Dear members and friends,
You will no doubt be seeing news headlines "Venezuelan troops take TV equipment" and worse, circulating the world today, many referring to "international criticism of (Chavez') decision not to renew RCTV's license and to replace Venezuela's most-watched channel with a state-backed network that will promote the values of his (sic) self-styled socialist revolution."
It is important that you are clear that the 'international criticism' referred to is confined to prominently identified right wing identities and their media outlets, and their allies in the US Bush administration. This is a highly politicized campaign utilizing the international mass media. Opposition leaders openly state their aim in protesting the closure of RCTV is to return Venezuela to the old "4th Republic" days and rid themselves of Chavez.
Any strategy based on "removing Chavez' is doomed to fail. Over the past nine years Venezuela has undergone a mass, popular, peaceful and democratic revolution. Chavez represents the hopes and aspirations of millions of Venezuelan's. Those millions of Venezuelan's have been demanding for many years that the media be democratised as well. For Venezuelan's today the media does not just represent the opposition – it is the opposition. Venezuela's community and alternative media is flourishing – has expanded enormously and is as an essential part of people's power.
Ironically it was the direct actions of the media in 2002 in working to implement the briefly lived coup and politically identifying themselves – not as 'independent' reporters but as creating the very biased discourses – which has led to the Venezuelan people being so conscious about the role of the mass media. They have led to their own demise.
And let's be clear. There is no forced, troop seizure of the RCTV in the way it is being presented. Notice was given months ago and court actions and appeals were lodged, followed through and have been lost by RCTV.
What is happening today is happening as a result of a process of accountability. The Chanel 2 public broadcast license was up for renewal. The government has considered that the best option for the Venezuelan public – the public interest that government is elected to represent – will be best served by allowing access to that broadcasting frequency to the many many public, community and alternative programs already being produced and transmitted on community frequencies. This followed wide consultations as is the hallmark of the current Venezuelan government.
It is a tribute to the Bolivarian revolution that the new TVes will not be producing new material themselves – but will be transmitting the wealth of material that people are already producing and that has a more limited audience currently.
Viva the Bolivarian Revolution and the cultural developments that it brings! AVSN congratulates the Bolivarian government and people's organizations for this exciting step forward and for following legal and democratic processes to do so.
When AVSN began to compose this note about the closure of RCTV and the transmission of the new Public broadcaster VTes, it was to be simply a congratulatory note - many compañeros have worked very hard to ensure a peaceful transition to the new public and socially responsible state owned TV station. And while in many ways it still is a great congratulations that we send to the Bolivarian Revolution and those millions of Venezuelan's who firmly reject the media monopoly which continues to destabilise and agitate for the pro-capitalist and imperialist systems they are a part of it is also a message of solidarity and condemnation of violence.
AVSN notes the violent and aggressive reaction of the business managers of RCTV and their associates within Venezuela and in the USA, in calling for violent actions to overthrow the government in the supposed aim of "restoring democracy". We particularly deplore the use of armed violence by the RCTV protest organizers who on Sunday 27 May opened fire and shot 11 members of the Venezuelan security forces outside the RCTV – Tves building, and we applaud the restraint shown by the Venezuelan security forces in not responding with further violence and in continuing to negotiate and defuse the confrontations.
As the vast majority of Venezuelan's tell you, they are very proud of their peaceful, democratic revolution. Incidents of violence are abhorred. Violence is understood by Bolivarians as a tactic of the opposition, the old fourth republic and their allies in imperialist and war mongering circles. Violence is a clear violation of the revolutionary conscienceness and it is used exclusively by the opposition : they are familiar with and comfortable with violence as they have used violence and repression for decades to control the population. Posada Carilles and other notable torturers and murders acted within the old state structures to carry out their crimes against the left and the general population.
However on the eve of the license for transmission to expire - at about 7pm Caracas time on Sunday 27th May, the opposition protest began to OPEN FIRE on the metropolitian police and national guard who were providing security for their RCTV protest. An outrageous action from the RCTV which shows their true colors – this is how they chose to operate in an open and free democracy. Under people's power being constructed in Venezuela, people are not just 'allowed' to organise a (peaceful, mass) protest, they are positively encouraged to express themselves and have a voice and a public presence. As such millions of Venezuelans, who are the Bolivarian Revolution in action, have demanded that the licence not be renewed to RCTV, this has been public knowledge for some time - It is the clear will of the majority of Venezuelan's that the public licence and broadcast rights go to a socially responsible and democratic station. There is consistency of policy and the wishes of the vast majority of Venezuelan's in NOT renewing the license to this company : due to the long list of violations of broadcasting code : including several legal actions by governments prio to Chavez : as documented on the attached fact sheet – and due to the ongoing lies and misinformation transmitted by the broadcaster. They are free to continue to produce their materials and to sell them commercially and to broadcast via satellite. However they are no longer holders of the public broadcast license.
Please don't hesitate to contact any one of us if you would like further information
SOME FURTHER RESOURCES:
1. VIO Fact Sheet re RCTV closure
An visual presentation explaining the situation can be found in the video "Tell the truth" posted to: http://leftclickblog.blogspot.com/
Links to direct video footage and reports of the violence of the RCTV protests against the Bolivarians can be found at www.aporrea.org and review the www.venezuelasolidarity.org site regularly also for news in English.
An earlier link to the RCTV Supporters Rally : they claim the "most Venezuelan's " support them, yet with complete freedom to mobilize, and lots of money at their disposal as well as all the media they could desire !! this is their best result: Note VIDEO taken BEFORE the RCTV opened fire on the metropolitan police and national guard.