Latin America Avoids Confronting Chavez

El Pais
Latin America Avoids Confronting Chavez
June 10, 2007

Despite the street protests in Caracas and political pressure emerging from the United States, the Organization of American States (OAS) is not going to take measures against Venezuela for the closure of the opposition channel Radio Caracas TV (RCTV), according to an announcement by the secretary general of that multinational organization, José Miguel Insulza.

This decision, which means a victory for the Hugo Chávez government, reflects the will of the regional group of countries to avoid any conflict with the controversial Venezuelan president.

“The suspension of the Radio Caracas TV’s concession is a measure not liked by member countries, but nobody has asked for a condemnation of something that constitutes an administrative decision by a government in whose governance we cannot interfere,” thus affirms Insulza at an interview granted to EL PAÍS at his Washington office.

None of the OAS members requested measures against the Venezuelan government at the organization’s General Assembly, held at the beginning of this week in Panama. Most of the countries, according to Latin American diplomatic sources, consider the closing down of RCTV to be an abusive measure by Hugo Chávez, but is not reason enough for provoking a confrontation with Venezuela, at the moment one of the most economically active counties on the continent thanks to the oil boom.

The leading Latin American governments fear, furthermore, that action by the OAS in answer to a decision they all make routinely-the concession and suspension of television licenses-would have set a very dangerous precedent.

Up until now the United States Executive Branch has not taken sides in the conflict with Chávez despite his continuous provocations. Nevertheless, its representative arrived at the OAS Assembly under pressure from a resolution by the US Senate approved unanimously a few days prior which condemned the closure of RCTV as an act “against freedom of expression” and petitioned the OAS for action.

Consequently, the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, at the Panama meeting petitioned the secretary general of the OAS to use his good offices to study the conditions under which RCTV was closed.

Insulza nevertheless explains in the interview that an action of this nature requires, according to the OAS Charter, the approval of the rest of the countries and the acceptance of the country being affected, none of which conditions were present.

On the one hand, at the Assembly none of the countries called out to condemn Venezuela. On the other hand, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolás Maduro had already warned in Panama that he would not give his consent to any kind of investigation by Insulza.

The Secretary General of the OAS is therefore disempowered from taking personal action in the matter. “I stand among those who were displeased by the RCTV decision, but nobody believes that this is reason for provoking a break-up within the institution,” thus affirms Insulza. Although he shares in the criterion that the closure of Radio Caracas TV constitutes “an administrative action,” he believes that this measure “turned into a political sanction the moment the Venezuelan government adduced political reasons for taking such action.” Insulza recalls that the withdrawal of RCTV’s license-officially was not renewed upon expiration of its term of issuance-took place after Chávez himself accused the channel of having supported the attempted coup d’état of 2002 and of habitually maintaining “fascist” points of view. The Secretary General of the OAS expects, despite everything, to maintain contact with the member nations in order to study what other measures can be taken with respect to Venezuela. Nor does he discard the possibility of sometime traveling to that\n country in order to analyze the situation more closely, although he points out that that will not be soon. “I hope Venezuela continues to be a democratic country. My mission is not going to be that of exacerbating the process of a break-up, because what this continent needs is unity,” thus assured Insulza.

Although he shares in the criterion that the closure of Radio Caracas TV constitutes “an administrative action,” he believes that this measure “turned into a political sanction the moment the Venezuelan government adduced political reasons for taking such action.”

Insulza recalls that the withdrawal of RCTV’s license-officially was not renewed upon expiration of its term of issuance-took place after Chávez himself accused the channel of having supported the attempted coup d’état of 2002 and of habitually maintaining “fascist” points of view.

The Secretary General of the OAS expects, despite everything, to maintain contact with the member nations in order to study what other measures can be taken with respect to Venezuela. Nor does he discard the possibility of sometime traveling to that country in order to analyze the situation more closely, although he points out that that will not be soon.

“I hope Venezuela continues to be a democratic country. My mission is not going to be that of exacerbating the process of a break-up, because what this continent needs is unity,” thus assured Insulza .

© Diario EL PAÍS S.L. – Miguel Yuste 40 – 28037 Madrid [España] – Tel. 91 337 8200

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2 Comments to “Latin America Avoids Confronting Chavez”

  1. The OAS is correct to leave this issue alone. To interfere with the Venezuelan decision would be to use the OAS for antidemocratic ends. Some facts: In 2002 RCTV violated THE basic tenant of professional journalism. They informed the Venezuelan nation in most celebratory tone that chavez was no longer the president and that a coup had vanquished him from national politics. During this crucial period, the network pumped loads of such misinformation hoping to make their non-democratic wish a reality. They effectively sabotaged the airwaves for (non-democratic) political reasons and as such lost their right to broadcast to the public. If they were going to be shut down by teh goverment, 2002 would have been when this would have happenned. instead, the administration waited for the license to expire and justifiably choose not to renew. After all of the mainstream media’s cries over the injustice of “shutting” down dissent are over and done with, RCTV’s actions of 2002 will go down in history as the first ever “media-coup”. Keep in mind that RCTV is a private company and as such needs to adhere to the principles and requirements of its viewership: true democracy and trustworthy coverage. The license revocation is a good example that other goverments should follow to reign in private media.

  2. This article is excellent. You (rogigor) are trying to hide the truth. Chavez is a dictator, and a coward. He resigned. The other guy (Carmona) did the coup. No the Venezuelans in general. Chavez resigned I saw it, everybody saw it. RCTV did presented the truth. Anyway, there is supposed to be judicial independence right? Why you do not try to explain what is the crime? Who determined so? … sorry I forget you cannot.

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