Thursday, May 24, 2007

Is Free Speech Really at Stake? Venezuela and RCTV?

This is from a balanced pro-Chavez site. There is confusion about this issue, because the American media is not telling the full story.

This article tells of the behavior of RCTV during the 2002 illegal coup attempt against President Chavez. RCTV didn't report in a biased manner, it played a participant role. The president of RCTV was in the palace, with the plotters. RCTV called on people to go into the streets, to overthrow Chavez. After the coup failed, RCTV stopped broadcasting news, and turned into a format showing cartoons.

The world learned about the pro-RCTV demonstrations this weekend, not the demos supporting Chavez.

Most Venezuelans who oppose the taking away of licensure, don't do it on free speech grounds. according to a recent poll. They like the "Who Wants To Be A Venezuelan Millionaire?" show, but have no sympathy for the news department. They want the diversity of the programs according to recent polling.

You don't hear about how RCTV, fired all pro-Chavez workers and talent from the station. Even Fox News has some liberals as Allen Coombs, Kiran Chetry, Geraldo Rivera etc. Some fired were with the station for as long as 30 years.

BY Patrick McElwee (

President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela has been the subject of many controversies. His critics often accuse him of laying the groundwork for dictatorship, despite the democratic credentials of his government. Chávez was democratically elected in 1998 and again in 2000 under a new constitution. He then won a recall election in 2004, which was certified by observers from the Carter Center and the Organization of American States. Chávez was re-elected last December by 63 percent of voters, a result again certified by international observers including the OAS and the European Union. Chávez has pledged to accelerate policies that have given poor Venezuelans vastly increased access to health care, education, and subsidized food, and in the last three and a half years of political stability, a remarkable 40 percent increase in the economy.

Throughout this process of increasing voter and citizen participation and electoral democracy, the Venezuelan opposition and their allies in the U.S. press have told us that authoritarianism was just around the corner. They now say it has arrived. The immediate focus of their concern is the president’s decision not to renew the broadcast license of a major television network that is openly opposed to the Chávez government. Their free speech concerns have been echoed by Human Rights Watch, Reporters without Borders, and the Committee to Protect Journalists. On the other hand, the vice-chair of the European Parliament’s Freedom Commission, ruling out a resolution on the issue, has said the non-renewal has nothing to do with human rights.

Here are the basic facts. Rádio Caracas Televisión (RCTV) is one of the biggest television networks in Venezuela. It airs news and entertainment programs. It is also openly opposed to the government, including by supporting a military coup that briefly ousted Chávez in 2002. During the oil strike of 2002-2003, the station repeatedly called upon its viewers to come out into the street and help topple the government. As part of its continuing political campaign against the government, the station has also used false allegations, sometimes with gruesome and violent imagery, to convince its viewers that the government was responsible for such crimes as murders where there was no evidence of government involvement.

According to a law enacted in 1987, the licenses given to RCTV and other stations to use the public airwaves expire on May 27. President Chávez has publicly declared that RCTV’s license will not be renewed, citing its involvement in the coup. Although it will not be able to continue to use the public broadcast frequencies, the station will still be able to send its signal out over cable, satellite, and the Internet.

The U.S. media, much of which has been unsuccessfully predicting dictatorship under Chávez for years, has used this case to make accusations of censorship and the end of press freedom in Venezuela.

To understand the issue better, I decided to talk to the human rights and press freedom groups who have criticized the action.

José Miguel Vivanco of Human Rights Watch clarified for me that “broadcasting companies in any country in the world, especially in democratic countries, are not entitled to renewal of their licenses. The lack of renewal of the contract, per se, is not a free speech issue. Just per se.” A free speech issue arises if the non-renewal is to punish a certain editorial line.

Still, Benoît Hervieu of Reporters Without Borders in Paris said that, while he could not be certain, he thought US and European governments would stop short of non-renewal despite RCTV’s “support for the coup.”

“I think that there would be pressure to make a replacement at the head of the channel. But I don’t think that they would not renew the concession. There is a risk in that story. There are 3000 employees at RCTV. So I don’t think that even in a country like [the United States or France], a government would risk putting 3000 people in the streets,” he said.

Could it be that governments like Venezuela have the theoretical right not to renew a broadcast license, but that no responsible government would ever do it? In the United States, this may seem plausible, since broadcast licenses here seem to be forever. (Who could imagine life without ABC, CBS, or NBC?) Still, the government sometimes takes actions in other parts of the economy that result in a company going out of business.

Actually, in other democratic countries, broadcast companies sometimes do not get their licenses renewed. For example, in Britain in 1992, in a process based in part on a subjective assessment of “quality of service,” Thames Television lost its license after 24 years of service. Several British commentators speculated that the Thatcher government had influenced the result.

So democracies do occasionally find reasons not to renew a license. So what about this case in particular: Would RCTV have had its license renewed in the United States or Europe?

While the two US-based human rights advocates I spoke with declined to answer that question directly, they acknowledged that non-renewal would not be out of the question here.

Vivanco said, “I don’t know. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) could decide that they’re not going to renew, for instance, Fox News or MSNBC because they’re in violation of the contract, according to the conditions of the contract. Normally you settle those things in court.”

Carlos Lauría of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) spoke similarly: “I don’t think you can translate what’s going on there [in Venezuela] to the United States. That’s a very difficult question. I mean, if RCTV had violated the law, I assume they wouldn’t get the concession renewed.”

For Lauría, non-renewal itself is not the problem. His concern is the process by which the decision was reached. “I assume in the US there would be a process. The FCC would follow protocol. This is what hasn’t happened in Venezuela. We’re not arguing that the concession should be renewed, should be given to RCTV. We’re just saying that there’s no process to evaluate if it should be.”

Vivanco also complained about the process, saying that if the government argues there is a violation of the contract, “that would be settled normally in court. Second, if there’s some crimes committed, the individuals who were involved in those crimes should be prosecuted in a court of law.”

On process, they have a legitimate point. The government seems to have made the decision without any administrative or judicial hearings. Unfortunately, this is what the law, first enacted in 1987, long before Chávez entered the political scene, allows. It charges the executive branch with decisions about license renewal, but does not seem to require any administrative hearing. The law should be changed, but at the current moment when broadcast licenses are up for renewal, it is the prevailing law and thus lays out the framework in which decisions are made.

However, Vivanco’s critique goes beyond process to the government’s justification for non-renewal. “You have the president saying, forget it, the license is not going to be renewed, it’s a bunch of golpistas [coup-mongers] or fascists or whatever – which is clearly some sort of censorship. That sounds like an arbitrary decision made by the president on political grounds. And that is not acceptable.”

Lauría also told me that RCTV was “selectively chosen because of opposition views.”

But is support for the violent overthrow of an elected government really protected political speech? Vivanco acknowledges that RCTV “obviously probably sympathized with the coup.” But, he says, “it is a matter of free speech.”

Vivanco understates RCTV’s connection to the coup. RCTV encouraged viewers to attend a rally that was part of the coup strategy, invited coup leaders to address the country on their channel, and reported the false information that the president had resigned. After Pedro Carmona declared himself president and dissolved the National Assembly, Supreme Court, and other democratic institutions, the head of RCTV Marcel Granier met with him in the Presidential Palace. The following day, when mass protests and loyal army units brought back President Chávez, RCTV and other stations blacked out the news, showing movies and cartoons instead.

Such actions clearly go beyond protected free speech, at least in the United States. Imagine the consequences if NBC took such actions during a coup against Bush.

In fact, RCTV’s participation in the oil strike of 2002-2003, and even their joining in legal political campaigns would be grounds for revoking their broadcast license in the United States.

Consider this episode in the US. Two weeks before the 2004 presidential election, it was reported that the Sinclair Broadcast Group, which operates the largest number of local TV stations in the United States, planned to order its affiliates to replace prime-time programming with a documentary critical of John Kerry.

Democrats were outraged. The Democratic National Committee filed a case with the FCC arguing that such “partisan propaganda” was inappropriate. And, yes, at least one powerful Democratic politician swore that if the documentary was aired, there would be no Sinclair Broadcast Group by the 2008 election. A Kerry spokesman said, “You don't expect your local TV station to be pushing a political agenda two weeks before an election. It's un-American.” Couldn’t it be un-Venezuelan too? (The political pressures above led Sinclair to cancel the anti-Kerry broadcast).

If RCTV were the only major source of opposition to the government, the loss of its voice would be troubling. It would also be disturbing if the RCTV case forced others to tone down legitimate opposition. But Greg Wilpert, a sociologist living in Venezuela, declares, “It is the height of absurdity to say that there’s a lack of freedom of press in Venezuela.”

Of the top four private TV stations, three air mostly entertainment and one, Globovisión, is a 24-hours news channel. On Globovisión, Wilpert says, “the opposition is very present. They pretty much dominate it. And in the others, they certainly are very present in the news segments.”

Regarding the print media, Wilpert told me, “There are three main newspapers. Of those three, two are definitely very opposition. The other one is pretty neutral. I would say, [the opposition] certainly dominates the print media by far. There’s no doubt about that.”

“I think some of the TV stations have slightly moderated [their opposition to the government] not because of intimidation, but because they were losing audience share. Over half of the population is supportive of Chávez . They’ve reduced the number of anti-Chávez programs that they used to have. But those that continue to exist are just as anti-Chávez as they were before.”

The RCTV case is not about censorship of political opinion. It is about the government, through a flawed process, declining to renew a broadcast license to a company that would not get a license in other democracies, including the United States. In fact, it is frankly amazing that this company has been allowed to broadcast for 5 years after the coup, and that the Chávez government waited until its license expired to end its use of the public airwaves.

Once again, it seems, the warnings of a move from democracy to dictatorship in Venezuela have been loud but lacking in evidence.

Patrick McElwee is a policy analyst with Just Foreign Policy ( He can be reached at



sonia said...

the behavior of RCTV during the 2002 illegal coup attempt against President Chavez. RCTV didn't report in a biased manner, it played a participant role. The president of RCTV was in the palace, with the plotters. RCTV called on people to go into the streets, to overthrow Chavez.

I am curious how many media outlets were closed after supporting CHAVEZ'S 1997 EQUALLY ILLEGAL MILITARY COUP ATTEMPT AGAINST A DEMOCRATICALLY-ELECTED GOVERNMENT...

Chavez has no right to complain about military coups. He invented them.

John Peterson said...

Actually, Chavez' attempted coup took place in 1992. This was in response to the use of the military in brutally putting down the 1989 popular uprising known as the "Caracazo" - some 3,000 were killed by the government in February of that year. But Chavez' coup failed (no TV stations shut down), he accepted full responsibility, and served prison time for it. When he was released from prison due to popular pressure, he was seen as a hero of the people, and thus opened up the road to his becoming president.

Now, during the Chavez years, the ONLY TV stations to be shut down in Venezuela were Canal 8 (state TV) and Catia TV (a community station) - were these shut down by the Chavez government? No - they were shut down by the opposition during their brief 2002 coup (during which some 50 people were killed by pro-opposition police). This coup was reversed by the mass uprising of the Venezuelan people and the support of the rank and file of the military.

