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VENEZUELA - Don’t Cry for RCTV

Charles Hardy, The Narcosphere

Wednesday 30 May 2007, posted by John Malone

Sunday May 27th, 2007 - The Narcosphere - As I write this, I am looking at a Venezuelan newspaper, El Diario, from February 10, 1992. The editorial that would have occupied half of page 2 is missing. Page 4 is completely blank. The contents were censored by the government of the then president Carlos Andres Perez.

The newspaper is just one of many horrible memories of the pre-Hugo Chavez days in Venezuela’s “exceptional” democracy.

U.S. newspapers seem to overlook what Venezuela used to be like as they today discuss the actions of the current government. I have lived in Venezuela for most of the past 22 years and have never experienced such freedom as that which the Venezuelan population enjoys today under Hugo Chavez. That would include freedom of information. Never, in the past 22 years, has the mass media experienced the freedom it has had during the presidency of Chavez. One can freely buy anti-Chavez newspapers on streets and the airwaves and television channels are amply filled with anti-Chavez commentators.

However, today, May 27, the Venezuelan government will not renew the license of RCTV, a television station that has been on the air for over 50 years. The owner, Marciel Granier, has been running around the world crying because he is about to loose his license. Even the millionaires in the U.S. Senate feel he should get to keep the license. Interestingly, Granier was president of the censored El Diario in 1992. He didn’t complain then. I bought his newspaper. He got his money.

What the news reports in the U.S. don’t tell us, and what the U.S. Senate doesn’t seem to understand, is that hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans will be celebrating tonight at midnight because RCTV’s license will have expired. They’ve been meeting on city squares and corners throughout Venezuela discussing who owns the air and what kind of programming they would like on their television sets. They are asking whether it is truly fair that if you are a millionaire, you can buy the air space of the people for the next 20 years. Independent producers will now have a chance to get their programs shown, without having to obtain the approval of Granier who has been something of a media dictator in Venezuela.

Granier is no saint and his channel hasn’t been an example of the heavenly kingdom on earth either. RCTV was taken off the air five times by Venezuelan administrations before Chavez ever entered the presidential palace. In 1981, for example, it was taken off the air for 24 hours because of airing pornographic scenes.

In 2002, RCTV actively encouraged Venezuelans to march toward the presidential palace in order to participate in a coup that was taking place to overthrow the democratically elected president. Marciel Granier gave clear instructions to the managing producer of Venezuela’s most watched news program on the day of the coup that he should not give any information about President Chavez. Actions like this would not be tolerated by the FCC in the U.S.

However, when Chavez returned to power a few days later, no reprisals were taken against the channel.

No, May 27 is not a sad day for freedom of expression in Venezuela, so don’t weep for Mr. Granier when RCTV’s license is not renewed. He can still broadcast through cable or satellite and he can still sell his programming to other stations. Instead, rejoice with all the independent producers and thousands of Venezuelan who will have access to the space one wealthy man controlled for years. May 28 will be a day of celebration in Venezuela. It should be a day for celebrating freedom throughout the world.


You can order Charles Hardy’s book, Cowboy in Caracas, A North American’s Memoir of Venezuela’s Democratic Revolution, at bookstores, online, or directly from Curbstone Press.

http://narcosphere.narconews.com/story/2007/5/27/162742/757

Authorization for reproduction given by Narconews on Thursday, May 30th 2007.

The opinions expressed herein in the articles and comments are those of their authors and do not necessarily reflect those of AlterInfos. Insulting or injurious comments will be deleted without previous notice. AlterInfos is a pluralist media with a sensibility leaning toward the left. It tries to echo emancipatory projects and struggles. Comments oriented towards the opposite direction will not be published here, but they will surely find another space on the web to do so.

Forum posts

  • RCTV has been broadcasting in my country for more period of time (more than 50 years) than what you stayed in Venezuela (20 years)...

