Friday, 31 July 2009

Freedom of Expression Venezuela-styled

Yesterday Prosecutor General Luisa Ortega Díaz gave a speech to the National Assembly where she talks about the "Special Media Crime Bill" she is introducing. Journalists and others who, according to the socialist government of Chávez, "create unrest or dispair among the population" would face several years in prison. For the details, I ask you to read the blogs of Caracas Chronicles, Daniel Duquenal or The Devil's Excrement.

Among other things, Ortega is proposing prison terms for up to four years for those who would transmit news that would 'cause panic among the population' or 'create a false perception of facts' or 'create fear among the population' or 'promote hatred or hostility'. I completely agree hatred speeches should not be tolerated. Now, there is a huge difference between what the Chavista government and normal democracies à la Norway or Germany think are hatred speeches.

I wrote a post in Spanish about what we, Venezuelan citizens, can do now.

Here I just want to ask politicians and journalists from other countries who are involved with Venezuela to seriously do the following:

  1. find out from different sources what is the proportion of Venezuela's population that the Chavez-critical media can reach (not just in Caracas, Maracaibo or Valencia)
  2. find out what chances Venezuelans critical of Chávez have to debate in the state TV and radio stations
  3. find out how many hours a week the Venezuelan media is forced to broadcast Chávez speeches
  4. find out about attacks on Venezuelan journalists and last, but not least:
  5. follow all the hatred speeches Chávez is giving about how he will anihilate the opposition, wipe out the people who think different than he does and who consider Venezuela should be a country where pluralism reigns. Here just a couple of examples:
I still am amazed at how the European Union and the Carter Centre based part of their reports on media in Venezuela on what they could watch from their cable TV in their nice Caracas hotels in 2004 and 2006. They apparently did not know Venezuela had a democracy before Chávez, even if it was very dysfunctional, and people were used to a bigger freedom of speech, unlike in Soviet and later Lukashenko Belarus or Pinochet Chile. Media in Venezuela, specially TV and radio, suck big time, whether it is pro-Chávez or not (Globovisión and RCTV, with little reach, are the only TV stations that currently are critical of the regime). This won't make things better.

One thing the Prosecutor's speech showed me is that she is absolutely sure Chavismo will rule for decades in Venezuela. Otherwise, she would be afraid about getting prosecuted later on for what is about to happen in our land of Grace.

Below you see the Freedom of Expression world map from the Freedom House.


  1. Good roundup although you lost a bit of objectivity there with the title. Not that I disagree, but if the game's getting people to know and react to the bill we should just let them make their own conclusions by just reading the thing.
    I linked you up on FB. If the bill passes, I'll translate it to French and try'n get as many people in on this; you should do the same in German.
    That said, I really hope/expect this thing to fall in the 2nd discussion, I just can't believe they'd actually vote yes on this; of course, I'm always wrong so don't listen to me.

  2. Thanks, Vinz. I corrected the title and added a couple of love speeches by Hugo Chávez.

  3. OT: Neues aus dem Bundestag:

    Venezuela erhält keine Zollpräferenzen mehr

    Berlin: (hib/HLE/JOH) Dem südamerikanischen Land Venezuela werden ab Mitte August 2009 die Zollvergünstigungen aus dem "Allgemeinen Präferenzsystem Plus" (APS+) der Europäischen Union gestrichen. Wie die Bundesregierung in ihrer Antwort (16/13767) auf eine Kleine Anfrage der Fraktion Bündnis 90/Die Grünen (16/13567) mitteilt, hat Venezuela entgegen seiner vorherigen Zusage die UN-Konvention gegen Korruption nicht fristgerecht ratifiziert. Daher habe die EU-Kommission ihre Entscheidung vom 9. Dezember 2008, Venezuela in die Liste der APS+-begünstigten Länder aufzunehmen, am 11. Juni 2009 wieder zurückgenommen.

    Viele Gruesse Hans

  4. Danke, Hans. Ich werde das kurz auf Spanisch posten.


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