Those involved in the coup (which abolished the Constitution, disbanded the National Assembly, Supreme Court, etc. - very democratic!) did not accept responsibility, have done no prison time, and have been free to continue spewing their venom against Chavez and the poor (the Veneuelan workers and poor who support Chavez are what they really fear).

So Chavez certainly didn't "invent" coups. And RCTV isn't being "shut down", it just isn't getting its license to take up public bandwidth renewed due to numerous violations including active participation in the overthrow of the government. It is still completely free to broadcast on cable or satellite if they so choose.

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Craig Bardo said...

"This is from a 'balanced' pro-Chavez site."

Cmon Ren

Craig Bardo said...

Why in a country with the largest oil reserves in the western hemisphere,recently "appropriated" by the government, is the price of an egg in Venezuela approaching that of a Faberge egg if you can find one?

Why are beef, poultry and car parts scarce?

Ah those nasty unintended (but entirely predictable) consequences of price fixing.

Economics is a study of human and institutional behavior, which is very predictable. Even Trotsky knew this, which is why he wanted universal revolution throughout the world at the same time.

Once the mass killings are publicized and then justified and blamed on the U.S. by the western press, it will take decades to reform the carnage wrought on the economy of one of the world's most richly natural resourced countries.

The failure of "revolutionary economics" will then be blamed on poor implementation by apologists.

korova said...

Thanks for the heads-up on the article. I actually picked it up from ZNet. Very interesting read. Of course, most sensible people were already aware of why RCTV was not having its license renewed. What democratic country would accept a TV station that openly supported a coup on a democratically elected government? I'm sure the Bu$h lovers would be equally keen to put down a media outlet that supported a military coup. Oh no, hang on a minute, they're hypocrites aren't they.

I do take issue with the Coombs thing though. I mean really. Coombs? A liberal? I don't live in the US but I have seen him enough to know he is no liberal (besides, didn't Franken expose him as a Republican Party member??).

korova said...

Who would have thought that a raving capitalist would speak out about Chavez (cb)?? How depressingly predictable.

Craig Bardo said...

Ad hominems don't put eggs on the table or a chicken in the pot.

Frank Partisan said...

Sonia: I was expecting you to say something about this topic. This issue is being debated around the world. The issues are specific, and require more than abstractly talking about coups.

John: Welcome to my blog. Thank you for your articulate response.

Té la mà Maria : I hope you'll take part in the discussions on my blog. That Franco video was funny.

korova: I thought Coombs was a liberal. Now that Rupert Murdoch is in the Clinton fold, Fox News should be interesting.

CB: The article I reprinted had a large amount of information on the issue of RCTV. It included voices that were pro-RCTV.

The issue of food prices in Venezuela is important. I'm sure I will be posting about that, after Chavez nationalizes the food industry, for their criminal stockpiling of foods. They trying to kindle a Chile like situation.

Before you offer an opinion about RCTV, be sure to read the part of the post, about their behavior during the coup attempt.

Brian said...

Nonsense. If they really participated in the coup, then try them via the justice system. This is how such activities should be dealt with, not using regulators to settle political scores that judges haven't ruled on.

Larry Gambone said...

I can just imagine how long the US corporate state would allow a television station to produce propaganda for the overthrow of the government. My hope is that when push comes to shove Chavez will arm the people instead of wimping out like Salvador Allende.

Frank Partisan said...

Brian: Venezuelan law made before Chavez took power, gave the executive branch, total control over public airways.

Larry: Bush bombed Al Jazeera in Iran, and was going to bomb its Qatar headquarters. That is worse than taking away public bandwidth.

You are correct that a Chile can be repeated. The biggest danger comes from some who wear red berets and red shirts.

sonia said...


My hope is that when push comes to shove Chavez will arm the people instead of wimping out like Salvador Allende.

Interesting. You want Chavez to join the NRA ?


criminal stockpiling of foods

All socialist systems lead to 'criminal stockpiling of foods'. This is Economy 101. You want it to stop, stop interfering in economy.

The biggest danger comes from some who wear red berets and red shirts.

Wiser words were never spoken.


he accepted full responsibility, and served prison time for it. When he was released from prison due to popular pressure, he was seen as a hero of the people, and thus opened up the road to his becoming president.

You mean chancellor, not president.

And don't change the subject. This post is about Chavez. Why are you quoting from the biography of Adolph Hitler ?

Leftwing Criminologist said...

All socialist systems lead to 'criminal stockpiling of foods'. This is Economy 101. You want it to stop, stop interfering in economy.
The problem here isn't socialism it's the half-measures that Chavez is taking that mean the vast amount of the Venezualan economy is in the hands of capitalism. The reason stockpiling happens is so that capitalists can make more money from a shortage of food supplies, this is what has happened prior to numerous revolutions or revoultionary situations.

Anyway, back to the real point. I'm glad RCTV has been stopped from broadcasting right-wing crap. However, like pretty much all the nationalisations Chavez has presided over, they have not involved the ordinary workers in these industries being able to take over the running of the companies. This is what should be happening with RCTV, the directors etc. should be sacked and the company put into the hands of a democratically elected committee of the companies workers and members of the wider community.

Craig Bardo said...


Sonia is correct. I won't threadjack. I'll wait till you post on food prices. But do want to put a stake in the ground for you korova and leftwing (g, trout, et al).

Nationalizing food will never, ever, ever work no matter how it is implemented - people will starve!

beatroot said...

I find this obsession with Chavez – from both sides – strange. The right seems to think he is the devil incarnate, the left thinks he is some great hero.

I understand the left getting behind him, cause they are desperate for heroes now that the old socialism is a do-do. So anyone will do – even a south American populist like Chavez.

And the other side of the coin is the right’s obsession with him. Again, they have found a hate figure that isn’t a Muslim.

So Chavez is useful in our post-ideological age.

As far as his politics goes – giving cheap oil to the ‘poor’ in London is just a joke and tokenism of the most laughable kind.

As for closing the TV station: I reckon he hates it cause, being a bit of a megalomaniac, when people are watching it they ain’t watching Him.

But is Chavez particularly interesting or important? Nope, not really.

sonia said...


all the nationalisations Chavez has presided over, they have not involved the ordinary workers in these industries being able to take over the running of the companies.

Exactly! You've nailed it! Instead of real workers (with experience in a given field) running things, the leader's cronies (who probably never worked a day in their lives) always seem to put their dirty paws on the managerial positions and destroy the companies in the process. That's what happened in the Soviet Union (kolchozes were run by Communist party hacks, not by former serfs). And that's what happened in Zimbabwe when white farms were expropriated (they were given to Mugabe's friends who never even saw a tractor in their lives, instead of being given to experienced black farmers).

Now ask yourself why. And the answer is obvious. Chavez (like Lenin and Mugabe before him) don't want experienced workers in charge. Run properly, those companies could become prosperous and independent of central's government control. By putting incompetent (but loyal) cronies in charge, Chavez makes sure these companies can barely function, and the poor people remain poor and thus dependent on the government to survive.

troutsky said...

I would like leftwingcriminologist to cite source for his "not involved ordinary workers" statement.Has he personally witnessed this?

CB: Does hunger occur under capitalism?

licensing renewal should not be a responsibility for a politician and Venezuelan law should be reformed.In the spirit of reconciliation Chavez has let many involved in coup go unprosecuted.Viva la revolution!

Brian said...

"Venezuelan law made before Chavez took power, gave the executive branch, total control over public airways."

According to Venezuelan law, it is apparently legal for the president to shut down stations that criticize him. Ok, so this is a legal assault on free speech. Sorry if I'm not reassured.

Brian said...

Also don't you see a tiny bit of irony in defending Chavez's assault against RCTV's free speech in Venezuela simply because "he can" while at the same time arguing for the free speech rights of bloggers in Pakistan?

korova said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
korova said...

According to Venezuelan law, it is apparently legal for the president to shut down stations that criticize him.

And that support a coup against him.

As for all this crap about free speech. Most of the media in Venezuela is highly critical of Chavez. It's not like the opposition don't have a voice. On the contrary, they have the dominant voice. To be quite frank, if a broadcaster actively supports a coup against a democratic government, it deserves shutting down. I am amazed that Chavez had the grace to allow it to continue broadcasting for five years after their traitorous act.

Again, contemplate the BBC or CNN actively involved in a coup against Blair or Bush. I would suggest that the right would be more than happy to stick the boot into them. I could never imagine that they would just shrug their shoulders and say 'Ah well, freedom of speech etc etc'.

Furthermore, Bush wanted to bomb Al Jazeera, is that not a freedom of speech issue? Revoking a license is nothing compared to the mass murder of journalists.

Aaron A. said...

Furthermore, Bush wanted to bomb Al Jazeera, is that not a freedom of speech issue? Revoking a license is nothing compared to the mass murder of journalists.

Exactly what I was thinking.

Also on that diverge, the US military is on a push to restrict Iraqi journalists from reporting on suicide bombings. They don't want "to broadcast insurgent 'successes'" and they don't want anything close to free speech or global awareness of the failure in Iraq.

I don't know of too many developing nations that have free speech. (I am still waiting for the administration to criticize the Saudi royal family.)

Yet this is the worst they can dig up about Chavez?

Frank Partisan said...

Brian: Even amongst the opposition marching in support of RCTV, understand it is not a free speech issue. See: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised on YouTube. It is not being closed, but taken off the public airways. The main issue is their active part in the coup of 2002, telling the Venezuelan masses that Chavez stepped down, rather than he was imprisoned. They refused to cover the coup being defeated. The issue is behavior, not speech. I hope you'll watch the video.

Larry: A Chile like situation is a real issue, particularly the police and parts of the army of questionable loyalty.

Craig: I know you never hijack a thread on purpose. I realize you have so much to say, it's hard for you to hold it in. The irony is at times I disagree with our mutual acquiantance Jae more than you. The food shortage issue has to do with hoarding, and sabotage, not socialism.

beatroot: I wish I knew how you picked up the end of right/left type ideas. Postmodernism?

Sonia: I was disappointed with that Hitler remark. I have been against the left misusing the word fascist. I see it is a rightist problem. At one left blog Chavez was called Stalinist without evidence, now all of sudden Chavez is Hitlerite.

The word I get is Chavez will punish those who are hoarding food to sabotage the economy. Hoarding food is a Venezuelan tradition, that Chavez is going to stop soon.

Criminologist: The workers control comment was complimented by Sonia. It is an extreme left and extreme right opinion. The Venezuelan constitution guarantees private property rights. I expect constitutional changes. Revolution can't be made by decree. With the formation of the new socialist party Chavez is starting, will come a new constitution in time.

Korova: I agree.

Troutsky: Good to see you back.

Aaron: My friends have talked of visiting Fargo.

Anonymous said...

So if a television station doesn't support the government, it shouldn't have a broadcasting license, is that right? Amy Goodman, "Democracy Now" is toast! How dare there be complaints about a democratically elected Bush Administration.

Anonymous said...