    My father has been in VENEZUELA for 57 year (He was born in Here) and you think that because you have been there for that period of time (20 years), you know our needs??... I wonder in what period of time you stayed those years… Who was the President back then?
    Because let me tell you something you would never have stayed today in the “Nueva Tacagua barrio” that you say you lived… Yes, living with the poor people, eaten like them… You won’t do it NOW because you know that you might end death… How wonderful is living in Venezuela now, don’t you think???

    So please don’t tell me that because you lived only 20 years you know better… Let’s talk to my father, my uncles, my aunts, because they have seen more than 20 years of Venezuela’s life…

    RCTV has been and is part of our lives and only the PEOPLE can decide if its stays or not… Chavez is only a President HE IS NOT my owner and he is not and never will Venezuela’s Owner, because Venezuela belongs to 25,730,435 VENEZUELANS!!

  • Is so easy for you to talk about what you don’t know and I am pretty sure that is even more easy for you to speak about what is not detrimental for yourself, your family or your country!!! This is not about politics, this is about our Rights.
    I am a Venezuelan, who support Freedom and for your knowledge what is going on My Country is more than the clousure of a network channel, is more than be crying around, what they are doing to us is mutilating our tongues and blindfolding our eyes!!! Woulnd’t you cry if someone is hurting you so deep that is even hard to explain, like I said before this is not about a simple network channel, is not about politics preferences, is about my right to choose, is about my future children right to choose, is about my history, is about the importance of my culture, is about my country which it seems to be trap in a time machine going backwards instead of moving foward.
    You seem to be a literate person so you probably heard about a greek philosopher called Epictetus and I have the need to quote him “Freedom is the right to live as we wish” and the 80% of the Venezuelan people “wish” to have RCTV (A historic Venezuelan patrimony) on their Tv’s and be able to decide either to wacht them or not.
    And because I appreciate democracy, belive it or not I respect your opinion and impression about what is going on in Venezuela; but as a proud Venezuelan is my duty to suggest you to try to place yourself on a Venezuelan’s shoes, place yourself within the 80% of Venezuelan who are been violeted by the hideus impunity of a goverment who think that if you don’t agree with them you become and adversary, an enemy...and only after that express yourself as you did.

  • It is really funny how people might thing that in fact Chavez is doing something for MY COUNTRY VENEZUELA, where delinquency has been growing in an alarming way… I am talking about 11,025 Homicides in 2003!!! Don’t even talk about last year quantity of Homicides… I am wonder if Mr. Charles Hardy would like to write a book about the fast growing of delinquency on CHAVEZ PRESIDENCY!!!

    Think for one second, what type of people in average is a delinquent, I would say that most of the time is people with low incomes and poor quality of live, ironically that is the People that the President Chavez says He “supports & Helps”, and so I ask myself who the delinquents in VENEZUELA are then???

    As of today in Venezuela the word “crime” forms part of the daily conversations where you as an average person cannot have the beautiful dreamed home (even if you have worked your whole life to have it), and if you do… Well, you better have a lot of money because you might be kidnapped. Believed or not that is a fact and even do if you are a medium class or low class person you might be kidnapped as well because EVERYBODY HAVE A PRICE in the actual Venezuelan delinquency Era.

    Criminality is so bad lately in Venezuela that you cannot use nice shoes, a nice watch or a nice cell phone (if you want to still alive) although you might have it you can use it very carefully, in private parties, inside your house or relatives homes, and if you go out you better take it all of and better try to have a “low profile life”… That’s the real truth of LIVING IN VENEZUELA …

    I respect all comments and opinion although I don’t agree with them, and you know what that’s so beautiful about democracy, been able to express, think and be Govern by Yourself; because the only Cancer and Enemy of the people is the Government that tries to indoctrinate it, shout it up or intimidate it.

    This criminality situation that all Venezuelan are living under Chavez Government not only happens in the Metropolitan City CARACAS it is actually happening all over the Country….

    Yes, it’s a wonderful CHAVEZ PROJECT of SOCIAL DESTRUCTION!!

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