happening to change my wary attitude toward Hugo Chávez. I like what he's done for democracy in South America and particularly in Venezuela, but I still get a little nervous about his moves toward what appears to be placing himself in permanent residency as president. And he seems to be getting more and more self-important and a little nutsy. If there's one thing we don't need another of in this world, it's a megalomaniacal nutjob running a country. We have more than enough.

Whatever It Is I'm Against It is my very favorite blog, and I generally agree with opinions and comments contained in the posts (and they're also very funny). Recently, there have been a couple of snarky posts about the failure to renew a TV license to an opposition station in Venezuela. On the surface, I might agree with the sentiment, but there are other circumstances that make this incident a not entirely clear-cut case of creeping dictatorship.

Following is an excerpt from an email I received today from a Venezuelan information organization. As background, I have personally seen pieces of a broadcast (now online here and here, about the film here) the day after the coup of 2002, from the TV station in question where the commenters were laughing and bragging about their role in staging the coup against the democratically elected government of Hugo Chávez. They freely admitted to participating in arranging the violent clash between anti- and pro-government crowds.

The first point made in the email is, in my mind, splitting hairs, or just changing spin. and I really don't know about the last one. But the other points are, I believe, well made and should be reported.

[Ed: the points made hereafter are not mine, but those from the email I received.]

1. There is no "Suppression of Media in Venezuela," nor was there a "closure" of RCTV. Instead its license to broadcast on the public airwaves was not renewed.

2. The non-renewal of the license prevents RCTV from broadcasting on open access channels, but the station will still be allowed to broadcast in Venezuela through the internet as well as cable and satellite TV. Neither does it affect the possibility of RCTV producing material for domestic or international TV programming. Moreover, RCTV may continue to broadcast using their two radio stations.

3. The non-renewal is due to RCTV's failure to abide by legal norms established by the Venezuelan Constitution and the Law of Social Responsibility for Radio and Television. The law forbids public airwaves licensees from inciting political violence and civil unrest. RCTV's violations involve conspiracy to bring down the elected government of Venezuela during the violent coup of April 2002 as well as the active promotion of an economic sabotage later that year, which cost the country more than US$10 billion in losses. RCTV also has a long list of sanctions imposed by previous governments for reasons ranging from pornography, violations of laws prohibiting publicity of smoking and alcohol drinking to transmissions of false information.

4. The non-renewal of RCTV's broadcasting license is not an example of censorship, nor is it a strike against the private media in Venezuela. RCTV was part of a majority; 79 out of 81 TV stations and all 118 newspapers in the country are privately owned. Most are vehemently opposed to the democratically elected government of President Chavez. RCTV is unique only in its editorial excesses and its history of violating legal norms.

5. RCTV's large share of the open-access airwaves was assigned, upon expiration, to a public broadcaster that is dedicated to presenting programming that features independent operators and producers.


  1. Very good clarifications on this subject. Still, Communists are either deluded or outright thieves.
    Chavez is truly a cockroach and an enemy of freedom, it will get worse...

    absurd thought -
    God of the Universe thinks
    don't argue with critics

    just steal their corporations
    put poor people out of work

  2. thanks for your comments. i hope you are wrong about chavez, but as i said, i feel very skeptical about him.

    i had early on had hopes of putin being a wise and good leader, and i've certainly been disappointed in that.

    however, i don't think it's communism that's the problem (and actually, venezuela is socialist rather than communist). it's possible to have a democratic communist or democratic socialist society, just as it is possible to have a democratic capitalist society. capitalism, communism, socialism - they're all economic systems. they can all be legitimate and democratic or they can all be corrupt. perhaps capitalism is the only system that can technically be fascist, but maybe socialism could fall there. at any rate, my point is that thieves come in every stripe and are able to take advantage of every economic system.

    the idea of taking corporations in a truly socialist or communist system would not be to put poor people out of work, but to put the poor people in ownership of the corporations and eliminate non-ownership of the capital as a source of poverty. what actually happens, however, is a matter of the laws enacted and how they are enforced, and who is running the show.

    what i'm saying is, the IDEAS of the various economic systems are not bad, but the PRACTICE of them is often (always?) corrupted. (having said that, i'm not sure that even in theory capitalism can be good, but i'd be willing to give it the benefit of the doubt if we could find moral people to run the show.)

    again, thanks for reading and thanks for your comments.

  3. Thank you, but communism doesn't work, it never has and it never will. It goes against human nature; people have different appetites, motivations, dreams and abilities.

    As the saying goes: "Communism has only killed 100 million people, let's give it another chance!"

    Venezuela is moving very quickly towards full communism. Western oil industry investment will simply dry up.

    All this nationalization will put many people out of work. Central planning does not work. Market forces of supply and demand do.

    When laws of property rights are non-existent or un-enforced, society will deteriorate, or at best stagnate.

    Communes can work, but not communism, which must be forced. Whether or not it is called fascism is not the point, it still by design must be a totalitarian state.

    Extreme socialism will kill a country eventually too, if it is allowed to spiral out of control for too long.

    Already, the farms that Chavez allowed to be stolen are being run into the ground by the 'worker owners', just like in Zimbabwe.

    The health care system in Cuba is a very sick joke, and Canada's is much worse than it was before 'national health care' was implemented.
    In China, a billion people live in abject poverty, and they also have to pay huge fees just to go to public high school.

    In North Korea there are huge food shortages, practically no electricity, and a massive homeless problem, with tons of people sleeping on the sidewalks without shoes on or even a blanket or a piece of cardboard to lie on; I've seen videos secretly filmed and smuggled out of the country.

    Communism tries to appeal to greed and class envy, and the desire to get stuff for free.

    Capitalism, with clear and strong property rights, rights to unionize and strong laws against corruption and fraud, is the only way to go.

    Obviously, the capitalist countries have many problems and injustices, but they pale in comparison to the miseries inherent in any communist country that has ever existed.

    property rights -
    people's rights to own it
    and control it

    not the state's to steal it
    and give to someone else

    absurd thought -
    God of the Universe thinks
    communism is GREAT

    excellent way to destroy
    countries for generations

  4. As always an excellent posting.The
    way you write is awesome.Thanks. Adding more information will be more useful.


  5. @bathmate: i was at fault in that posting for making it seem that i wrote the 5 points. in fact, they were from the email i received, so i cannot take credit for them. i have since modified the post to reflect that.

    thank you very much, however, for reading and commenting. i appreciate the comments, and the compliments are not unwelcome.

    best wishes,


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