[Marxism] Disinformation: VENEZUELA/New law a threat to journalists' rights
Jose G. Perez
elgusanorojo at bellsouth.net
Thu Aug 5 15:41:45 MDT 2004
The socalled "journalists" of journalists without borders have
launched a new disinformation campaign to make it seem like the
Bolivarian Revolution is attacking freedom of the press in Venezuela.
This "reporters" group is an outfit that, pimping off the "sans
frontiers" last name of a humanitarian medical aid group, has made its
specialty attacking Cuba for lack of "freedom of the press."
You would think *honest* journalists in the "West" would be very
busy combating the lies the bourgeois press spouts daily in the
capitalist countries, and most of all in the United States.
You'd think they would have little time left over for coming up
with highly debatable assertions like that Cuba's imprisonment of
socalled "dissidents" for collaborating with and receiving money and
other material aid from the U.S. Government constitutes an attack on
democracy. In journalism, it is a cliche to say there are two sides to
every story. Apparently, the idea that the Cuban government is entitled
to take measures in defense of Cuba's democratic right to
self-determination given the unceasing 45-year war of the United States
against the revolution isn't a side these "journalists without borders"
have had a chance to investigate.
And in the "West," the major imperialist countries, there really
is a need for a movement to defend the rights of journalists, and most
of all the right to tell the truth. Corporate control has turned the
right to free speech into the right to lie and was instrumental, for
example, in helping Bush to drag the country into a war in which nearly
1,000 Americans and unknown tens of thousands of Iraqis have died.
The whole trick in this new anti-Venezuela campaign is
presenting this as a "new law," as if it were something being done by
the Bolivarian Revolution. Nothing could be further from the truth.
If you read the fine print (and most people won't, and many of
those who do won't know enough of the context and history to figure it
out), you'll see that the law being objected to is a decade-old statute
enacted five years BEFORE President Hugo Chávez took office. He did so
in 1999 after breaking the back of the two-party system with his
stunning electoral victory.
For reasons entirely unexplained in the article, the Venezuelan
Supreme Court has now decided to resurrect this long-forgotten progeny
of the previous American client regime in Venezuela. It is pure
speculation on my part, of course, but I would not be surprised to
discover that the opposition used its influence on the court to
green-light this edict now; with the opposition's political strategists
in Langley figuring that responsibility for this law can be saddled on
Chávez two weeks before the referendum, as part of Chavez's campaign to
Hence the essential central lie in this story, one tiny word,
but the very first and most prominent one in the headline: "New." As in
"New law," in other words, there he goes, that undemocratic SOB Chávez.
The trajectory of the Bolivarian Revolution on freedom of the
press has been one of respecting the right of the capitalist media to
discredit itself, while empowering others to set up alternative media,
including low-power neighborhood radio stations.
I am not a supporter of the "democratic right" of corporate
media to dominate the airwaves and print outlets in Venezuela; I think
working people are the majority of that society, and from the standpoint
of purely formal democracy, there would need to be several TV channels
defending the interests of the people and only one, if that, in control
of the oligarchy.
But be that as it may, the Bolivarian Revolution has taken
absolutely NO steps to limit, restrict or censor the capitalist media in
Venezuela, even after the proven participation of the owners of various
media outlets in a seditious conspiracy to overthrow the government by
force and violence in connivance with a foreign power.
Thus enemies of popular and revolutionary movements like these
"journalists without borders" have to rely on manipulations like calling
legislation enacted a decade ago under the previous pro-American regime
They should change their name from "reporters without borders"
to "CIA propagandists without shame."
* * *
Date: Mon, 2 Aug 2004 12:05:45 +0200
To: am-list at reporters-sans-frontieres.org
From: am-list at reporters-sans-frontieres.org
Subject: [Am-list] VENEZUELA/ New law a threat to journalists' rights
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New law a threat to journalists' rights
Reporters Without Borders has protested against a new law passed by
Venezuela's supreme court which it says contains measures that pose a
threat to press freedom.
The new law, regulating the work of a journalist, ratified on 27 July
2004, provides for compulsory registration with the national journalism
association, punishing illegal journalistic activity with prison
Article 2 says that "to work as a journalist it is necessary to have a
degree in journalism, or social communication or equivalent from a
Venezuelan university ( ), to be registered at the Venezuelan National
Association of Journalists (CNP) and the Journalists Welfare Institute
Paragraph 2 of Article 3 distinguishes between written press and
broadcast journalism. "Photographers can work even if they are not
members of the national association of journalists." Article 7 says
"managers and foreign correspondents of international press agencies,
foreign publications and foreign radio and TV can be members of the
National Association of Journalists".
Article 39 lays down a prison term of three to six months to anyone
working illegally as a journalist.
The law regulating a journalists' worked was promulgated on 22 December
1994. Venezuela's Supreme Court on 27 July 2004 rejected an appeal
against several articles from the Venezuelan press proprietors'
The Supreme Court ruled that the law on the exercise of journalistic
work was compatible with Article 82 of the 1961 Constitution and with
Article 105 of the 1999 Constitution, that clarifies the fact that the
law determines working conditions and the organisation of certain
The BPV, by contrast, contends that a journalists' work is not limited
to applying basic technical competence, but is linked primarily to
freedom of expression and cannot be dependent on compulsory registration
in an official association.
The BPV said in particular that "the law infringes Article 13 of the
American Convention on Human Rights (San José pact) signed by Venezuela
in 1977. The proprietors' organisation also pointed out that the
"inter-American Human Rights Court put out consultative opinion number 5
on 13 November 1985 that compulsory registration with an official body
as a requirement of access to free expression is incompatible with
Article 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights."
In a text adopted in January 2000, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom
of Opinion and Expression clearly established that, imprisonment as
punishment for the peaceful expression of an opinion constitutes a
serious violation of human rights."
Despacho Américas / Americas desk
Reporters sans frontières
5, rue Geoffroy-Marie
75009 Paris - France
tél. : +33 (0) 1 44 83 84 68
fax : +33 (0) 1 45 23 11 51
e-mail : ameriques at rsf.org
/ americas at rsf.org
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