Anti-Venezuelan Resolutions in Congress

Anti-Venezuelan resolutions were recently introduced in the House and Senate Committees on Foreign Relations and may be coming up for a committee vote soon.
We need you to take ACTION RIGHT AWAY –

What are H. Con. Res. 77 and S. Res. 211?

Rep. Jerry Weller (R-IL) introduced H. CON. RES. 77 and Senators Lugar (R-IN) and Dodd (D-CT) introduced S. Res. 211, both of which condemn a decision made by the Venezuelan National Telecommunications Commission not to renew the broadcasting license of Radio Caracas Television (RCTV), a privately owned television station, that is up at the end of
this month.

These resolutions incorrectly describe the decision as being
"political" and a threat to freedom of expression in Venezuela, when in fact this is a regulatory matter based on existing telecommunications law and the provisions of the 1999 Constitution. Furthermore, the constitutional right to make decisions on the licensing of broadcasters
is enjoyed by most governments worldwide, including that of the U.S.

What you can do RIGHT NOW:

If you live in any of the states that are part of the Senate and House Foreign Relations Committee, PLEASE CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE:

HOUSE:
http://foreignaffairs.house.gov/members.asp?
committee=full&subnav=subcommittees

SENATE: http://www.senate.gov/~foreign/about.html

If you don't live in a state part of these committees, please call the Chairs of Both committees:

HOUSE: Chairman Lantos 202-225-3531

SENATE: Chairman Biden 202-224-5042

Ask them NOT to sign onto S. Res. 211 and H. Con. Res. 77.

Even better, request a face-to-face meeting with them while they are home between May 28 - June 1.

When you call:

1) Ask to speak to the Legislative Aide who works on Venezuela issues.

2) If you speak to the aide directly, ask him/her to recommend them to speak out against H. Con. Res. 77 / S. Res. 211. If you are put into voicemail, please leave a message.

Talking points to consider for your discussion:

· The resolutions incorrectly describe the non-renewal decision as being "political" and a threat to freedom of expression in Venezuela, when in fact this is a regulatory matter based on existing telecommunications law and the provisions of the 1999 Constitution.

· RCTV is Venezuela's most often cited station for legal
infractions, including the airing of pornography and cigarette advertisements. Previous offenses committed under other presidential administrations led to repeated closures and fines for RCTV, but the most recent violation is in regard to the role of the station in supporting a coup attempt against President Chavez in 2002 and an oil industry strike in 2002 - 2003.

· The non-renewal of the RCTV broadcasting license does not
alter the Venezuelan government's commitment to freedom of expression. Cable and satellite broadcasts will continue to be available for the station's use.

· The constitutional right to make decisions on the licensing
of broadcasters is enjoyed by most governments worldwide, including that of the U.S. Moreover, the Venezuelan Supreme Court ruled in early May to uphold the non-renewal decision.

· Although the Senate resolution calls on the Organization of
American States (OAS) to condemn Venezuela, José Miguel Insulza, Secretary-General of the OAS, has stated it is up to the Venezuelan courts to solve the dispute over RCTV. Also, the Vice-Chair of the European Parliament's Freedom Commission, Giusto Catania, ruled out that the EU Parliament would pass a resolution against Venezuela for the non-renewal of the RCTV license.

Please forward this message on to friends and ask them to make a similar call.

For more information on how to proceed with this IMPORTANT action, call VIO at 202 347 8081, ext. 603, or email natali@veninfo.org. Sign up for Venezuela news and action alerts at veninfo.org.

Check out the VIO's fact sheet on Press Freedoms in Venezuela: The Case of RCTV.

The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey