Censored by YouTube–but why?

Luigino Bracci, a popular Chavista blogger (El Espacio de Lubrio), has had his YouTube channel killed. The reason is not what you might expect. Luigino published neither an incitement to violence, nor hate speech, nor pornography, nor a recipe for Molotov cocktails. His no-no? Posting a debate originally broadcast on the Spanish TV channel Antena 3, in which a Globovision “journalist”, invited to a panel discussion, got her past handed to her:

(Video posted by Radioaporrea. Watch your backs, folks, you might be next.)

This debate occurred on April 30 of this year. The topic of discussion was RCTV and the non-renewal of its licence. Nitu Perez Osuna, Globovision’s invitee, was accused of being a coup-monger by philosophy professor Carlos Fernandez of the University of Madrid. (This occurs at the 40:07 mark in the video.)

Considering that this discussion was rebroadcast in Venezuela by Globovision, it was a media moment I’m sure that channel would rather we all forgot. In case the video gets yanked, here’s a short summary of the particulars:

Nitu Perez Osuna wears her bias on her sleeve–or rather, her lapel, where she’s got a loop of black ribbon prominently displayed. (Is that a diamond brooch holding it on?) She’s dressed all in white, as if to assert innocence. She proceeds to spout a lot of predictable spin which I won’t detail here; I’ll only say I’ve heard it all a thousand times and repetition has not made it true. Professor Fernandez challenges her on it repeatedly. So does another gentleman on the panel, Luis Alegre, also a professor of philosophy (who cites RCTV’s long list of infractions, many dating back to well before the presidency of Chavez.)

Then Marcel Granier, RCTV’s owner, comes on via telephone, spouting more of the same rubbish as Perez Osuna. He claims RCTV was shut down (a lie) for political reasons (another lie.) He doesn’t miss a chance to push his fraudulent agenda. He’s in full “poor me!” mode. After that, the discussion gets more animated in a hurry. There’s a lot of crosstalk.

Then Iris Varela, a popular and prominent member of the Venezuelan National Assembly, calls in. She and Professor Fernandez do a fine job of refuting Granier. Fernandez makes an emphatic point that RCTV was an active participant in the April 11 coup against Chavez. He also notes that several Spanish media were active supporters of the coup, as was then prime minister Aznar (who went down in disgrace later on.) He calls April 11 “the day the European media were golpistas.”

Then comes the question of what would happen to Antena 3, say, if they supported a coup d’etat against Prime Minister Rodriguez Zapatero, or the assassination of the king, Juan Carlos. That would be a fair analogy to what RCTV did in 2002, argues Professor Fernandez. He is clearly outraged at the notion of the media helping to perpetrate a coup against a head of state. When the conversation turns back to Nitu Perez Osuna, she claims Globovision is innocent (aha–the white suit was not a coincidence!) and that there was a “power vacuum”–an old, long debunked lie. Professor Fernandez laughs at her. (It’s terribly hard not to–after all this time, you might think they could come up with some new lies instead of just recycling the old ad nauseam. They’ve had five years.) Shortly after that comes the “you are a golpista” remark. But she doesn’t stop lying. She goes right on claiming Chavez had resigned and that a general had “accepted” the “resignation” that never was! (Well, no one can accuse her of going off message. Even if the message is complete bullshit.)

As the discussion comes to a close, the moderator keeps trying to render the discussion apolitical and the coup of ’02 irrelevant. Neither of these is possible. The fact that the Venezuelan media is politically polarized–and that virtually the entire major private media is anti-Chavez–cannot be swept under the rug, as both professors insist. The media was clearly complicit in the coup–one of the coup generals spelled it out loud and clear when we said “We had a great weapon–the communications media.” And Nitu Perez Osuna’s last words–the insistent lie that Chavez is a communist trying to kill freedom of speech–will redound to her discredit everytime this video is viewed.

This is what Luigino Bracci’s YouTube account was yanked for.

Antena 3 claims that this video was posted in violation of copyright, but this is hard to believe; if that were the case, Luigino Bracci’s channel would not be the only one suspended. There are other channels still posting this entire video with complete impunity; RadioAporrea, whose clip I used, is one of them.

I suspect that the real reason for this blatant bit of censorship is that Globovision complained about how it came off as a result of this mediatic moment, and that they picked on one vulnerable individual–Luigino Bracci–rather than an organized collective likely to fight back hard, such as Aporrea.org. They must have tipped off Antena 3 and that channel, in turn, insisted that Luigino’s channel be shut down altogether, rather than just yanking the offending video from all channels. This means that the more than 450 videos Luigino posted are no longer available–at least not from him, and not on YouTube.

Here’s Luigino himself, discussing the censorship on the current-affairs show Dando y Dando, with Aristobulo Isturiz and host Tania Diaz:

Luigino makes the good point that the Internet is supposed to be a participatory medium, an open forum for discussion. Yet there was no discussion here, and no request to remove that one video, just a sudden suspension of an entire account without warning.

Sadly, Luigino’s troubles don’t end there. In addition to being censored on YouTube, his CANTV internet account was hacked:

Yesterday, the user account of Luigino Bracci at CANTV.net was hacked. It appears that someone inside CANTV.net changed the password and then gave it out to a third party. Using the CANTV.net account, they then hacked his Google account and eliminated all the content of his blog, El Espacio de Lubrio.

Bracci warned fellow internet users that any material published in that space at that time, was not his doing.


For the moment his CANTV.net account has been recovered, but he says he does not consider it reliable.

In the end he called the new authorities at CANTV, who have received letters regarding this matter. It turns out that the personnel who worked in the department in question had worked in INTESA and PDVSA and were part of the oil lockout-sabotage of 2003.

From Aporrea; translation mine. (Links added so that those not familiar with the INTESA case or the PDVSA lockout can learn more about the role of malicious hackers in these crimes. Incidentally, this is the reason Chavez is so big on open-source software such as Linux, to the point of making it the government’s OS of choice–Microsoft Windows has gotten more, not less, hackable over time.)

Neither of these events is an isolated incident. Along with Luigino’s account, the Aporrea forum was also attacked. And as one Aporrea writer has found, Venezuela now has the dubious distinction of being the most-hacked country in the world, with an average of 690 attacks per hour. No word on who is doing what, but don’t be surprised if it turns out that most of these are perpetrated by operatives of the political right.

Clearly, this here is a case of malicious forces ganging up to censor and silence a popular progressive voice. There is a concerted effort going on to silence Chavista
s like Luigino Bracci.

How ironic is this, in light of the RCTV case–where a private-sector capitalist is complaining about being “silenced?” (He wasn’t–his YouTube account is doing just fine, thanks.) We are supposed to believe an entire country’s rights were stepped on just because a single licence, which one man repeatedly abused, was not renewed, while all his other rights and privileges remain intact?

Pardon me, Marcelito Granierito, if I find it hard to squeeze out even a tiny little crocodile tear for you, but I choose to save my sympathy for people who actually deserve it.

Do corporate owners have greater free-speech rights–STILL–than some little bloguero and his compadres? Do corporate owners even deserve such an extra tier of privilege, given how easy it is for them to abuse it, right up to the level of high treason?

Where, oh where, are those free-speech advocates, and why, oh why, are they not making noise about THIS?

And when, oh when, will this state of unequal rights finally end?

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