Latin America and the New Age of Mediocrity

Excellent article by Alex Beech

A recent travesty in Latin American history was the failure of the Organization of American States to address Venezuela’s media crisis when it assembled in Panama.

If, as an Afghan saying goes, a river is muddy from its source, it is clear that a lack of leadership, both at the OAS and in its member countries, contributed to this oversight, leaving Venezuela, if not the region, vulnerable to a further erosion of press freedoms.

Condoning the closure of a major television network in Venezuela, the OAS sent two signals: one, that Chavez will get away with illegal and unconstitutional measures; and two, that member nations will not punish each other for violating the democratic principles which purportedly underlie the OAS Charter.

For instance, Article 17 in Chapter IV of the Charter states that

“Each State has the right to develop its cultural, political, and economic life freely and naturally. In this free development, the State shall respect the rights of the individual and the principles of universal morality.”

By failing to provide any legal procedure or justification for its refusal to renew RCTV’s broadcast license, the Venezuelan government clearly violated the rights of Venezuelans to access information. The government’s decision was purely political, and not “administrative” as claimed by Insulza. During an interview with Dow Jones that took place on May 31, Venezuela’s special envoy Roy Chaderton said that the reason the government had renewed the licenses of other private networks was that they had amended their editorial stances to suit the government. “With (other stations) we took a political decision. They have rectified and the government considered it positive for democracy.” His claim was corroborated in New York by Consul General Leonor Osorio during an interview with NY1Noticias en Espanol, during which she repeated Chaderton’s stance in Madrid: “The renter has behaved badly, so we didn’t renew his contract.” To claim that the decision was administrative is a misguided attempt to cover the important fact that the Venezuelan government violated “the principles of universal morality”, for which it must be investigated.

By failing to take any action regarding Venezuela, the Organization of American States has lost its mandate to ensure that nations in the Western Hemisphere adhere to democratic principles. The OAS, for all intents and purposes, has plenty of intent but no purpose.

Perhaps the leaders of member countries took this decision out of self preservation. Chavez, after all, has proven he has the political will and financial might to fight his woes, and he finds allies everywhere: Joe Kennedy helped him poke his finger in Bush’s eye by facilitating cheap heating oil to poor communities in the US, Rafael Correa poked two fingers in Alvaro Noboa’s eyes in Ecuador, Ollanta Humala made a mockery of Peru’s sovereignty, and in Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador missed Felipe Calderon’s eyes by one or two inches.

Chavez’s candidates have won or nearly won everywhere. In fact, Chavez today sways more power over Latin nations than any other president.

His sole opponent, the US, is still scraping the egg off its face, as Condoleeza Rice’s plea for an investigation of Venezuela’s government blew through Panama like a breeze.

The mediocrity of the OAS leadership was well demonstrated in a recent interview conducted by El Pais, a leading Spanish newspaper, with OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza, who said the OAS wouldn’t take measures against Venezuela for removing the most popular television network from a prominent VHF placement, exiling RCTV to satellite and cable, where opposition voices will never be heard again.

In the interview, it becomes eerily apparent that Insulza and other member nations disagreed with the measure against RCTV, but plan to do nothing to investigate it.

Meanwhile, Insulza, trying to save face or whatever reputation he can salvage among the civilized, has been pedaling like a storm-caught duck trying to justify the unjustifiable. Not only has he said in private meetings in Washington that he disagrees with the measure “in his heart”, but he has expressed his observations in the media. In the disturbing interview with El Pais, titled “Latin America Avoids Confronting Chavez,” he claims he was “displeased” by the government’s decision, but could do nothing about it because Chavez’s hadn’t invited the OAS to Venezuela.

He ends by saying, “I hope Venezuela continues to be a democratic country.” Clearly, a country with no dissenting voices on any VHF (Very High Frequency) channel – and where the only UHF channel courageous enough to question the government is under threat – can no longer be labeled “democratic”.

Perhaps defining “democratic” is where Secretary General Insulza’s ignorance lies.

Please review the article below, and draw your own conclusions. Ask yourself what greater men, such as Churchill would do. It seems the age of courage, wisdom, and might may have come to an end, at least in Latin America.

2 Comments to “Latin America and the New Age of Mediocrity”

  1. This article is full of misinformation. 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, 2002 would have been 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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