Venezuela: What? No new media law? Then why all the fuss?

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So here I am, sifting through the junk in my inbox, still stupidly wondering why I’m getting garbage like this, or this, or this. When I know full well that the truth about Venezuela’s alleged “new media law” is this:

In response to private international and national media claims that Venezuela is discussing a media law which denies freedom of expression and punishes journalists, National Assembly members said that no such law proposal exists, only a discussion around how to combat the “media dictatorship” and “media terrorism.”

The president of the media commission in the National Assembly, Manuel Villalba, said on Tuesday that a proposal for a law with 17 articles, as claimed by some media, doesn’t exist and that rather, the Attorney General, Luisa Diaz, had presented ideas to the National Assembly, which are being debated, but that there is no consensus around her proposals.

“It’s not official,” Villalba said, explaining that no law had been formally presented or proposed. “All this just confirms that there are media owners who are systematically disseminating false opinions,” he said.

“No such law proposal exists.”

What? You mean Hugo Chávez is not gagging the media? And he’s not ruling by decree on this one? That means the Committee to Protect Journalists is lying to us, too!

“Only a discussion around how to combat the ‘media dictatorship’ and ‘media terrorism’.”

A discussion? Gee, that sure sounds a lot like someone is using freedom of speech!

“There is no consensus.”

What? Pluralism?? In Venezuela??? Holy fucking shit! That means it must be…gasp…shudder…A DEMOCRACY!!!

“It’s not official.”

But…but…but…the Associated Press keeps telling me it is! Why would they do that? Do they not know that lying, like libel, is illegal–and unethical?

“There are media owners who are systematically disseminating false opinions.”

Oh. Oh. OH! Now I get it. This isn’t really about free speech, is it? No, of course not. It’s about media ownership of the airwaves–which by their very nature are actually public, not private–and with them, the ownership of people’s minds. That changes the debate considerably, wouldn’t you say?

Hang on, there’s more:

Legislator Rosario Pacheco said that so far the draft that they have of the law considers media crime the publication of false, manipulative or distorted information that causes “harm to the interests of the state” or that threatens “public morale or mental health.” The assembly has discussed a maximum penalty of four years prison.

Journalist Asalia Venegis told Venezuelan Television (VTV), “This law project… incorporates everything that is unequivocally expressed in the Law of Journalist Practice and the Code of Ethics, which establish a series of perspectives over what the treatment of the news and the role of the journalist should be.”

Diaz also suggested the law should focus on protection for journalists who are coerced into putting their name to, or writing articles that they don’t believe. Therefore, she said, rather than going against freedom of expression, the law should “promote safe and true freedom of expression that reaches everyone and doesn’t attack the peace of the citizens.”

Further, she said in Article 20 of the Constitution, everyone has the right to freedom of expression, so long as they don’t violate the rights of others or attack the state, the health of other people, or the public morale.

“Incorporates everything that is unequivocally expressed in the Law of Journalist Practice and the Code of Ethics.”

Meaning, this proposed (not yet official!) bill not nearly as new and restrictive as it’s been made out to be. That law and code both predate the Bolivarian Republic, by the way.

“Should focus on protection for journalists who are coerced into putting their name to, or writing articles that they don’t believe.”

Now who could those be? Surely not those who were told, as Andrés Izarra was by his bosses at RCTV during the coup of ’02, “nothing pro-Chávez on screen”? (Izarra quit his formerly cushy job, rather than practise shitty journalism.)

“Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, so long as they don’t violate the rights of others or attack the state, the health of other people, or the public morale.”

I wonder if the media barons know that. Because it seems to me that THEIR notion of freedom involves an awful lot of violating the rights of others, attacking the state, injuring the health of others, and wrecking the public morale.

Especially those at Globovisión, which has come under fire, and deservedly so. Their presstitutes have done everything from stealing confidential documents to deliberate provocation to…well, shit like this:

A small group of people identified with Lina Ron’s pro-Chavez United for Venezuela Party (UPV) were filmed firing tear gas into the Globovision offices and clashing with police in La Florida, before making their getaway on motorcycles early Monday morning.

The attack occurred a day after Diosdado Cabello, head of Venezuela’s telecommunications agency (CONATEL), announced the closure of 34 private radio stations for operating illegally or violating regulations.

Globovision, a virulently opposition television channel is loathed by grass-roots Chavez supporters, particularly for its involvement in the 2002 coup that briefly ousted the democratically elected Chavez from power. Many groups call for the channel to be taken off air.

While making clear that the government is willing revoke Globovision’s broadcasting license due to its continuous violation of Venezuelan law, Chavez said, “These types of actions do damage to the socialist revolution, because they are counter-revolutionary.”

Is Lina Ron merely a hot-headed would-be revolutionary suffering from an excess of zeal, as she appears, or is she something worse–a ringer for the opposition? Many Bolivarians think that Lina Ron could be an infiltrator; she’s been called up on the carpet more than once for her “undisciplined” actions. It’s amazing that she could have received so many prior warnings (from none other than Chavecito himself!) and still keep doing what she’s doing; such “activism” on her part plays right into Globoterror’s hands. (They insist that it was Chávez himself who sent her and her band of brigands to tear-gas them, which is a blatant lie. He would have to be an idiot to give orders of that nature, and anyone who’s observed him in action, even if they don’t like him, would still have to admit that the man is far
from being dumb.)

Whatever Lina may be, it is not her right, or that of any other street-level activist, to provoke or intimidate even the worst TV station in Venezuela; it is the government’s job to revoke its license (an action which is more than warranted, even under pre-Chávez laws) and turn its signal over to another station that will use it more responsibly. The last thing that anyone needs is to try to put out Globoterror’s fires with gasoline.

In the meantime, the debate over whether there should be a new media law, and what it should entail if proposed, is still going on. As is Globoterror’s on-air régime, which is still untouched–for now. You won’t get that from anyone in the major media up here, and I leave it to you to guess why.

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9 Responses to Venezuela: What? No new media law? Then why all the fuss?

  1. Manaat says:

    Well, you still haven’t done a post on “Chávez shuts down radio stations” meme yet.

  2. Well, there’s only one thing wrong with that piece–the law they’re talking about doesn’t exist. It’s a strawman.
    Denis MacShane is a putschist, so this invocation of a strawman makes perfect sense in THAT context, at least.

  3. Manaat says:

    Well, I told that to Weisbrot, and so he added that update.
    Btw, how do you like my new nick? 🙂

  4. Manaat says:

    It’s one of the 3 Nabatean goddesses who were also worshipped by the people of Mecca before Islam. I thought of this seeing someone else comment under the nick “Uzza”, who is another one of those. The third one is called “Lat”.

  5. (smacks forehead)
    Of course! I had forgotten all about them. Al-Lat is, if I’m not mistaken, a possible source of the name of Allah. It means simply “The Goddess”.
    Very clever of you!

  6. ceti says:

    Media terrorism is exactly what is happening in the US where right-wing mobs are being whipped into a murderous fury. The fact that the same media is colluding with various industries to kill progressive legislation that would, heaven forbid, save countless lives counts as terrorism in my books. That these mobs are baying for Obama’s blood is a sight to behold. This will not end well.
    Too bad the Obama Administration is too scared whitless about disobeying its corporate masters or doing something really provocative like honouring its election promises.
    Yes, and we are back to the great Yeats and the Second Coming.

  7. No shit.
    Corporate “personhood” must DIE.

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