The democractic party tried to execute a coup in Florida against Bush in 2000, and tried to incite another one against him in Ohio in 2004. This is just tooooooooo rich! It's time Ted Turner & CNN lost their FCC license!

Some people will try and justify anything, even the enslavement of 20 million Venezuelans if it suits their political agenda.

Brian said...

This obfuscation and rationalization doesn't change anything. If the channel committed criminal acts, punish them via the criminal courts. Why wouldn't Chavez want to punish these alleged criminals?

Craig Bardo said...

Free speech is a halmark of the American republic. All sides have the opportunity to be seen, heard or read. I may not like what I hear on CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS or NPR, but I can listen to talk radio that is the exclusive domain of real broadcast journalism in America. I may use the NYT, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle and LA Times as toilet paper (their collective highest use) but I can also read National Review, The Wall Street Journal's Opinion Journal, American Enterprise Institute, The Weekly Standard, The American Thinker and others.

A free press is not common to oil rich 3rd world nations where coups are the most consistent form of governance. So should Venezuela be judged by an American standard (even though our system is roundly criticized by domestic consumers from all perspectives)? Perhaps not. Can the dictatorship's actions with regard to RCTV be justfied nonetheless? No.

In the US, Democrat politicians have tried to resurrect "The Fairness Doctrine" to try to quell the success of talk radio which is largely conservative. Even though they are in power, the political will isn't there to get this done. There is an active political opposition. Venezuela, having been intimidated into a thugocracy, has no effective policital opposition to protect minority views.

Some here have suggested that Chavez is not smart enough to "go all the way" so to speak. Why not shut down opposition, why not nationalize everything? Don't worry, even if incrementally, tragically, it's coming.

John Brown said...

I've been away a while, Renegade! Hope all is well.

Part of the problem, here on Sam's Plantation, is that we have become so accustomed to a corporate, embedded media sucking at the teat of government that we have no comprehension of either a legitimate opposition press or for the venom RCTV showed towards the democratically elected government of Venezuela as the coup approached. For us - in the land of a two-party dictatorship - RCTV's behavior and Chavez's response have no analogue.

Furthermore, those who apologize for Uncle Sam's aborted April 2002 coup against the Venezuelan people quite simply refuse to consider that RCTV was instrumental in kidnapping the President and setting the stage for the dictator-for-a-day who dissolved the legislature, dismiss the Supreme Court, and fire the cabinet.

This act - an act of pure treason - implicates RCTV at the highest level. And for that, in my opinion, they deserve 9 oz. of lead to the back of the skull.

Comrade Chavez was more lenient than I.

Incidenally, when the people took to the streets to demand that Uncle Sam's lackey's return Chavez to his rightful post, RCTV did their journalistic duty by... wait for it... showing the movie Pretty Woman on loop!

I remind readers of this fact not for any serious factual reason, but to provide a context for RCTV's hypocritcal "Free Speech" crusade.

Finally, RCTV will be back on the air very soon as a serious network rather than a racist, salacious mouthpiece for ruling-class malcontents (i.e., CNN with soap operas).

John Brown said...

To those wishing Comrade Chavez would implement some more socialism from below, read what he's said/done for the Communal Councils.

This is the modern day equivalent of the Soviet, in my opinion, and he's funded them quite nicely.

Also, the issue of hoarding cannot be resolved until the productive economy itself is built for domestic and not foreign production.

Among the poor, the prices for food has dropped significantly because of the Missions. As more food is produced domestically, hoarding will become less and less relevant.

Food was always a problem for the poor in Venezuela. The people you hear whining about hoarding and shortages are largely the same people sucking down water from a fire-hose tonight after their protest in support of Reactionary Coupster Tele-Vision.

Aaron A. said...


You guys should come sometime. We'll meet up.

Fargo has a wide variety of sporting good stores that often are hard to navigate for non-natives. Got flannel?

liberal white boy said...

I am just hopeful that the Chavez influence will one day be felt in Mexico, another great capitalist success story. Maybe people might actually want to live there. Why is it that Chavez didn't hang(or at least own preference) the RCTV people colluding with those attempting to overthrow a democratically elected government? He sometimes seems to civil for his own good.

Craig Bardo said...

This notion that the U.S. media is compromised because it is corporate owned is another in a long line of leftist bravo sierra.

Over 50% of American households have some form of stock ownership. So not only do we own the companies, we have a say in how they are run through the proxy process. "Workers" interests are further substantially represented through the largest pension funds in the world. Public retirement funds like the $120 billion New York Common Fund, the $170 billion California Public Employees Retirement System, the $100 billion California State Teacher's Retirement System and smaller funds that range only in the 10s of billions of dollars throughout the country, together with the SEIU, Laborer's International, Carpenter's, AFL-CIO, Teamsters and the rest of organized labor which control 100s of billions of dollars invested in these evil corporations - vote their proxies to control corporate action every day.

I have personally been involved with this process with regard to Disney and Safeway Corporation. As an investment manager, I was asked to support the New York Common Fund, the State of Connecticut, the Illinois State Board of Investment and the AFL-CIO in their action to get Safeway in particular to change its actions with regard to Safeway employees. On another instance, I was asked to vote our proxies against a company whose CEO sat on our board. On 5 out of 6 items, we joined the AFL-CIO's position against our director's company.

So not only do the worker's control the means of production through ownership - they effect change in the labor-management relationship through that ownership and benefit from the profit.

The U.S. corporate media charge is a canard that doesn't address what Chavez has done regardless of whether a few pro RCTV supporters like the novelas they show.

Anonymous said...

"Free speech is a halmark of the American republic. All sides have the opportunity to be seen, heard or read."

Spoken like a true North-Korean. If the corporate-friendly CNN, Los Angeles Times and the NYTimes are what you come up with as an example example of "left-wing"journalism in the U.S. then you are undermining your own case.

"Over 50% of American households have some form of stock ownership. So not only do we own the companies, we have a say in how they are run through the proxy process."

And I guess according to you that gives you a say in the editorial line of these media corporations an and on their news reporting. No proverbial investor self-interest involved, no sir. Your owning their stock keeps them fair and balanced. And fairy-tales also come true. Sure.


Craig Bardo said...

It seems you, anonymous, are confusing the popularity of opinion with its availability. What political message is censored or even unavailable? For example, we have this medium. Just google leftism, marxism, collectivism, revolution, whatever term floats your boat and you will be keystrokes away from the like-minded, even if those ideas don't find prevalence in the "corporate" media.

Your complaint is vaccuous and without merit.

Ché Bob said...


"Chavez (like Lenin and Mugabe before him) don't want experienced workers in charge. Run properly, those companies could become prosperous and independent of central's government control. By putting incompetent (but loyal) cronies in charge, Chavez makes sure these companies can barely function, and the poor people remain poor and thus dependent on the government to survive."

Abstracted from any economic reality, dependency is the name of the game. In the U.S. the poor remain poor and dependent on the ruling class just as it is designed. But this makes the problem the ruling class whether its state capitalism or state socialism, not socialism in and of itself. So in a partial way, I agree with Sonia...that is: Chavez, like all rulers and ruling class, presents the truest obstacle to the ideals of classical liberalism.

As far as the RCTV is concerned, Chavez cannot avoid criticism on this one. If he had renewed the license but under the conditions of replacing those running the station he would have faced criticism for hand-picking his opponents. Choosing the path he did, well the criticism is evident.

However, I honestly don't understand why he didn't seek criminal cases against any and all conspirators. This seems to me to be the best way to have dealt with those involved in the coup.

While in Venezuela meeting with PROVEA (Venezuela's main human rights organization) a media specialist expressed serious concerns about some of the measures taken by Chavez involving the media. HOWEVER, when asked if he would vote for Chavez he gave us a resounding "yes!" He felt things could be and had been much worse under the reactionary opposition. All in all, the human rights situation under Chavez was vastly improved, even though it was far from perfect.

Grab a mirror and look at oneself. I'm sure we can all find plenty of work to be done at home...wherever that is.

LeftyHenry said...

Really good article. This is great news despite the way the bourgeois media attempts to portray it.

Ché Bob said...


Your statistics and figures are "awe-inspiring." Thanks for all the empty ideological rhetoric.

Now, let's reconnect with reality! This country has reached a level of disparity in wealth unequaled since 1928...hmmm...that's right before the Great Depression! Eleven million homeless, 47 million uninsured and without a basic human right of medical care. Hell, in a valley of 80,000 people here in Missoula, MT we had 36,000 different people seek assistance from the local food bank!

It's time to get off your ideologically lazy duff and get real. America is a dog-eat-dog world and for all your self-impressive notions about the "worker control" through a ludicrous faith (Marketthink) that consumers/worker-slaves can affect anything through choice needs serious, and perhaps honest-for-the-first-time, analysis!

Faith in the words of your grand messiah, Sam Walton, that "there is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else" is--to borrow your own word--the textbook definition of "vacuous."

The truth is you are defending X's and O's, and neglecting reality.

The media perfectly defends the dominant system and despite your quixotic notions, the masses do not have access to a wide variety of political opinion. Your "keystroke-away" faith is again very convenient as rationale for the absence of truly divergent political, social, cultural and economic opinion within the mainstream. Yep, anyone can go to the nearest library or internet cafe and read to their heart's content about anarchism, socialism, parecon, etc. Problem is we don't learn about any of these things to know to ask about and research these things in the first place. The ideological education is complete and thorough from start to finish.

liberal white boy said...

The U.S. corporate media charge is a butt

cb, allow me to confuse you with some facts.

The Wealth Distribution

In the United States, wealth is highly concentrated in a relatively few hands. As of 2001, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned 33.4% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% (the managerial, professional, and small business stratum) had 51%, which means that just 20% of the people owned a remarkable 84%, leaving only 16% of the wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers). In terms of financial wealth, the top 1% of households had an even greater share: 39.7%.

Now, who do you think controls the corporate media. Even a member of the new delusional Bush cult with its neo-con masters should be able to figure that one out.

sonia said...

Che Bob,

I honestly don't understand why he didn't seek criminal cases against any and all conspirators.

And make martyrs out of them ? Chavez must remember that he himself was put in prison for a coup attempt in 1992 and that sentence only made him MORE popular, not less...

The hypocrisy of condemning the 2002 coup attempt is just too mind boggling to me... The fact that Chavez did EXACTLY THE SAME THING ten years earlier doesn't seem to register with any of you... You just blindly accept the mantra '1992 coup good, 2002 coup bad' and you repeat that mantra like robots....


the top 1% of households (...) owned 33.4% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% (...) had 51%

There are other capitalist countries where the wealth distribution is much more even and fair. It's not the fault of the capitalism itself, but of wrong fiscal policy.

But socialism isn't a solution to this problem. In North Korea, the state owns 100% of the wealth, and 100% of ordinary peoples own 0%. That's far worse...

Craig Bardo said...

Che Bob, LWB and jb,

Although what I wrote about the pension plans may have seemed to be divergent from the topic, it was related to the charge of a corporate media subservient to capitalist/democratic notions here in the states as it relates to RCTV and Venezuela.

Out of respect for Ren's site, I won't challenge/debunk your statements because they go into areas other than where the thread directed, but at the appropriate time...

John Brown said...

No need to debunk, CB: you've convinced me that Uncle Sam's Plantation is an egalitarian paradise in which the workers control all they produce.

Leftwing Criminologist said...

@ troutsky - my info comes from articles i've read and discussion with people who have visited venezuela

@ cb - many people may own shares or have pension funds but that is usually such a little actual ownership of a company compared to a few rich individuals/banks/private equity groups that they in reality have little or no say over how it is run.

@ sonia

xactly! You've nailed it! Instead of real workers (with experience in a given field) running things, the leader's cronies (who probably never worked a day in their lives) always seem to put their dirty paws on the managerial positions and destroy the companies in the process.

- sounds like George W Bush!

That's what happened in the Soviet Union (kolchozes were run by Communist party hacks, not by former serfs). - under Stalin and those after him, yes
And that's what happened in Zimbabwe when white farms were expropriated (they were given to Mugabe's friends who never even saw a tractor in their lives, instead of being given to experienced black farmers).

Now ask yourself why. And the answer is obvious. Chavez (like Lenin and Mugabe before him) don't want experienced workers in charge.

- wouldn't include Lenin in this category myself

Run properly, those companies could become prosperous and independent of central's government control. By putting incompetent (but loyal) cronies in charge, Chavez makes sure these companies can barely function, and the poor people remain poor and thus dependent on the government to survive.

- not sure i'd necessarily want them not to be organised centrally (by the workers themselves co=ordinating with each other). i'd argue that they also need some imput of the rest of the population as well (as their needs have to be met). in regards to tv, if RCTV was run like this, then for example the mass of the population would still be able to watch soaps that they're angry the can't watch anymore.
As for Chavez wishing to retain control, I think you're right, and i think that is one of his aims with the creation of the unified socialist party is to move towards a single party state. I think this is due to Cuba and it's two way effect on latin america on the one hand showing that there is an alternative to the neo-liberal capitalism that has made life there hell, but on the other hand has a model that is bureaucratic and as such fails to meet the needs of ordinary cubans. Chavez is similar in that he is putting forward nationalisations that are slightly reducing the exploitation of the venezuelan people, although he wishes to have an almost exclusive hold on power and bestow these reforms from above. it's not that Chavez is too timid but that an independent workers movement is needed to raise the awareness/consciousness of ordinary venezuelan workers that this is possible and acheivable for such things as the tv netwrks to be under the democratic control of the workers and the wider venezuelan population.

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Anonymous said...

Now Chavez is closing down the OTHER TV Station, Globovision on charges that they are inciting assassination attempts.

This can't be excused and isn't coincidence. Hugo Chavez is a dictator, and Venezuela is a dictatorship.

And you "progressive" bloggers are nothing but APOLOGISTS for a dictator. Face facts, every day you simply help a dictator ENSLAVE innocent Venezuelan people.

USEFUL IDIOTS is too kind a term for what you do. Stalin had his apologists, and YOU are just as bad!

Ché Bob said...

Farmer John,

Where's the fire?

No one here is apologizing for Stalin. And, so far, no has any reason to apologize for Chavez, unless we should be upset that he is helping the majority of the population get basic needs they've NEVER enjoyed in an oil-rich nation.

Brian said...

I beg to differ with Farmer John. Chavez is targetting Globovision via the courts, which is what he should've done with RCTV if they were actually guilty of anything criminal.

Brian said...

I really wonder if your readers are as lacking in the reading comprehension area. I'll try to say this as clearly as I can (yet again).

The strongman arbitrarily deciding to take this channel off the air because he doesn't like it is not the way things should be done. If RCTV did indeed support the coup against Chavez, they should be prosecuted for it in the courts. If this station is really a bunch of traitors, y'all should be attacking Chavez for letting these guys slide. This exposes the emptiness of the argument.

Frank Partisan said...

Brian: I thought about your comment; why not punish them in criminal courts? I don't disagree. Still RCTV can be seen on cable or satellite. Review the behavior of RCTV during the coup. Is that protected speech?

John Brown: Welcome back. You picked a good time to return.

berty: Welcome. Read the article I posted, and see the part about the Democrats threatening the license of Sinclair Broadcasting.

The show Democracy Now is radical. It never strays from legal speech. It is less radical than given credit for. It is friendly to Democrats.

liberal white boy: Welcome. Tomorrow I will link to your blog.

Farmer: Thank you for bringing such an intelligent dimension to the debate, Who said I was a progressive blogger? During the Chavez years, the ONLY TV stations to be shut down in Venezuela were Canal 8 (state TV) and Catia TV (a community station) - were these shut down by the Chavez government? No - they were shut down by the opposition during their brief 2002 coup.

Sonia: North Korea is an extreme Stalinist state, actually moving toward more personal wealth to the top, as it transforms into the China model. What has that got to do with the price of eggs in China?

I think the people on this blog from the left, from varying political theories, I don't think one of them support the coup model for changing government. By your logic, if you agree with who is in power after the coup, it is ok. If Chavez's coup is wrong, shouldn't the 2002 coup be equally wrong, no matter what the beliefs of the participants?

Criminologist: The Bolivarian revolution is more from below than you acknowledge. The neighborhood groups have hundreds of people at their meetings, planning housing, schooling etc.

Actually in Venezuela, there is still remnants of the oligarchy in high positions, not Chavez's actual supporters. The problem of who will take the best jobs will be addressed, to not have Mugabe cronyism.

It is voluntary if ne wants to join the new socialist party. Some parties in power didn't, including the Communist Party. It is not the Cuban model. That remark is nonsense, considering Chavez has been involved with some eleven elections. Venezuelans are a threat to the Cuban model.

Che Bob: Thank you for your insights.

Troutsky: I'm glad you're back blogging.

CB: I don't think in the US, even Fox News, or any mainstream media, have ever behaved as RCTV. It is a behavior issue, not speech.

If you are using your stock options for trying to change corporate practices, more power to you. I'm not sure how effective that would be. I'm not going to argue.

Frank Partisan said...

Addendum: I wrote the above post about 4AM. I didn't want to forget Henry.

Left Henry: Get back to blogging soon.

Craig Bardo said...


I'm telling you that it works. Look at yesterday's WSJ. The Blackstone Group, a private equity firm, had to add to it's list of threats, activism from Labor Unions.

Although the threat from unions is threefold, their biggest threat is working with Democrats in Congress, who are their traditional allies, to get the tax status of the funds changed. Private equity firms create partnerships, where the firm is the general (managing) partner and investors (usually large public and Taft-Hartley [union] retirement plans) are limited partners. They amass enough commitment from these large funds to take over (buyout, using a combination of cash and leverage) inefficiently managed publicly traded companies. Once they are running profitably (or moreso) they sell them to another private equity firm or take them public again to recoup their initial investment as well as a handsome profit.

Tom Lantos D-CA is threatening to propose legislation that would tax these partnerships as corporations, which would be a huge potential hit to the return on investment.

Notwithstanding the hypocrisy of the Unions who are among the biggest investors in these funds, why are unions so concerned? They say that the buyout of publicly traded firms by private equity funds will threaten workers jobs. In case you didn't understand from my comment up-thread, these actions are powerfully representing the concerns of "workers" and are effecting change.

High profile changes have been made at Ford, Disney, GM, Safeway and Cintas. Changes at other lesser well known companies have taken place too.

Publicly held media companies are no different and are not impervious to investor action. Privately held media firms can feel the heat too, i.e. Rupert Murdoch's bid for Dow Jones Company, the privately held publisher of the Wall Street Journal.

Agnes said...

Ren, two things to this (otherwise a very good post): what happens with the separation of powers in the state? Does that TV station stand for authority or power?

And the second would be the legal basis you mention (i.e. the lack of it): and that seems worrying.

John Brown said...

Just as they do here on Uncle Sam's plantation, the airwaves in Venezuela belong first and foremost to the people of Venezuela.

RCTV (or Venevision) called for and facilitated Uncle Sam's campaign to violently overthrow the democratically elected government of Venezuela by kidnapping and ultimately executing Comrade Chavez.

And were it not for the steadfast will of the Venezuelan people, they would have succeeded.

In a matter of hours after his kidnapping, Uncle Sam's lackeys replaced Chavez with a hand-picked dictator whose first acts were the dissolution of the legislature, closing down the judiciary, and firing the cabinet.

The Venezuelan government would have been perfectly justified to execute anyone participating in this plot for treason.

Instead, Chavez and his government patiently did what needed to be done... by the book.

Ignorant or unconcerned with history, lots of people here on Uncle Sam's Plantation (the source of most anti-Venezuelan propaganda) whine that only 95% of Venezuelan media is privately controlled by forces hostile to Chavez.

These are the same clowns who call Chavez - winner of about 300 elections over the last decade - a dictator.

Proof doesn't matter. Facts be damned! Chavez is illegitimate and Boy George is God.

Lest we forget that here on Uncle Sam's Plantation, the FCC has the power to revoke licenses and shut down media in the same way as they do in Venezuela and elsewhere.

It really becomes a question of how you use that power.

In Venezuela, they use it to go after those people who participated in a coup.

But here on Uncle Sam's Plantation, it's used in other ways. Since every corporation on the airwaves serves as an appendage of and shill for Uncle Sam's terrorist behavior, there's no need, interest, or desire to shut them down.

The networks do the government's bidding. The nonsense, lies, and bullshit propaganda they shovel to us daily is far more useful to the government than anything state media has EVER delivered.

Because you preserve the guise of independent journalism.

And on top of that, you've got lemmings like CB crowing on about how stockholders affect editorial policy.

It's all so very, very convenient, isn't it?

So here on the plantation, the FCC instead busies itself with shutting down locally owned and operated community radio stations.

John Brown said...

So, CB:

Big fan of Hedge Funds, are ya?

If it weren't for them awful, elitist unions getting in the way of those egalitarian hedge funds, the world would be so much better.

After all, hedge funds care only for the greater good of the population at large.

Leftwing Criminologist said...

@ Renegade Eye
The Bolivarian revolution is more from below than you acknowledge. The neighborhood groups have hundreds of people at their meetings, planning housing, schooling etc.

I know that the neighbourhood groups (also called the bolivaran circles??) draw a large number of people into them, but this is mainly in Caracas and a few other larger towns, but these are basically transmission circles for Chavez rather than being capable of holding him to account. If they were able to do this, then they could form a crucial part of running what's left of RCTV in conjunction with the workers there. What is true however, is that by talking about socialism and Trotsky etc. Chavez has started a lot of discussion in Venezuelan society about these issues

Actually in Venezuela, there is still remnants of the oligarchy in high positions, not Chavez's actual supporters. The problem of who will take the best jobs will be addressed, to not have Mugabe cronyism.

I agree with you that the oligarchy are in positions of power, they own most of the non-internationally owned industry. The problem is that when Chavez nationalises things workers are not taking control of production, instead joint management committees that don't give the workers there real control are being set up, and where workers have taken over actual control it's because the owners have fled the country.

It is voluntary if ne wants to join the new socialist party. Some parties in power didn't, including the Communist Party. It is not the Cuban model. That remark is nonsense, considering Chavez has been involved with some eleven elections. Venezuelans are a threat to the Cuban model.

Yes but Chavez has been threatening groups that don't join and it seems to be built from the top down, rather than from the bottom up
Hope a lot that he doesn't go down the Cuban path and it's a way off, but the possibility is there without a mass revolutionary working class party.
I agree too though that Venezuela is a threat to the Cuban model, and has probably kept the leaders of the Cuban CP from moving further towards capitalism as Venezuelan trade has probably helped stabilise their economy.

? said...

I thought freedom of speech had been a formal right in Venezuela for ages. Think am wrong. I think the monopoly is the issue. Hopefully it "will" become reality.

sonia said...

Leftwing Criminologist,

I agree too though that Venezuela is a threat to the Cuban model, and has probably kept the leaders of the Cuban CP from moving further towards capitalism as Venezuelan trade has probably helped stabilise their economy.

I have the impression you're not talking about the same 'Cuban model'... There were several 'Cuban models' over the years...

Venezuela isn't a threat to the traditional Cuban model (the one that existed before 1991). In fact, Venezuela is slowly assuming the 'suggar daddy' role (previously held by the Soviet Union) in that 'John-whore' model that allowed Cuban economy to survive until then. There was nothing Communist about THAT model.
But not to worry, if Venezuela continues with its 'Bolivarian' sepukku, it will eventually collapse just like Soviet Union did in 1991.

But before that happens, Venezuela might be a threat to the newer 'Cuban model', where 90% of the Cuban economy comes from capitalist profits of the tourist industry run by Spanish and Mexican capitalist experts in the trade, and the Cubans provide the labor that changes the bed sheets of Canadian tourists. This is hardly a Communist model neither, but at least it's a stable one and might run forever (unless Canadians decide it might be fun to try Communism/Bolivarism as well - but that's unlikely).

So far, the only effect Venezuela seem to have on Cuba is causing a shortage of doctors there...

And read this article about the growing repression and totalitarian brutality under Chavez.

John Brown said...


I can think of no better place for honest news about Cuba than in the New York Times. Luckily, that paper

Despite Uncle Sam's relentless 45 years assault on Cuba for the crime of pursuing its own development, they still have a FAR, FAR BETTER health care system than we do here on Uncle Sam's Plantation.

Funny the NY Times doesn't mention that.

And as far as the "growing repression and totalitarianism" in Venezuela, need I remind you that Apartheid Israel fires far worse than water at Palestinians every day, yet you give your deep-throated support for their genocidal policies of ethnic cleansing.

Why do you remain silent when Apartheid Israel shoots unarmed demonstrators protesting the construction of an Apartheid Wall but you throw a tizzy when the Venezuelan government - who's also beating back Uncle Sam's war machine - uses far less severe tactics.

One more thing: how many foreign countries has Chavez attacked on false pretenses? How many tons of nuclear weapons has he used? How many chemical weapons has he dropped on Colombian peasants?

Perhaps you should center yourself more on the ghastly crimes committed right here by a government for whom YOU VOTED rather than thoughtlessly accepting Uncle Sam's propaganda about others.

John Brown said...

Of course Sonia, who loves genocide, does not mention that the protesters charged police in an effort to storm a government building before the police responded.

Then again, why is that relevant, right?

Gee... I wonder where the student groups get their funding?

troutsky said...

At least the media situation is honestly portrayed in Venezuela as partisan or opposition, unlike the hollow pretense of "balance" we see in the US. Check out the dress, sunglasses and skin color of the opposition students. The also have no pretenses about class and race.

Chavez should re-instate RCTV and forget the idea you can change the hearts and minds of the elite.

CB, the liberal dream that the workers can exercise corporate control through stock ownership is touching.We can all become Partners in the Great Expansion! The fantasy does not comport with the reality of diminished real wages despite increased productivity. Look at the dispersion of stock ownership, in percentages,throughout that "50%" of Americans.

Craig Bardo said...


You and trout need to back away from the crack pipe!

Cuban healthcare better than the U.S.!!! ROFLMAO


You need to read the CBO's most recent report! The CBO has never been a fan of any Republican administration, they have always wanted to score tax cuts statically as opposed to properly scoring them dynamically (until they just have to give out of embarrasement) and now this most recent report.

Drum roll...real wages are up, accounting for productivity increases. Don't take my word for it, go to their site, read it and weep!

We poor Americans, even our poor live better than most Europeans.

John Brown said...

From Uncle Sam's Propaganda Ministry (CNN BRANCH): An estimated 2 million babies die within their first 24 hours each year worldwide and the United States has the second worst newborn mortality rate in the developed world, according to a new report.

American babies are three times more likely to die in their first month as children born in Japan, and newborn mortality is 2.5 times higher in the United States than in Finland, Iceland or Norway, Save the Children researchers found.

Only Latvia, with six deaths per 1,000 live births, has a higher death rate for newborns than the United States, which is tied near the bottom of industrialized nations with Hungary, Malta, Poland and Slovakia with five deaths per 1,000 births.

John Brown said...

Cuba exports doctors to the world.

Uncle Sam exports death, destruction and genocide.

Which do you support, CB?

sonia said...

John Brown,

Why do you remain silent when Apartheid Israel shoots unarmed demonstrators protesting the construction of an Apartheid Wall but you throw a tizzy when the Venezuelan government - who's also beating back Uncle Sam's war machine - uses far less severe tactics.

There is only one reason. A billion Muslims and millions of Western leftists already condemn (excessively, in my opinion) every Israeli action.

But not a single Muslim or leftist dares to condemn Chavez. So I have to do it.

ghastly crimes committed right here by a government for whom YOU VOTED rather than thoughtlessly accepting Uncle Sam's propaganda about others.

I never voted in an American election. I am not a US citizen, and I don't live in the USA.


Check out the dress, sunglasses and skin color of the opposition students.

Are you suggesting that Chavez is a genocidal racist who is trying to exterminate white people in Venezuela ? Are you saying there is a racial motivation behind the repression in Venezuela ? Interesting.

Personally, I don't think the Venezuelan students are repressed and beaten because they are white. But I could be wrong.

John Brown said...

So Sonia, does your silence mean that you support Apartheid Israel's attacks on Palestinian media and their genocide of the Palestinian people on a daily basis?

Or do you oppose it, but don't want to say too much because so many people hate Apartheid Israel (excepting, one must assume, the $5,000,000,000 in aid the Apartheid State gets from Uncle Sam every year)?

Interested in your response.

Craig Bardo said...

Arpartheid Israel! LOL


I don't feel so bad now for straying a bit! LOL

Larry Gambone said...

If "white students" were demonstrating in favor of the US corporate state's Venezuelan TV mouthpiece, it says more about the race-class nature of that society. In Latin America the ruling classes tend to be of more or less pure European origin. The lower classes of Black and Aboriginal ancestry. Enough whining about the Chavistas from liberals and reactionaries, please. After centuries of class and race war against the brown-skinned proletarians by the white exploiters, the brown skins are fighting back. Good for them. Let's support them!

Larry Gambone said...

"even our poor live better than most Europeans."

Absolute total horseshit, that even a slight acquaintance with vital statistics can disprove. It really amazes me how arrogant, ignorant and stupid some of you Gringos can get.

sonia said...

John Brown,

does your silence mean that you support (...) Israel's attacks on Palestinian... Or do you oppose it, but don't want to say too much because so many people hate (...) Israel

The latter. And there is another reason why I prefer the Israelis to the Arabs - 20% of Israeli citizens are Muslims, while 0% of Arab countries's citizens are Jewish. Arab countries are etnically cleansed of Jews. Israel is a multicultural society. So the word apartheid applies far better to Syria or Libya than to Israel...

Frank Partisan said...

Chavez's opposition being in a frenzy is a YAWN. Soon the rock throwers will be back playing pool.

This is more important than the RCTV issue.

Anonymous said...

...that must be why all these Venezuelans in the picture were celebrating in the streets yesterday, retail sales are up! So the whole thing has blown over...right, Ren??? LOL!

Chavez will soon be facing a brick wall smoking his last cigarette, as he so richly deserves.

Anonymous said...

Ooops. the picture...

There's also some other very fine reading there... so you might just want to read the whole thing. ;)

Anonymous said...

He's only got 182 protestors in jail right now. I'm sure there's room for plenty more.

...and please tell us another fairy tale about the coup of 2002, ren. That way, we can talk about the coup of '92, and it's failure due to Chavez's inability to capture the television stations back in the day BEFORE a became such a good democrat, as john brown suggests...

Anonymous said...

Any more "rationalizations" from Hugo's apologists about why it's a good thing for the government to control all a nantions media outlets. Cuz I can't wait until our government comes for yours. Goodnight Indy Media... welcome PBS!

Frank Partisan said...

Farmer: I'm told this weekend we'll see real demonstrations in Venezuela. These will be the supporters of punishing a TV station for advocating violence in the streets. Last weeks demonstrations were mostly the same gang that goes crazy about everything Chavez does.

The vast, vast, vast majority of the media in Venezuela is privately owned and in opposition to Chavez. The government doesn't control all the media outlets.

Peru and Uruguay have taken the public bandwidth of stations. Where were you? From the Venezuelan blogs, they see this as a ho hum issue, for foreign consumption.

As for the rock throwers in jail. I guess they were wrong if they thought it was 2002 over again.

I wouldn't support the tactics of Chavez in 1992, even agreeing with the goals. Both 1992 and 2002 are wrong ways to change society. A coup is not a revolution.

Farmer: Was the 2002 coup, a good way to change society? The coup plotters abolished the parlimentary bodies and Supreme Court. You think that is right?

Criminologist: I will in the future post about workers control in Venezuela.

Brian: In Venezuela the law says it's illegal on public band to advocate violence against the government.

John Brown said...

Uncle Sam's way ahead of you, FJ: they've been stealing IMC servers and shuting down independent radio stations for years now.

Furthermore, when you've got a system of propaganda like Sam does, who cares?

While I really am weeping for Vanilla Sam's brick-throwing Sumate Revolutionaries, perhaps we should focus a bit more of our attention to the 3,000,000 people locked up in Uncle Sam's concentration camps - many of whom are there on the word of lying Pigs and opportunistic government snitches.

Funny how you're not crying for (or talking about) them. Nope - for you, it's all Chavez all the time.

Nothing to see here on Sam's Plantation! Everyone is a happy Sambo!

John Brown said...

0% of the media under opposition control.... 95% of the media under opposition control...

Why worry about the facts when a few latte-drinking Sumate Revolutionaries are having another temper-tantrum!

Craig Bardo said...

Chavez is no revolutionary as Trotsky would define, he is just another thug ruling by force (not that there is any distinction between that and any communist ruler). Yet, he is being supported by this thread's leftists.

I don't see him arming civilians, he has established a bureaucratic elite, but he has nationalized the oil industry and put in place a few price controls.

He hasn't reduced the work week, invested in industry to grow the economy, called for permanent revolution and the elimination of bureaucracy. Yet, Trotskyists are his apologists on this thread?

Venezuela's economy couldn't be called "developed" in the sense that Marx/Trotsky saw to be necessary for success. But the leftists are breathless in their defense of his actions.

If the premise for supporting Trotsky's positions is because he said the Bolshevik revolution was flawed and he predicted the demise of the Soviet Union - oh I almost forgot about Chavez's worker's councils or soviets - based on those flaws, why is the left so giddy and excited? Would Trotsky have been?

So, not only has there been a miserable record of execution (I'm giving you extreme benefit of the doubt for arguements sake) and no answer for how unnatural this system is in that it does't account for human nature (save some psychobabble about capitalist sabbotage and hoarding), it's theorist/supporters are way out of line and intellectually dishonest in supporting what is happening in Venezuela.

I'm being charitable in that assessment.

Because you haven't been intellectually honest and have failed to identify the flaws and are still supportive of Chavez's thugocracy and based on all of your statements in this thread, I'm left to conclude that you are all either severely envious, insecure and are looking for equality of outcome instead of equality of opportunity (but not honest enough to say that not everyone wants the same things).

Yet you whine about a generalized notion of capitalism, which you all conclude is anything that is not revolutionary, without acknowledging that it works or understanding why some things you describe as capitalist truly aren't.

I could go on but this is a good place to stop.

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine "why" the opposition felt a need to dismiss parliament in 2002, since when Chavez got elected in '99, he immediately did the same thing and WORSE, locked out parliament, REWROTE THE CONSTITION and FIRED MOST OF THE JUDICIARY.

(from Wiki): Responding to the stalling of his legislation in the National Assembly, Chávez scheduled two national elections for July 1999, including a referendum for and elections to fill a new constitutional assembly. The Constitutional Assembly was created when the referendum passed with a 72% "yes" vote, while the pro-Chávez Polo Patriotico ("Patriotic Pole") won 95% (120 out of the total 131) of its seats. In August 1999, the Constitutional Assembly's "Judicial Emergency Committee" declared a "legislative emergency" whereby a seven-member committee conducted the National Assembly's functions; meanwhile, the National Assembly was prohibited from holding meetings. The Constitutional Assembly drafted the 1999 Venezuelan Constitution, which included an increase in the presidential term from five to six years, a new presidential two-term limit, a new provision for presidential recall elections, renaming of the country to República Bolivariana de Venezuela, expanded presidential powers, conversion of the bicameral National Assembly into a unicameral legislature, merit-based appointments of judges, and creation of the Public Defender, an office authorized to regulate the activities of the presidency and the National Assembly.

Now imagine that if tomorrow Bush dissolved Congress and called for a "Constitutional Convention", stacked it with Republicans, and then rewrote the US Constitution, giving himn "imperial powers". Meanwhile, he locked the current Congress out of the buildings. Think there would be much "opposition press"?

What are yesterday's charges against Globovision? They showed pictures of a 1980's assasination attempt of the Pope during an historical summary of RCTA's broadcasting era. That's it.

Chavez is paranoid with good reason... CHAVEZ is a DICTATOR. And YOU ARE HIS APOLOGIST!

Anonymous said...

erratum RCTV above. Showing pictures of an attempt against the Pope is the same as calling for the assassination of Chavez. THAT is why the people are still rioting and THAT is why this WILL NOT GO AWAY.

John Brown said...

Sorry to burst your bubble, CB, but you're quite simply uninformed here. The Venezuelan government has begun arming and training the population in the barrios.

The government has founded the Communal Councils to function as modern-day Soviets and instituted the Missions which have brought healthcare to people who never really had it and caused the price of basic foodstuffs to drop enormously in the poorest communities.

He has opened many, many universities, instituting an OPEN ADMISSION policy so everyone can take advantage of it (something Uncle Sam felt too dangerous in the 1970s, because his goal has always been to keep the population ignorant).

His government has raised wages with regularity, broken Venezuela's tie to the imperialist IMF, and served as South America's creditor at 0% interest.

Chavez inspirated the UNT, a radical socialist union, and has given nothing but support for the workers takeover of factories and unused land.

Perhaps the reason he has followed such a path is his appreciation of and public discussion about Trotsky's Transitional Programme (i.e., Permanent Revolution).

This is not to say Chavez is flawless. However, faced with what he's had to confront - namely coup-plotters at home and abroad - he's done quite nicely.

Based on his writings, Trotsky would have no-doubt appreciated what Chavez has done.

After all, he knew first-hand how difficult it is to resist an imperialist onslaught at home and abroad.

Finally, your unsupported adulation for capitalism - an economic system that produces vast disparities and wealth, dehumanizes all of humanity, and rapes the world for privatized plunder - carries no truck.

Capitalism was built on the backs of slavery, the theft of land from Europe's peasantry, and the mass murder of European women during the witch trials.

Since then, it has systematically exploited the whole world, enriching a tiny sliver of war whores, stock-jobbers, gangsters, and thieves and reducing billions to a life of destitution and utter squalor.

Anonymous said...

The government has ... instituted the Missions which have brought healthcare to people who never really had it and caused the price of basic foodstuffs to drop enormously in the poorest communities.

What a cruel, cruel joke, john brown. You mean they've "shut down the Missionaries". You know the type, Doctors who bring modern medicine and technologies to the most remote parts of the jungle. Why? They were "Americans" and "Europeans" who could not be "trusted". You should all visit jungle moms website. She and her husband lived in the Venezuelan jungle for more than 15 years and raised all their kids there. Now they're awaiting imminent deportation. Meanwhile, in quite a number of the communities, there have been deaths due to their absence, and the transportation/ evacuation services they provided are now non-existent.

Yes, the "Cubans" have supplied thousands of new medical technicians, but they are very poorly trained and lack modern equipment. In many cases, they are less equipped to handle the types of cases presented to them for the climate is much different in the rainforest.

And as for food for the poor, almost all foodstuffs and staples have disappeared from the stores. Yes, prices are regulated and low, but they're being regulated so severly that all the food is now appearing at MUCH HIGHER cost on the black market. Like the old USSR, things are cheap, officially, but there is nothing on the shelves. The prices the producers are required to sell at are lower than the cost to produce the items. Farm collectivation cannot be far behind, for under such circumstances, even land re-distribution is inadequate. What private farmer can sell his crops for less than it cost him to grow them?

So keep telling them nothing but the good news, john brown. Walter Duranty would be damn proud of you!

Anonymous said...

By the way, if you're one of the over 3 million Venezualan citizens who signed the list to recall me/Chavez a few years back, you won't get into the university... and neither will your kids or family members. Open Admissions. That's REAL funny!

And don't bother applying for civil service or any public sector job, either. We will check the list for your name. We published it on the internet just so everyone could see who you were... a traitor.... a wrecker... a kulak!

We practice SOCIAL JUSTICE here. Not that silly individual/trial by jury crap you have in the USA. If I say you are a traitor and coup plotter, then THAT is what you are!

SecondComingOfBast said...

HaHaHaHa-Hey, Hugo, good to see a world famous celebrity politician here on Ren's blog. You ought to actually do blog posts now that you started that blogger account. Teach us all the "wisdom" of the Venezuelan model.

Frank Partisan said...

First of all I want to thank everyone for such a good discussion.

CB: I enjoyed yout Trotsky comment.

Chavez is not Trotsky, but he is building a society that could go in a direction that would please Trotsky.

Chavez openly reads Trotsky. With all the anti-Stalinist reform that occured in Russia, Trotsky was never vindicated there. Bukharin was posthumously given back his Communist Party membership. I think you'd agree he was the foremost revolutionary in history.

Trotsky would probably have more advice than Chavez would probably want to hear. He'd know he'd better listen to every word.

Neighborhood groups are making decisions about schooling, healthcare etc. You don't have to be pro-Chavez to participate.

There are many layers of government in Venezuela. Just like in the US, there are city, county and state governments. Not only are they entrenched, they oppose Chavez. At the same time the population is becoming a political force for itself.

Trotsky would tell him to destroy the old order. You don't want to be like Allende. If Chavez was assasinated, every US embassy in Latin America would burn, and the oligarchy would be destroyed.

He has been subjected to election after election. His opposition on the right are loud, but completely isolated. They didn't even run candidates for parliment.

Farmer: If Chavez was executed, that would be the last of your friends. They are hated to begin with. Atleast you don't pretend to be for democracy. I'm glad you exposed yourself.

In addition Farmer, the RCTV issue will go away. It is a for the foreign press issue. I'm told an anti-RCTV demo will be Saturday. Your friends will then go back to playing pool.

The bottom line is that your comrades are not a serious political force in Venezuela, except as saboteurs. You are trying to repeat 2002, but you have no support.

Hugo: I appreciate your post for bringing up so much to talk about.

How dare you put a swatztika with Chavez? Where are the concentration camps and ovens in Venezuela? At my blog I never called anyone except Saddam Hitlerite. Since Chavez is Afro-Venezuelan and Indian, Hitler would probably side with Hispanic oligarchy.

To be an apologist, means you apologize. I never apologized for anything.

Please post more about your jungle friend.

Nobody was fired or blacklisted for signing anti-Chavez petitions. It is hard to fire anyone in Venezuela. Civil service is civil service. Where do you get your news? RCTV!

The 1999 events are in line with the new constitution that was voted on and approved by the majority of Venezuelans.

Pagan: I think he is an imposter.

sonia said...


Neighborhood groups are making decisions about schooling, healthcare etc. You don't have to be pro-Chavez to participate.

Nobody was fired or blacklisted for signing anti-Chavez petitions.

Please don't tell me you actually believe this. If you do, your naivety is amazing. Do you believe in tooth fairy as well ?

If Chavez was assasinated, every US embassy in Latin America would burn

US government is doing nothing about Chavez. They don't care whether there is freedom in Venezuela or not. As long as Chavez is selling them oil, they are selling the Venezuelan people down the river. US policy towards Venezuela is criminal. Fuck them and their embassies.

So that's a very tempting offer. Getting rid of a bloodthirsty monster in exchange for burning a few buildings inhabited by stupid bureaucrats who didn't lift a finger to get rid of Chavez...

If Al Qaeda was smart, they would assassinate Chavez. From their point of view, it would be a win-win situation: provoking vast unrest on an entire continent against the Yanks, while killing a dirty infidel dog...

Craig Bardo said...


I don't know, because I haven't done any research, if what you're saying about the U.S. is true when it comes to Venezuela, but I would not be surprised.

I detest our State Department and CIA. This is where we liberty loving, capitalists could take a chapter from post Bolshevik Trotsky about the dangers of bureaucracy (I'm only partially hyperbolic here). One of the dangers of any form of governance is a bureaucracy gathering power unto itself for its own purposes. In America, we have reached that point.

