defend freedom of speech in Venezuela

Darrel Furlotte furlottebois at
Mon Jul 14 10:24:03 MDT 2003

[ converted from html ]

----- Original Message ----- 
From: Caracas Encuentro 
To: lasolidarity at 
Sent: Sunday, July 13, 2003 3:15 PM

Look at who's really violating freedom of speech in Venezuela!

July 13, 2003



A television station has just been shut down in Caracas.  Not one of
Venezuela's five commercial stations that are virulently opposed to
President Chavez's reforms.  The media outlet that has been gagged is
Catia Tve, one of the country's most important community television
stations.  And it's not President Chavez that's preventing it from
broadcasting.  It's one of his fiercest opponents, the ex-journalist and
mayor of greater Caracas Alfredo Peña.


Peña's confiscation of Catia Tve's transmitter and studio has deprived
the poor communities of Western Caracas of their right to receive
independent information.  It is a measure that is eerily reminiscent of
what took place during the April 2002 coup d'Etat when a group of
reactionary military officers briefly kidnapped democratically-elected
President Hugo Chavez.


During the April coup community media outlets were invaded and some
community journalists were arrested and tortured in the hope that the
commercial TV channels, who were decisive players in the coup, could
fully monopolize the airwaves.  This repression, however, didn't prevent
the community media journalists from continuing, at the risk of their
lives, to inform their communities and the outside world about what was
really happening in Venezuela.


Today, angry citizens have taken to the streets in Caracas to demand the
reopening of Catia Tve, a community television station legalized in 2002
thanks to a new set of regulations that are internationally recognized
as a major democratic advance in terms of freedom of speech.  These
regulations grant communities radio and television frequencies that are
renewable every five years and allows them to produce programs that are
free of the influence of any economic or political power.


Recently, the Canadian social justice activist Naomi Klein expressed her
dismay at seeing that certain Human Rights NGOs like Reporters Without
Borders spend their time blaming the Chavez government for being a
threat to freedom of speech while failing to report that the elite-owned
commercial media wage campaigns of intimidation and denigration aimed at
alternative and community media.  Campaigns that have coincided with
physical attacks and media outlet closures, such as the one Catia Tve
has just undergone.


Signed : the National Network of Venezuelan Community Media (RNMCV),
ATTAC-Venezuela, the National Association of Free, Alternative and
Community Media (ANMCLA).




Write to demand that the ex-journalist and current mayor of greater
Caracas Alfredo Peña stop preventing Catia Tve from broadcasting and
allow this community media outlet to continue to pursue its job of
informing the community.  Write to him at the following e-mail address :

it at

And send a copy to Reporters Without Borders:  ameriques at

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