. After the saga of RCTV (Radio Caracas Television), the long-standing TV channel
which switched to satellite due to the lack of license renewal from Hugo Chavez'
government, the same story has now taken place with another channel, Globovision.
Accused by Chavez of fuelling an anti-government campaign and the birth of '21st
century socialism' through broadcasting, Globovision risks shutdown or at the
very least being moved to satellite. The same occurred with the Bolivian President,
who during a meeting a few weeks ago gave the TV station a ‘warning’. After having
condemned the news-only network, considered 'an enemy of the nation’, Chavez has
increased the pressure. "My advice is to pay attention to what you aim to achieve",
declared the Venezuelan leader in front of a delirious crowd. "Ladies and Gentlemen
of Globovision, if you wish you can continue as you have been, driving the population
towards disobedience and the assassination of the President. I advise you to simmer
down and calm down, otherwise Globovision will go the same way as RCTV”. According
to Chavez, another of Globovision's crimes is the airing of the protest demonstrations
of people against the removal of the 'free-to-air' RCTV channels, showing consequent
incidents between demonstrators and the police.
. From the Head Office of Globovision, president Alberto Federico Ravel explained
to PeaceReporter over the phone, "we have been threatened by the government. Fortunately,
up until now the threats have not been followed through. Undeniably however, we
are now under tighter control than before, such as with tax controls". Ravel does
not say so explicitly, but the situation for all journalists and IT workers who
consider themselves dissident or against the government, is rather dangerous.
"Everyone is asking themselves if freedom of speech exists in Venezuela. Well,
we could answer that you can
speak and say what you think in this country. However the risk is high for journalists,
and some of the more audacious ones are confined to leaving the house wearing
bulletproof vests. All in all it has been very difficult to continue reporting".
Yet what are the main reasons for Globovision being under 'strict observation'?
Even on this, the private television channel’s president was very clear: "As we
have seen, we can say that the problem has not only been set upon Globovision,
but upon all the information channels seen as being 'in opposition'. In this country
we are under an authoritarian government which does not allow people to think
'differently'. And who would have thought that those who think 'differently' would
be considered members of the CIA or even worse a traitor? Meanwhile what do the
government’s people say? When consulted on the Globovision and RCTV issue, Ruben
Dario Molina, member of the Ministry of Labour Directorate-General Secretariat,
replied, "we are not authorised to release anything. Only the Chancellor can speak
and release this kind of statement".
. It's obvious that good news has not yet come from the private TV channel, on
the contrary, threats and pressure from the government (according to the information
declared) seem to be the order of the day. A public statement from the local Venezuelan
press this weekend announced, "there is a policy of persecution and intimidation
on a national level, and its only objective is to repress freedom of expression".
The letter published was attempting to respond to the confirmation of Venezuelan
Vice President Jorge Rodriguez, who at the end of June stated that in Venezuela:
"there has never been a government which respects freedom of expression more than
the government of Chavez". It also seems that these words have been turned into
facts, and furthermore according to Globovision's management, verbal threats would
have led to aggression suffered by the channel’s journalists. "We have taken a
document to lawyers regarding 59 physical assaults where damages were suffered
by reporters working for Globovision. Moreover, 174 cases of verbal threats have
come straight from President Chavez and other government officials. Up until now
however, the Public Ministry had not investigated anyone."
It’s a never-ending story
, just as Venezuelan soap operas on the television seem to be never-ending. As
mentioned previously everything started with RCTV, which during a failed coup
against Chavez in 2002 showed that it was openly in favour, and from that moment
on things between Chavez and the oldest and most followed TV management in the
country continually moved back and forth. Yet Chavez had promised that RCTV should
not have their broadcasting license renewed because they were working against
national interests. And that’s just how it was. Just over a month has passed,
and the TV channel now broadcasts on satellite. However, the international community
has not just sat back and watched, and what's more their disillusionment at the
situation has been obvious. Yet it has helped little. Like it or not, everything
which has been done by Chavez has been possible thanks to the constitutional laws