Eva Golinger on Chavez' Nationalization Moves

ps - received this post on a list called vivabolivar. there was no associated URL, so I can't verify if golinger wrote this. but it's a very well written piece, and it explains a lot of the historical context behind Chavez recent decisions. read, think, decide for yourself.

more news and analysis about venezuela in english:
www.venezuelanalysis.com

CONFUSED ABOUT VENEZUELA?
By Eva Golinger
12 January 2007

Over the past few days, major newspapers in the United States, such as
The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times and The Wall
Street Journal, have published editorials aggressively and harshly
criticizing recent declarations and decisions made by re-elected
President Hugo Chávez and his cabinet. A large percentage of the content of
these editorials, which reflect the viewpoints of the newspapers, are based on a
distortion and misconception of new policies being implemented in Venezuela and
the overall way government is functioning.

In the Washington Post’s “Venezuela’s Leap Backward”, published on January 10,
the editorial board intentionally and mistakenly portrays the recent
presidential elections this past December in Venezuela as illegitimate and
unfair. By falsely claiming that Chávez conducted a “one-sided campaign that
left a majority of Venezuelans believing they might be punished if they did not
cast their ballots for him”, the Post wants its readers to think Venezuelans who
voted for Chávez did so under duress and fear. Nothing could be further from the
truth. A majority of Venezuelans publicly express their sincere admiration and
approval of President Chávez in an open and fearless way on a daily basis in
this country. Most Venezuelans believe Chávez is the best president the nation
has ever had, and statistics prove that his government has built more bridges,
railroads, hospitals, clinics, universities, schools,highways and houses than
any administration in the past. The Post editorial also attempts to downplay the
“only 7 million votes” Chávez received, not mentioning that those seven million
votes represent more than 63% of total votes – a landslide victory to the
opposition candidate’s 37% - and that no president in Venezuelan history has
ever, ever received such a large number of votes in an election.

The New York Times editorial, also published on January 10, attacks a
recent statement made by President Chávez regarding the nationalization of one
telephone company, CANTV, and an electric company. However the Times doesn’t
explain that the CANTV is the only non-cellular telephone company in the
country, giving it a complete monopoly on national landline telecommunications
and control over a majority of Internet service as well.

Furthermore, the CANTV was privatized only in 1991, during the second
non-consecutive term of Carlos Andrés Pérez a president later impeached
for corruption who implemented a series of privatization measures, despite
having run for office on a non-privatization platform just three years before.
In fact, as soon as Carlos Andrés Pérez won office in 1988 after convincing the
Venezuelan people he would not permit “neo-liberalism” on Venezuelan shores, he
immediately began to announce the privatization of several national industries,
including telecommunications, education and the medical and petroleum sectors.

This deception led to massive anti-privatization protests during February 1989
during which the government ordered the armed forces to “open-fire” on the
demonstrators and arrest and torture those not killed. The result was the
“Caracazo”, a tragic scar on contemporary Venezuelan history that left more than
3,000 dead in mass gravesites and thousands more injured and detained. The
re-nationalizing of
Venezuela’s one landline phone company is a strategic necessity and an
anti-monopoly measure essential to ensure that Venezuelans have access
to telecommunications service. (Take it from someone who lives here. You can’t
even get a landline if it isn’t already installed in your residence.

The waiting list is over 2 years and you have to bribe someone to actually do
the job). And furthermore, the new Minister of Telecommunications, Jesse Chacón,
announced that any company “nationalized” will be fully compensated for its
shares and property at market value.

The third issue put forth in the editorials is the recent announcement
by President Chávez that the license of private television station RCTV to
operate on the public airwaves is up for review in May 2007 and most
likely will not be renewed. The government has based its denial of the license
renewal on RCTV’s lack of cooperation with tax laws, its failure to pay fines
issued by the telecommunications commission, CONATEL, over the past twenty
years, and its refusal to abide by constitutional laws prohibiting incitation to
political violence, indecency, obscenity and the distortion of facts and
information. The public airwaves, as in the case of the United States, are
regulated by government. Television and radio stations apply for licenses from
the telecommunications commission and are granted those licenses based on
conditional compliance with articulated regulations.

When a station does not abide by the requirements, it generally is fined and
warned, repeatedly, until compliance is assured. In the specific case of RCTV,
the station and its owner, multi-millionaire Marcel Granier, have refused to
comply with the law and have continued to abuse and violate the clear and
concise regulations that are supposed to guarantee Venezuelan citizens their
constitutional right to “true and accurate information” (Article 58 of the
Constitution).

RCTV’s owner, Marcel Granier, played a key role in the April 2002 coup
d’etat against President Chávez and has used his station to engage in
an ongoing campaign of anti-Chávez propaganda and efforts to destabilize the
nation through distorting and manipulating information to create panic, apathy,
fear and violence in Venezuelan society. The station’s clear violations of the
telecommunications regulations and the Constitutional guarantees that protect
freedom of speech and access to true and accurate information provide sufficient
reason to deny the renewal of its license to use the public airwaves. Unlike the
editorial board of the Los Angeles Times (Fidel Chávez?, January 11, 2007)
mistakenly claims, Chávez and his government are not “shutting down” the private
media station. RCTV can continue to operate on the private airwaves, i.e. cable
and satellite television. As would be the case in any country where law and
order are respected, RCTV will not receive a renewal on its license to remain on
the public airwaves because it repeatedly violated the law during more than a
decade.

Unfortunately, international groups that allegedly protect freedom of
the press and of speech around the world, have fallen under the influence and
manipulation of RCTV president Marcel Granier, who through his close
relationship with Washington, is conducting a campaign to defend his station by
using the banner of freedom and liberty. But consistent lawbreakers and coup
leaders should not receive the support of international press watchdog groups
and human rights defenders. Rather, those groups should praise the decision of
the Venezuelan government to maintain the public airwaves in the hands of the
people. The license so abused by RCTV will most likely be granted to various
community and alternative media groups and stations in
Venezuela that have emerged over the past few years as a result of the
direct encouragement and support of the Chávez administration.

Finally, the editorials in the Post, the New York Times, the Los
Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal, all criticize President Chávez’s
announcement to create a new political party in Venezuela: the United Socialist
Party of Venezuela. The editorials inaccurately claim that Chávez will dissolve
all political parties in the country and allow only one party to operate. This
is a dangerous and false inference. What Chávez really declared was the
formation of a new revolutionary party that would be open to all parties that
support the revolution. There will be no closing down or abolishing of other
political parties in the nation; they can all remain as they wish and those that
choose to merge or support the new party can also freely do so. Furthermore,
Chávez indicated that the reason for the designing of a new political party is
to break free from the old corrupt hierarchical party structures of the past
that concentrate power in the
hands of few and exclude and ignore the vast majority of supporters.
Chávez remarked that the new party he seeks to promote will be formed by
grassroots community movements, and that there will be no power structures that
isolate and marginalize constituents.

If you only read the US press, you must be very confused about
Venezuela. The extreme levels of distortion, lack of fact checking and source
verification and outright manipulation of information in the US media on
Venezuela is quite troubling and dangerous in a nation that has waged wars based
on false data and misleading policies.

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