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Chavez Shutting Down Opposition Media

UPDATE: Opposition Leader injured in RCTV closure protests.

Antonio Ledezma, leader of Venezuela's opposition Brave People's Alliance (ABP), suffered a chest wound on Sunday night during the protest against the closure of Radio Caracas Television (RCTV), Richard Blanco, a member of the ABP board told press Monday.

Ledezma is now in intensive care at the San Roman Urology clinic, eastern Caracas, where he was taken after police and National Guard officers broke up the demonstration, just hours after RCTV was taken off air Sunday.

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Venezuelan despot Hugo Chavez wasn't satisfied just shutting down one television broadcaster at midnight last night, he now appears to have his eyes set on another.

Hours after President Hugo Chavez shut down Venezuela's main opposition broadcaster, his government demanded an investigation of news network Globovision today for allegedly inciting an assassination attempt on the leftist leader.

Mr. Chavez took Radio Caracas Television, or RCTV, off the air at midnight yesterday and replaced it with a state-run channel to promote his socialist programs. The move sparked international condemnation and accusations from the opposition that he was undermining democracy in the OPEC nation.

A free press is vital to a democracy, but those on the right here in the U.S. are relentless in their attacks on our own free press. U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently pointed this out to the graduating U.S. Naval Academy class of 2007.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates encouraged the graduating U.S. Naval Academy class of 2007 Friday to "remember the importance of two pillars of our freedom under the Constitution: the Congress and the press."

"Both surely try our patience from time to time, but they are the surest guarantees of the liberty of the American people," Gates told the 1,028 graduates during a sunny ceremony at the Navy-Marine Corps Stadium in Annapolis, Md.

Gates told the new Naval officers they will have the responsibility to inform people below them that the military "must be nonpolitical" and recognize the obligation to truthfully report to Congress, "especially when it involves admitting mistakes or problems."

"The same is true with the press, in my view a critically important guarantor of our freedom," he said.

Gates cited media reports of poor outpatient treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center as an example of the important role news organizations play in pointing out important problems.

"When it identifies a problem, as at Walter Reed, the response of senior leaders should be to find out if the allegations are true, as they were at Walter Reed, and if so, say so," Gates said. "And then act to remedy the problem. If untrue, then be able to document that fact."

Gates said the Founding Fathers wisely understood that the Congress, a free press and a nonpolitical military are needed in a free country.

"The press is not the enemy and to treat it as such is self-defeating," he said.


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Comments (6)

Allen:

Yes, free press/news is a must in a democratic country. However, I haven't seen much of it here in the US. The news is so slanted one way or the other.

What ever happen to honest reporting? It doesn't matter what party is in power, the news is still slanted.

cirby:

So...

George Bush's Defense Secretary giving a speech DIRECTLY SUPPORTING the Constitution is, in your opinion, a sign of how the right "are relentless in their attacks on our own free press"?

And this is, somehow, a direct and equal comparison to a leftist dictator (who gets a good amount of support from the left in America, and who had his "election" verified by Jimmy Carter) who shuts down opposing TV stations?

So... how many TV stations have the eeeevil Right closed down in our fascist America? Newspapers? Web sites?

What, that number is zero? Not very "relentless," are they?

Steve Crickmore:

Chavez: "That television station became a threat to the country so I decided not to renew the licence because it's my responsibility," ..so I guess it's o'kay, then..

Chavez when he was in Rio de Janeiro in January, made a two hour speech in the Rio state legislature, waving the front page of Rio's main liberal newspaper 'O Globo' at the audience because a journalist had made some unkind remarks about him on the front page. He repeatedly called the journal and the national tv network they owned (the largest and most distinguished in Brazil) "the enemy of the people". I knew he was nuts and dangerous then.

Chavez is a despot in the classic sense. He doesn't "have" power, in his mind that might suggest that he could "lose" it. He "is" power.

Cirby - we're reality-based carbon-units here in the blue zone. We can talk about "why" and 'how" the right hates the Mainstream Media, but "if" is not at question.

George Bush's Defense Secretary giving a speech DIRECTLY SUPPORTING the Constitution is, in your opinion, a sign of how the right "are relentless in their attacks on our own free press"?

No, it's the antithesis of what the right is trying to do - that's why it's noteworthy, but why isn't the right wing listening to Gates regarding the free press?

Chavez doesn't like the idea of a free press either? Why?

cirby:

Lee-

There's a huge difference between "hating" the very biased mainstream media and "attacking a free press" in general.

You're claiming something very much NOT in evidence. While the Republicans are usually pissed off at the media because of biased coverage, you're making several HUGE strides in claiming some sort of threat versus a free press in general. Hell, you can't even come up with a real example, so you have to assume that it will happen, even though you have no real evidence to back you up at all - so you use an example of a leftist in power who's doing the things you dream the American right might do, in some imaginary situation some time in the future.

On the other hand, with things like "speech codes" on college campuses, as well as a myriad other tactics, the American left seems to be the side that's actually threatening free speech in general.

Great post Lee. Chavez is a very erratic leader who will likely one day be involved in a serious foreign policy dispute with the U.S. because of his dangerous plans to build his nation's military and promote rampant antiAmericanism.

Some Socialist econmics would not be entirely bad for Venezuela, but there also needs to be a healthy private enterprise economy balance as well. Chavez does not respect that limitation, and any investor in Venezuela has to fear unwarranted nationalism of their business assets.

Chavez respects no limits. Not of free speech, democratic opposition, or respect for private property. He far exceeds any agrarian reformer standards of measurement, and is headed down the same unfortunate road as Fidel Castro who once enjoyed wide support among many progressives and liberals after his 1959 revolution, but broke every promise including democratic elections within six months after seizing power.

Castro and Chavez need to take a note from the Chinese Communist leadership who are very pragmatic despite being Communists, and are probably the best capitalists in the world right now. Castro could have remained a Communist, but could made his country a more open vacation wonderland and brought in hotels and casinos and made his country very wealthy, but completely failed. Chavez is headed down the same wrong path of economic isolation from the U.S. Any pragmatic nation should seek trade with the U.S. because of the huge consumer market here and the ability to advance an exporting based economy.


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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