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Fri

13

Jun

2008

The portcullis needs to be raised and dialogue begun - Nov. 23 looms on Chavez' horizon
Friday, 13 June 2008 04:00
by Roy S. Carson

A perhaps well-intended exhortation appears in the current issue of the Australian Green Left Weekly relaying a statement by the US-based and Venezuelan government financed Venezuelan Information Office (VIO) to deluge/mailbomb the office of the New York Times in protest over a June 3 article entitled “Chavez Decree Tightens Hold on Intelligence.”

They say the article "demonstrates the NYT’s ongoing attempt to mislead the general public about the intentions of the Venezuelan government."

Perhaps! But the more important question is rather: should the Venezuelan government — even by extension through its Washington agency — be seeking to impose restraints on ANY media? For the thrust of the Green Left Weekly reporting on behalf of the VIO is "one might have expected the article to describe the content of Venezuela’s new intelligence law and discuss a range of reactions to it."

REALLY! And who is Green Left Weekly to seek to impose editorial policy on another publication ... and what indeed would Green Left Weekly's reaction be if the NYT sought to impose editorial policy on Green Left Weekly? The question doesn't really need an obvious answer!

The reflection rather highlights a growing debate both in Venezuela and without. Sure enough, the privately-owned media in Venezuela is besotted with a passion to get rid of President Hugo Chavez Frias, who they see as the incarnation of every evil they ignored (or were forced to ignore) during the regimes that preceded Chavez coming to power in February 1999. The media in Venezuela exercises a fuller liberty to excoriate the presidency and to belittle any significance in the exploration of democratic rights towards true representation of the people by the people that, given the ethos of Green Left Weekly, one should perhaps seek first to impose restraints on the Venezuelan media ... both anti-government and pro-government ... in their daily mutual blood-lettings for political and economic advantage.

It's really part of the problem...

While, elsewhere, one can easily deplore the ignorance and clear USA-bias of the New York Times in its reporting of anywhere outside the geographical limitations of the nearest Chicken Shack, there is little point in huffing and puffing at the institution in the forlorn hope that the building will somehow fall down.

The legendary Katherine Graham once told me that the Washington Post was "a window on the world" but she must have forgotten that windows very often need cleaning to provide greater visibility to those on the inside as well as those on the outside.

Just a month or so back, Venezuela's Communications & Information Minister, Andres Izarra wrote an impassioned plea to the Washington Post's editorial director Jackson Diehl pointing out the error of his ways with regards to editorializing on affairs Venezuelan. Personally, I thought that Andres' missal was ill-judged! NOT because he didn't have many valid points to make, but rather because protests from high-ranking government officials outside the range of immediate 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue retribution are treated like candy to WP editorialists adding only to the embellishment of their CVs and their own self-importance. i.e. nothing is achieved other than the wastage of pen, ink and a postage stamp.

And does one REALLY think that hundreds or perhaps thousands of emails will even make their way through that publication's elaborate SPAM filtering system ... it won't!

Green Left Weekly rightly points out that in the new Intelligence & Counterintelligence Law — which, incidentally, has been placed on hold pending a series of changes ordered by President Chavez to secure safer guarantees for human rights — the existence of the law provides a level of transparency that was lacking before.

The new law (when it is finally enacted) will guarantee the rights of freedom of expression and due process under the law established in Venezuela’s Constitution where it is clearly outlined (Article 21) that those who are charged will be guaranteed the right to public defense.


The necessity of the Intelligence & Counterintelligence Law reform is patently clear against all the abuses and violations committed under past administrations and the fact that Venezuela is constantly subjected to both domestic and foreign threats to its national security. In essence, Venezuela is reorganizing its intelligence services to guarantee security of democratic institutions and to guarantee that its execution is wholly within the legal framework of the constitution.

As for mailbombing or otherwise blitzing the New York Times ... or any other publication ... with embittered communications simply castigating the depth, or lack of it, in a published report, it is simply a waste of time and resources that could otherwise be employed in helping the stubbornly biased correspondent/editorialist acquaint him/herself with the TRUTH about what is REALLY happening in Venezuela.

It is here, perhaps, that current leaders in Venezuela appear to have gone astray. Their opinions are often dictated as mandates to be accepted on penalty of exclusion or accepted as unquestioning lip-serving serfs. That is surely NOT the way of democracy? President Hugo Chavez has himself expressed a willingness to dialogue with the people ... yet his ministers, his ambassadors, his administration often pull down the shutters, slam the doors shut on essential dialogue for fear that sensitive ears may have to suffer the tiniest criticism, constructive or otherwise.

The portcullis needs to be raised and dialogue begun otherwise November 23 looms on Chavez' horizon with storm clouds brewing!

You simply don't create friends, rather enemies, by going around clubbing them over the heads with baseball bats for expressing an opinion that they (rightly or wrongly) hold that is at variance with your own perception (rightly or wrongly) of what you (rightly or wrongly) believe to be true.

So much more is to be achieved through one-on-one dialogue without supremacy one over the other, for an opinion shared is not necessarily an imposition of one will over the other but the fullest freedom of one individual to express an opinion and an equal freedom for the other to agree or disagree.

Venezuela is facing the most difficult period of its history with honest reporters crippled by sectarianism on top of rampant corruption within the administration and beyond, aided and abetted by criminal forces in the US and Spanish governments which cannot accept the sovereignty of the Venezuelan people to decide over their own future.
 
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