Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Hugo Chavez's Crusade

Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela.
On Sunday, Venezuela's socialist president Hugo Chavez was at the centre of an international crisis. At midnight, he decided not to renew the license of TV channel Radio Caracas Television (RCTV). Before that, on Friday, the Venezuelan army received an order from the Supreme Court to seize the TV channel's broadcast equipment and to occupy its head office. Chavez's critics are not necessarily wrong when they uphold that his regime starts to look like Cuban president Fidel Castro's regime.

Actually, there's one difference with Chavez and Castro. In fact, Venezuela's current president got "democratically" elected with 62.87% of the votes during the election of December 4, 2006 despite the low participation rate. Nonetheless, Chavez is not really convincing as a democrat. Evidently, his country got ranked 115th in the press freedom index of Reporters without Borders last year.

When RCTV was closed, it was replaced by a state-run channel called TVes. This new channel will be used by Hugo Chavez to promote his "21rst century socialism". Many government officials said that RCTV does no good to the population and that it damages the government of Venezuela. Seriously, before its closure, RCTV was the most watched channel in Venezuela. Furthermore, Chavez said that RCTV showed a "subversive" content by being opposed to him. Actually, this former TV channel was openly criticizing Chavez, but it's not behind the coup d'État of 2002!

Even though RCTV presented news shows just like any other TV channels, the main shows presented by RCTV were mostly humour shows (mocking Chavez) and TV series.

Strange though it might sound, Hugo Chavez's "21rst century socialism" starts to look like a leftism from the Cold War. Indeed, this man believes a lot in governmental intervention. Unfortunately, with the closure of RCTV, mainstream media is being more and more controlled by the Venezuelan government. The main consequence of this fact is the beginning of the absence of independent -albeit controlled by private companies- media in Venezuela. In spite of its opposition to Chavez, RCTV provided a political forum to people who wanted to freely express their opinions.

Besides, this event also reveals many contradictions in Hugo Chavez's political discourse! To see it, you just have to take a look at the constitution of Venezuela. According to the article 2 of the constitution, Venezuela is a country built on the values of "freedom, justice, equality, [...] democracy, [...] human rights, ethics and political pluralism".

While remembering that Hugo Chavez wrote the current constitution, it's quite pathetic to see that he disregards the article 57 of it. In fact, according to this article, "anybody has the right to freely express his/her thoughts, ideas or opinions [...] without the intervention of censorship". Hugo Chavez and some of his supporters (some members of his party are against the closure of RCTV) can say whatever they want. However, the closure of RCTV is an attack to freedom of press.

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