Telesur journalist assaulted, threatened with death in Quito. Déjà vu…

Thanks to postings by Otto at IKN and RickB at Ten Percent, I learned about this disturbing story. You probably won’t see this in the anglo media before tomorrow, so I’ll take the liberty of posting this video…

…and translating the Aporrea story that goes with it:

The Telesur correspondent in Ecuador, Elena Rodríguez, relates the aggressions she suffered at the hands of armed individuals.

The journalist says that the aggressors assaulted her and kicked her on the ground, robbing her of her belongings, among which were her documents and the keys to her car.

Finally, they left a paper on which was written a threat mentioning the journalistic work she was doing in Ecuador.

The tacky-looking menace note, incidentally, reads: “Next time you won’t be saved by Correa and Chávez”.

If you’re wondering how Elena Rodríguez could be so composed in the video above, it’s because she’s been there before. I googled to see if there were any English reports on her yet beyond the blogosphere (there aren’t), and found out something rather remarkable: The same thing happened to her two years ago. And, amazingly, RSF–normally in the grips of a huge hate-on for all things even remotely connected to the president of Venezuela–actually reported the story accurately, if briefly:

Reporters Without Borders today condemned threats made in the past month against the Quito-based staff of the pan-Latin American TV news channel Telesur. This is not the first time the station, launched by the Venezuelan government, has been the target of hostility. The press freedom organisation calls on the Ecuadorean authorities to quickly put a stop to it.

“The death threats and attempted sabotage of Telesur’s Ecuadorean branch come on the heels of attempts to harass and intimidate its Colombian correspondent, Freddy Muñoz (see release of 16 February),” Reporters Without Borders said.

“Telesur represents an important current of opinion in Latin America and the way it is being attacked and smeared in some countries violates the principle of respect for editorial pluralism,” the organisation added. “The threats have already been reported to the Ecuadorean judicial authorities. We urge them to identify those responsible and bring them to justice.”

In a Quito news conference yesterday, Telesur chairman Andrés Izarra condemned a “campaign of harassment against the station’s staff” in Quito that began about a month ago. He said journalist Helena Rodríguez had received death threats from a “Death to Telesur” email address. “The messages accuse her of being [Venezuelan] President Hugo Chávez’s prostitute,” he said. Similar threats have been sent to other staff members and one of the station’s vehicles was sabotaged.

That report is dated June 13, 2007. It reads like a real case of déjà vu, doesn’t it?

Little wonder, then, that Elena Rodríguez appears so calm. She’s faced this sort of thing on a regular basis.

The cowards who did this to her are not only hired mafiosi (and don’t you wonder who their capo is?), they’re also dead wrong. She doesn’t work for Rafael Correa OR Hugo Chávez, but for Telesur–whose president is Andrés Izarra. He is strongly committed to accurate, unprejudiced reporting. How committed? He used to work for the far-right Radio Caracas Televisión until the coup of ’02, when he refused to follow the station’s “zero Chavismo on screen” line and quit. He knew that the streets were seething with angry protesters who wanted their president back, and also that the station’s refusal to report it was inexcusable. At the time, there were no other job openings waiting for him, and the coup had yet to be reversed, so it was an extremely brave thing to do. He probably faced a blacklist by all the other oppo channels, who followed the same line.

More proof, in case you needed it, that being an honest journalist in Latin America is a dangerous thing. While the dishonest ones are incestuously living it up in the same office buildings and rubbing shoulders with the high-society toffs, putting out sporadic and lazy “reports” heavy on “with files by…”, the real ones are literally putting their lives on the line to tell it the way it really is.

And somebody–no doubt rich and well-connected, probably with strong ties to opposition media–wants the honest journos dead. Perhaps it’s somebody they’ve reported on in past, or are currently following.

We shall see…

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4 Responses to Telesur journalist assaulted, threatened with death in Quito. Déjà vu…

  1. Manaat says:

    I also saw that thing from RSF and thought that at first as well. But you know, they tend to function mostly through local chapters, and the quality of what they say depends a lot on the local chapters. The Vzlan chapter of RSF is very partisan, like most Vzlan NGOs. RSF is much better on Ecuador and Bolivia. And generally speaking, the thing may have improved after Menard left.

  2. It’s quite possible. On the other hand, both Ecuador and Bolivia, like Venezuela, have very oppo-dominated media empires with the lion’s share of the papers and broadcast channels, and the only reason they aren’t quite as rabid there is because the local media have not (yet) been co-opted by coupmongers, as they have in Venezuela. That’s because Ecuador and Bolivia both haven’t had anything like Venezuela had on April 11, 2002–YET. But judging by all the complaints I hear from El Ec and Evo, their media still have a lot of crap in the pipes. And I’m sure that if they thought they could get away with it, they’d be more than happy to try what their Venezuelan counterparts did. (That’s one good thing that came out of the coup of ’02–it showed the media what happens when you actively promote coups. You lose all credibility and never get it back again!)

  3. Manaat says:

    I don’t know firsthand, but I’ve heard from quite a few Vzlans who had a taste of Bolivian media that the Bolivian media are significantly worse, much more overtly racist and agressive. RSF has actually done reporting on Bolivian media criticizing the racism in much of their media. Maryclen Stelling, who heads the “Observatorio Global de los Medios” monitored Bolivian media when Evo first got elected, and the conclusion that she said stuck out was the visceral racism. Similarly, Okrim Al-Qasal was also in Bolivia in 2008 when things happened, and he also thought that Globovisión and El Nacional (of Venezuela) were almost sane and balanced compared to Bolivian media.

  4. Racist they certainly are (and hideous to boot!), but so far, they haven’t succeeded in getting any of the Bolivian military on side for an actual putsch. Whereas in Venezuela, they got together with a bunch of high military commanders to announce all the deaths in the coup before any had even happened. Maybe the Bolivian media are figuring in the success of imported terrorists to do the job instead; if that’s the case I have to say EPIC FAIL–Branko’s boys have only succeeded in getting themselves killed or taken prisoner.
    And in the case of El Ec, they must really be stewing, because he’s white, speaks English, and went to university in the US–and he STILL isn’t in bed.

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