State-controlled media in Venezuela: a worrying trend

President Hugo Chavez has stated that the Venezuelan government is to take a stake in the main opposition television channel, Globovision. The government has recently taken over two companies, between them owning 25.8% of Globovision shares, which Chavez wants to transfer into the hands of the state. This would entitle the government to appoint a member of the board of directors of one of its most critical opponents, and the president has already nominated two staunchly pro-Chavez journalists for that position. Last month an arrest warrant was issued against the president of the network, Guillermo Zuloaga, who has now fled to the USA with a view to obtaining political asylum, and has approached the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for help. It is alleged the Globovision has long been in Chavez’s sights.

Concerns for media freedom in Venezuela are nothing new: in 2007 Chavez’s government was condemned by media groups when it refused to renew the concession of the country’s oldest private media station, RCTV, after the station supported an attempted coup against him. Last year the government revoked the licences of several radio stations, and there are already a substantial number of state-owned newspapers and television channels in his control. State ownership does not per se constitute a risk to freedom of expression and the press, but Chavez’s apparent determination to have a finger in every media pie naturally raises concerns over the protection of those freedoms, and especially the use of censorship, to which the country has made national, regional and international commitments.


4 Responses to “State-controlled media in Venezuela: a worrying trend”

  1. 1 Tatiana July 26, 2010 at 10:17 am

    And it’s getting worse with Chavez’s new Censorship Office:

  2. 2 Tom July 28, 2010 at 10:01 am

    The attacks on media freedom described above are indefensible. They were further highlighted by the Inter American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in its 24 February 2010 report, Democracy and Human Rights in Venezuela, identified a series of issues that restrict the full enjoyment of human rights.

    In the report, the IACHR also note that ‘in terms of economic, social, and cultural rights, the IACHR recognizes the State’s achievements with regard to the progressive observance of these rights, including, most notably, the eradication of illiteracy, the reduction of poverty, and the increase in access by the most vulnerable sectors to basic services such as health care.’

    Another report, by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, the leading European research network in economics, records that ‘the Chávez government has greatly increased social spending, including spending on health care, subsidized food, and education. The most pronounced difference has been in the area of health care. For example, in 1998 there were 1,628 primary care physicians for a population of 23.4 million. Today, there are 19,571 for a population of 27 million. The Venezuelan government has also provided widespread access to subsidized food. By 2006, there were 15,726 stores throughout the country that offered mainly food items at subsidized prices.’

    As the IACHR Report puts it, human rights constitutes an ‘indissoluble whole’; in our defence of freedom of expression we ought not jettison socioeconomic rights. Rather, our criticism of Chavez’s attacks on opponents will be stronger if we show we are not blind to that ‘indissoluble whole’. As the American Convention on Human Rights sets forth in its Preamble: ‘The ideal of free men enjoying freedom from fear and want can be achieved only if conditions are created whereby everyone may enjoy his economic, social, and cultural rights, as well as his civil and political rights.’

  3. 3 mbt shoes August 3, 2010 at 11:08 pm

    thank! for this news it’s a good infomation !

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