In some respects this is understandable, given this modern age of communication where diplomacy doesn't have to depend on couriers and slow boats to allow time for cooler heads to prevail at various points of inflection. The perpetual nature of our diplomacy and intelligence gathering creates, in some respects, the need for a bulwark against the vagaries of the accountable, elected who's decisions are at times incoherent, naieve and inconsistent with "our interests" and with precedent.

It is understandable, yet intolerable and incompatible with the proper functioning of a representative republic. The success of America's long experiment with open governance has created a market, if you will, for a cadre of self-empowered, largely unaccountable operatives who, in many ways are a rogue government within a government.

While on the surface, we engage in important political battles about the nature of our courts as determined by its appointees and the size of government as a function of taxes and spending, there is a bureaucratic coup taking place which seeks independence from all sides.

This next point may seem mundane, but as Ren and I have discussed before, liberal democrats are running much of the foreign affairs-intelligence/security complex. The CIA is full of liberal Democrats as a result of 8 years of Clinton and the State Department was always the province of liberal Democrats. Why is this important? Because, despite what any administration may try to do through leadership via the appointment of ambassadors and even the Secretary of State, in large measure, it is the careerists who decide what really gets done.

I said all of that to say, America has a schizophrenia when it comes to our public discourse and certainly with regard to the practice of security and diplomacy and it's open for the world to see and exploit! I agree that we should be supporting the people of Venezuela and South America in general through diplomacy and rhetoric, but who am I?

Ché Bob said...

I'm only guessing, but I'd say the majority of you have not been to Venezuela recently. Here are some balanced observations made by someone who has actually spent time in Venezuela:

Devil or Angel, We Should Give Chavez a Chance

Both Troutsky and myself have also spent time there. We did not travel together and the places and people we visited were unique yet our observations and analyses were similar. Troutsky's fact-finding delegation visited distinct worker's cooperatives, including fishing, farming and textiles. While the front-end of mine focused on meeting with opposition groups as varied as the CTV (self-proclaimed marxists though they led the oil-strike), anarchists (serious revolutionaries), and Primero Justicia (made up of Sumate coup leaders, rich capitalists, etc.). I was also able to meet with Venezuela's main human rights organization (PROVEA), and Bolivarian missions and the poor.

Not surprisingly, my own observations, as well as those of Troutsky and now those of Rufus Wanning in his Op-Ed are not dissimilar. We all express concerns alongside a sense of inspiration and hope. Regardless, we should leave the future of Venezuela in the capable hands of the Venezuelan people!

Anonymous said...

You've spent time there? I spent four years there '66-'70. It wasn't "recently", but I obviously know a little about that of what I speak, eh Che Bob?

And I've still got friends there. I get to hear first hand reports of what is going on, about empty shelves at the grocery stores And it is NOT pretty. The country is a dictatorship. And if/when oil prices slide, revolution will soon be on tap.

Hugo is living in an oil prosperity bubble. It won't last forever. A market collapse is what brought him to power in the first place.

Anonymous said...

They gave you and you friends the celbrity Cindy Sheehan ten cent tourist tour, and look at you now, licking the dictator's boot.


sonia said...

Che Bob,

self-proclaimed marxists though they led the oil-strike

Are you aware how ridiculous this phrase sounds ? Marxists are SUPOPOSED to lead strikes. I hope there are more strikes in Venezuela. How else do you expect Venezuelan workers to negociate better salaries and working conditions ?

We all express concerns alongside a sense of inspiration and hope.

Did you convey those concerns to Chavez's supporters ? What were their reactions ? Did they - like Stalinists before them, responding to similar concerns from West European leftists - talk about omelettes and eggs that have to broken ?

we should leave the future of Venezuela in the capable hands of the Venezuelan people!

Interesting that you feel the necessity of saying this in 2007. For almost 200 years now, Venezuela was an independent country, never occupied, never invaded. It's only since Chavez came to power that there is suddenly a talk of foreign meddling. So even if this talk is true, Chavez is to blame for putting Venezuela at risk of a foreign intervention.

Nobody says about Iceland 'we should leave the future of Iceland in the capable hands of the Icelandic people!' Nobody has to say it. It's obvious. But because of Chavez's stupidity, people feel the need to say this about Venezuela.

Anonymous said...

Hugo's party in Venezuela should come to a screeching halt pretty soon. He's running out of the juice he needs to keep the people on his side. And let's face reality, I seriously doubt anybodies going to lend him much more.

Anonymous said...

the top venezuela resource on the Internet is

PS Sonia, very nice

Frank Partisan said...

berty: The article was interesting. It had data, without conclusions.

Chavez's budget is the least oil dependant budget in modern Venezuelan history. He takes care of budget problems the old fashion way, from raising taxes.

Farmer; The elections in Venezuela have been reasonably fair for a South American country that is so polarized. He won 11 elections to the opposition's 0.

All the opposition presents is hate Chavez. That is weird to the average Venezuelan, who likes him.

All rhetoric aside, what is your program? How would you make Venezuela better?

Anonymous said...

Kind of odd discussion. The anti-Chavez types are pretty much as usual, spinning some amazing nonsense out of whole cloth. The pro-Chavez posters seem to come from an unusually narrow spectrum of the left--that is to say, actual formal Marxists for the most part. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it leaves out the perspectives of a lot of Chavez supporters both in Venezuela and abroad.

On RCTV, one thing I think people are missing in the one-dimensional talk about coup participation is that pretty much everyone, even opposition people a good part of the time, agrees that RCTV is a cruddy, schlocky television station. And its news operations didn't just commit criminal acts during the coup, they basically continued to routinely violate journalistic standards, publish false news, slander, and doctored images on an ongoing basis. The government negotiated with other stations like Globovision to tone things down to something approaching normal oppositional journalism, such that they said nasty things about Chavez but didn't out-and-out make calls for assassination or as a rule broadcast flat-out lies and slander. RCTV on the other hand consistently refused to observe any kind of journalistic standards. So when their license was up for renewal, it's a bit of a no-brainer to conclude that pretty much any replacement station one could envision would serve the public better than RCTV. It is not the government's responsibility to automatically renew broadcast licenses in the absence of the owners actually being in jail, it is their responsibility to manage the airwaves on the public's behalf. Peru apparently agrees, as they recently did not renew a couple of TV stations' broadcast licenses--but since it wasn't bogeyman Chavez, nobody particularly noticed. Why? Because it's a normal thing to do in a democracy; all democracies that I know of exercise this sort of control over the airwaves.

On Chavez's record more generally--well, for moderate leftish types it's the economy, stupid. Ever since the end of the oil "strike" nonsense and related economic sabotage, the economy's been growing at more than 10% per year, led by construction and manufacturing. The poor have seen their real income *double*, and that's before you account for free healthcare, education, and subsidized food. Unemployment is down, and employment in the "informal sector" is down too, meaning *way* more people have real jobs. Masses of new infrastructure is being built (as opposed to the US, where the infrastructure is slowly crumbling). It's like a China miracle, except instead of causing inequality it's alleviating it. It's a massive rebuke to the whole growth-killing neoliberal IMF project. With results like that, of course the broad left and the Venezuelan lower classes love Chavez.

From a more radical perspective--OK, no, he hasn't expropriated private property en masse and he's not likely to, and he's retained government interest or control in the industries he has nationalized. This is clearly not a Russian-style revolution. But at the same time, it does seem to me revolutionary. Change is rapid and fundamental, just not violent. For instance, from pretty much nothing, employment in co-operatives has reached 6% in just a few years. There are now more co-ops in Venezuela than anywhere else in the world. The Communal Councils do seem somewhat like Soviets, with the difference, frankly, that the Soviets ended up turning into rubber stamps for a number of reasons including heavy-handed Party control as well as lack of education--whereas the Communal Councils are for real, and the need for education in self-management is being strongly addressed from the bottom and aided from the top. They're more like Soviets should have been but basically weren't. Chavez's general strategy seems to be, rather than axe existing institutions willy-nilly he sidesteps them when they get in the way, building up new alternative progressive structures alongside them; presumably the next step is to gradually de-fund the old bureaucratic institutions, letting them wither away as the new ones gain capacity. Revolutionary change is happening, just not in a traditional Communist sort of way. But I'd say it's working well, so one should be careful in critiquing what's going on to check--are we criticizing things because they don't work and aren't bottom-up revolution, or are we criticizing things because they're not the same things we're used to thinking of?

Anonymous said...

Yes the Counter-Demonstration to Friday's Anti-Chavez Student Demonstrations were obviously a spontaneous outpouring of support... the people were literally dancing in the street in their show of support.

Viva Hugo Chavez! Not.

Anonymous said...

Of course all my supporters deserved the free cerveza's I supplied at the hospitality tents set up around the area. And of course, the churasco's were cooked to perfection as well!

Viva la Revoluccion Bolivariana! Not.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and did you see the pathetic turnout for the student march. All I had to do was deny their permits, and the little babies went crying back too their dormrooms. Awwww, poor babies. Video's of the poor babies being denied access to their destination.

Anonymous said...

How would I make Venezuela better?

I'd permit freedom of speech, for one.

Jae said...

This issue is mitigated by U.S. involvement. What seems to me to be a cut and dried issue -- 'Free Speech uber alles' -- has some serious strings attached. That is, if RCTV is going against the will of the working class and appealing to the interests of the CIA, super rich Venezualan, then, in the words of our idiot-in-charge, they are fomenting terrorism. The despised Fox News is welcome to call Barack and Hillary everything but a child of God, but the moment they sit down with soldiers and say 'here's our part in the armed rebellion' thena all bets are off. I point you to the Congo -- or damn near any African state -- to find a parallel to what American colonialism has wrought. Hunger, death and de-stablized governments. The Congo has been destablized for years because of its minereal wealth. Right now, eight year old boys and girls are working in mines under armed guard so we can have Razr cell phones. In generations past, the area provided most of the fissionable material for the West's atom and hydrogen bombs. Venezuela's oil wealth makes it a target and to think that entities like RCTV are acting in the interest of the people it supposedly serves is naive. Case in point, I get a bunch of the conservative eblasts and Donald Wildmon of Focus on Families is telling his followers -- middle class working folks, I'm assuming -- that Congress' attempt to consider campaign finance reform is the worst thing to happen since Roe v. Wade. When the RCTV, or Bush, or Cheney or Wildmon or Limbaugh tell the Big Whopper it's because they consider us stupid. RCTV is simply doing the same thing... in Spanish.

Anonymous said...

Fomenting rebellion in Venezuela by showing picture of the Pope's Assassination? LOL!

You guys kill me. No, I'll kill them!

Where are my Semiotics experts?

Craig Bardo said...

Where have you been?

Your post intrigues me, just as the posts of trotskyists/fellow travelers have. You are an example of a classic black western liberal (I point out the distinction because there are truly big differences in motivation and rhetoric between black and white western liberals). Yet you too find affinity with despotism, the toxic byproduct of which is indistinguishabe from your hated colonialism, with one difference, colonialism (broadly defined, because I don't always agree with how you and your brethren would so characterize such activity) brings at least the potential for development and economic progress.

Having grown up with you, I know you, I know that you value your liberty~in a big way! :-) I also know what motivates your sympathies. Yet, it seems that the real attitudes and challenges we faced as obvious decendants of slaves in this culture have been overtaken by the knowledge of the truly hurt, harmed, offended and moreso by hyperbolic rhetoric of those with the skill to exploit and extend even the suggestion of hurt, harm or offense. You and other classic black, western liberals, I suggest, have been so seduced by the combinatioon of true hurt, misidentification of the true enemy and a campaign of clever, if logically inconsistent rhetoric, that you would subvert your own objectives by your support of certain anti-capitalist/anti-western strawmen.

LeftyHenry said...

Hugo Chavez,

thanks for posting that picture lol, there's something about a bunch of people dancing with red flags..

? said...

I tend to associate dancing with red flags with a strong culture and future. This is amazing. Great post.

Eugene Weixel said...

Hi- a nice lively conversation going on here!

Coming in late (I saw your comment on OIL WARS) I will throw my two cents in.

First after the 2002 coup and even now Chavez did not have the power to do whatever he might have wanted to do.

Ridiculous as it sounds, the Supreme Court ruled that a coup had not even taken place.Chavez offered several times to dialogue with the opposition and he did with some of the opposition media that was willing to have this dialogue. Those that supported the coup but have complied with the law of social responsibility since then did not have their licenses expire. RCTV refused to comply with this quite reasonable law covering the public airwaves.These stations that are complying with the law but are still highly critical of Chavez are branded as being under Chavez' control.

Not that long ago a special prosecutor was appointed to investigate criminal charges against alleged coup participants. His name was Danilo Anderson and he was murdered.

Writer and academic Heinz Dieterich has written cogently about Anderson's murder, "The menace of Danilo for Washington's terrorist project was two-fold: he threatened one of its main instruments of power, Venezuela's corrupt class justice system and too he was becoming a symbol of the honest patriot and servant of the majority of the new Bolivarian nation....Danilo Anderson's murder shows that the subversion has made a qualitative leap to a generalised offensive. From now on, people emblematic of the process whose death may have a high propaganda value for Washington will be in danger. Likewise, the subversion will begin attacks against energy and transport infrastructure and carry out more murders and incursions along the Colombian border...Looking back in history, we can say that the Bolivarian revolution has entered the phase of the Cuban revolution of 1960 when the US-Cuban counter-revolution launched attacks, sabotage and murders from nuclei in the Sierra Escambrey or, too, Nicaragua from 1983 onwards." ( From Counterpunch

Anonymous said...

My pleasure. The Chavista Party dances with red flags because I've decreed it a crime to march with these flags...

Wait a minute.

What the HELL are they doing marching with those flags???

Somebodies gonna be stood up against a wall for allowing this! Where the HELL is my Guardia Naccional???

sonia said...

Eugene Weixel,

Bolivarian revolution has entered the phase of the Cuban revolution of 1960

Exactly. The sad future of Venezuela is all mapped out. Growing repression from Chavez, followed by attempts at counter-revolution, leading to a complete suppression of free speech and democracy, leading to last, desperate acts of terrorism from the right, finally leading to Stalinist hell.

This is why revolutions always lead to totalitarian oppression. Not because revolutionaries necessarily want this in the begining. But because their actions lead to re-actions from the right, and create a chain reaction that eventually cannot be controlled anymore. And it all ends with Pol Pot's killing fields, gulags, and boat people desperately trying to escape. It's not all Chavez's fault, but he started this madness by trying to improve poor people's lives. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Graeme said...

People are pissed because they thought they weren't going to get to watch their soap operas.

This is so stupid. Put NBC in the same situation in the US and they would have been executed.

Frank Partisan said...

Purple Library Guy: Welcome to this blog.

The left at this blog taking part in this discussion includes left-liberals, anarchists and other left positions. Some of us are open Marxists of various persuasions.

The conservatives are from different schools of thought as well. the loudest and meanest, come from a cult based around Rudy Giuliani.

In a discussion like this it's not to change the views of the anti-Chavez people, but to influence third parties.

Hugo: Your avatar might be illegal in Germany.

Should I go to the loser march with no food or beer, or go to the one with goodies. Your oiligarchy friends have $$ for beer.

Thank you for the cool picture of the Chavez rally. The hot babes don't go to loser rallies.

I know you see yourselves as victims. On this single issue you had popular support in Venezuela, the biggest and most influencial newspapers, TV stations, support resolutions from parliments, support of human rights groups and you still lost. The opposition in Venezuela is hopeless when it comes to tactics.

As for the jailed protesters, if you bring slingshots to demonstrations, you could be arrested.

Hugo Chavez the other one, took the license of Thames TV. I made a mistake, it was Margaret Thatcher. She didn't like a particular documentary.

Your folks didn't ask for permits. You went out and built barracades. Tactically again you guys are idiots.

I haven't seen the full video yet about the Pope issue. I'm agnostic on that issue as of now.

Again you have no program to beat Chavez. You have no program on any issue.

Jae: Good to see you blogging. Who would believe you grew up with Craig (CB)? I'd rather listen to you guys debate than the crop of presidential candidates.

Fox News is like "Democracy Now" next to RCTV.

CB: Knowing Jae personally if you think he's a classical Afro-American liberal, you'll not exactly be correct. I think he is doing what he believes to be pragmatic.

Sonia: All your democracy talk is out the window, when you advocate assasination on a democratically elected leader. He has won eleven elections in a row. They were not Saddam elections.

I think you brought up an important point about revolution. As much as you want a revolution to be peaceful, there is a minority that needs to be put down by force.

After the American revolution there were Americans loyal still to Britain. Many had to flee to Canada. They got into violent clashes with what was called The Patriots.

Later the south wouldn't except destroying slavery and feudal relations. They had a traitorous movement that caused a civil war.

You can tell by the tone even in this discussion, that Chavez will need to use violence. No different than the Patriots and Loyalists.

You oppose all revolution?

Pseudo: Talk of a party, you are there.

Eugene: Welcome to this blog.

People don't realize, including Chavez supporters, that the Venezuelan has several layers. There are actually more checks and balances since Chavez took power. I guess it went from three government divisions to five.

Interesting post.

Graeme: It's true that most people who support in Venezuela RCTV, don't see it as a free speech issue.

sonia said...


Chavez will need to use violence... American revolution... No different than the Patriots and Loyalists. You oppose all revolution?

Yes I do. I oppose revolutions when they ultimately fail, like in Russia in 1917, because all those killings were for what ? So that Russia would return to being capitalist in 1991 ? All those broken eggs and no omelette. All for NOTHING.

And I oppose revolutions when they succeed as well, like United States in 1776. And I am surprised you don't oppose them as well. What good did the American revolution do ? Slavery was abolished in the British Empire in 1807, in the US only in 1863. So if the American revolution failed, American slaves would have been free half a century earlier. Fewer Native Americans would have been slaughtered as well, as most native tribes supported Britain against the American revolutionaries.

So you are comparing Chavez with Washington now ? All right. That would mean that if Chavez succeeds, Venezuela will be bombing the shores of Tripoli in Libya very soon, invade Mexico in a few years (stealing half its land), and later it will pretend to liberate Cuba and install a military base there to torture Arab prisoners.

And you are all in favor of all those genocidal crimes that will inevitably occur if Chavez's revolution succeeds ????

The world would be a much better place if all revolutionaries (including Washington and Chavez) failed miserably, and ended up hanging from a tree...

Anonymous said...

Again you have no program to beat Chavez. You have no program on any issue.

What do you mean by that ridiculous comment, mr. renedgade eye? The CIA masterminds at Langley are organizing and funding a tremendous campaign against me...isn't it obvious! Just ask mr. brown, he'll tell you. Go ahead, ask him!

It was they who recommended that CNN run those subliminal messages to kill me in the channel's retrospective on the RCTV years the night their license expired. Just try and deny it, I dare you! It was they who forced me to shut down the mission churches and hospitals... their agents are EVERYWHERE! Their campaign against me is MASSIVE, I tell you. MASSIVE! The Oligarch's are spending countless millions to stir up student unrest and fund marches against me!

And don't you forget it! No program to beat me... it's a CIA conspiracy!

MarxistFromLebanon said...

Renegade, I am beginning to suspect the age of your debaters, or their short-sightedness


Graeme said...


You wouldn't support a "revolution" in Cuba? (or maybe it would be called a counter-revolution.) I remember you thought it was ok for Posada Carriles to attack Castro's Cuba.

What do you purpose people do?

Frank Partisan said...

Sonia: When I read your post, the first thing that came to my mind, is send me Che Bob. He likes dealing in subject matter like that.

To me it was esoteric. The bottom line is I'm a revolution and election person, while you prefer coups and assasination.

The Bill of Rights could only come from a revolution.

hugo: If I critcize you politically you might learn something. I want you to stay as you are, so I can have a foil.

MFL: Great to hear from you.

Eugene Weixel said...

The article I quote is making the point that Venezuela is facing a similar level of sabotage and hostility from the US as Cuba in 1960 and Nicaragua in 1983. You do recall the Bay of Pigs and the contra - cocaine war.

Revolutions do get messy. The one in my country, the US did carry forth some ideas that were strange in it's time, for example that ordinary people could persue happiness and that rule over a nation is not an hereditary right.

Venezuela is telling us that rule over the airwaes is also not an heridatary right.

Brown John said...

Hello. This little HEADCOFFIN has been delivered to you courtesy of John Brown at Savage Injustice. If you think that you have received this message as the result of some error, you are mistaken. Spam other people's blogs with personal insults and racial epitaphs and you get to experience reciprocity of fate. If you believe that you should not be the recipient of this demonstration of savage/ social justice, please feel free to contact john via e-mail at this ISP: and convince him to be more civil in the future.

*just a taste of things to come*

Graeme said...

propose not purpose. geez, i can't type

korova said...

seems to be an eerie silence about this.

(I know there is a typo in the post before anyone points it out!)

Mike Ballard said...

I'm wondering how long the "Washington Post" would have lasted, if it called for the overthrow of the Nixon government during the May Day protests of the 1971?

The fact is that the USA has plenty of laws on the books to shut down and keep at bay any major socialist oriented critical avenue (I'm talking mass media distribution) vis a vis the rule of Capital. And you think that the capitalist government wouldn't use that power?

Think again.

The puny challenges put up by the Black Panthers during the 60s and the governmentla response in terms of COINTELPRO demonstrate that no serious, open, public opposition to the rule of Capital will be tolerated. And I mean there are a hundred and fifty other examples within the history books.

Chavez used the powers of the State which are granted to rulers to shut down an insurrectionary voice which, for all intents and purposes, egged on and participated in an attempted coup d'etat against his bourgeois democratically elected government. He's just lucky that he wasn't in as weak a position as Salvador Allende of Chile.

frolix22 said...

I have actually had two stories changed on the BBC Online website due to their anti-Chavez slanting after complaining about them. However, their coverage of the RCTV issue is very poor, failing to include all the necessary context regarding the 2002 coup.

Keep up the good work.


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