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Thursday, June 07, 2007


SAN SALVADOR -- This week's failure by most Latin American countries to speak out against Venezuela's censorship of its oldest nationwide television network at the Organization of American States' annual meeting in Panama marked a serious setback for freedom of the press -- and democracy -- in the region. Read the full column here, and let us know what YOU think.


Blogger RodrigoSG said...

Maybe this is a good time to reflect on the true nature of OAS. Is it a step toward a union of the European type? Or is it a forum like UNO, where governments can talk problems over and, hopefully, progress in their solution, but in which it would be impossible to enforce rules of the kind Andrés mentions? The fact that the member states approved those rules points to the first kind of organization. In these days we see signing treaties with carefree abandon, however. I am pretty sure that there has not been the political will and work to craft that sort of integration.

Just remember the pitiful example of the United Nations Commission for Human Rights, where a government like the Cuban or the Sudanese could enter just to make sure that the Commission did not do its work, while lots of intellectuals cheered and proclaimed that this was precisely as it should be. Such an attitude makes those high minded rules of OAS a farce. The governments involved should perhaps admit this and scrap the rules that obligate members to certain standards of interior behaviour.

Meanwhile, nevertheless, OAS is a circus in which an Honour System prevails, and in which the nice guys have the honour and the rogues have the system. When Washington censures Caracas, is it defending democracy or promoting its own agenda? What would be the opinion of Latin Americans on this point? Denouncing Chávez and demanding that he obey those rules without having first done that political and diplomatic work that would give them sense and strength, would be for most or four governments like offering ones´ neck to the executioner. Martyrdom is admirable, but do we want our governments to be martyrs?

I suggest that demanding OAS to set Chávez straight right now is to pretend that the farce be reality. It would mean to put demagoguery against demagoguery, false claims against false claims, to make believe that we are safe on shore when in practice we are in the midst of the sea, exhausted and with no easy solution in sight. Realizing that is where we are and admitting it is, of course, terribly hard. It is also a necessary first step toward a solution…

7:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Naturally Mr Oppenheimer thinks there's no reason to censor a TV station just for a little matter like incitement to treason, let alone a trifle like suppressing the news of the democratic uprising that overturned the coup. Journalists need to be free to express the opinion of the wealthy elite, which is all that Mr Oppenheimer cares about.

Look, for example, at his PBS commentary after the 2002 coup where he managed to discuss the triumphant return of Venezuela's democratic government without mentioning the role of the popular masses at all. That really sums up his oligarchic, elitist, blinkered vision. In that commentary he repeated the coup-justifying lies the dictatorship-for-a-day had used (and had divulged beforehand to the CIA). In this he functioned as an agent of the US empire against Latin American independence and democracy.

That oligarchic and imperialist orientation is why Mr Oppenheimer can't understand the need to replace RCTV with a democratic channel, and why he can't understand that the OAS is no longer a mouthpiece of the US empire.

1:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any Venezuelan has access to 100+ channels on the American owned DirectTV network; even Oppenheimer's horrible little TV program can be seen in Venezuela so as usual Oppenheimer has no clue about what he's talking about.

11:28 PM  
Blogger leftside said...

Silence? RCTV was all I read about at the conference, to the detriment of the supposed environmental focus. Izurra spoke out against it when it happened, as have certain legislatures and executives (others like Lula have backed the Venezuelan position). It was not under the purview of this meeting, thought it will be studied by a committee. But we are talking about a sovereign decision, done according to the law (they could have pulled the concession in April 2002).

Oppenheimer is a supposed democrat and integrationist (in central american at least) - but he is apparently against democracy within trade and political blocs. Institutions are beginning to lean against the US and that is the real crime in places like the OAS and Mercosur. This is the reason for these stilly attacks that twist reality into believing there was "silence" on the RCTV - or that opposition media is being silenced in Venezuela for that matter. El Observador, the supposed "news" threat to Chavez, is being picked up by Globovision now.

12:44 AM  

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