Radio Free Chavez
Alright, so I guess it's not really news that Chavez is an autocratic thug, and this story about his refusal to renew the license of a private television station has been floating in the headlines for months now. The station in question was a haven for vocal criticism of his government, openly supported the 2002 coup against him and then refused to cover his return to power after it failed. Many would say - and indeed the media slant here seems to be - that they had it coming. Case in point:
"The order was 'zero Chavismo on the screen.' Nothing related to Chavez, his allies, his congressmen, members of his party," Izarra told The Associated Press in an interview. "When I hear the owners of RCTV talk about freedom of expression, it seems to me a great hypocrisy."
Again, the deliberate misunderstanding of what "freedom of expression" means. "Freedom of expression" doesn't mean "all citizens must represent every viewpoint equally and fairly!" No, in fact it means that citizens are free to express their opinions (provided they have the means to do so) without interference from the government. In other words, Chavez is clearly abusing his power to violate this right in closing RCTV.
But here's what really gets me about this whole thing:
Late Friday Venezuela's Supreme Court ruled that RCTV must temporarily leave its equipment and broadcast infrastructure in military hands when it goes off the air to guarantee that TVes would provide quality service.
Um - why exactly? For anyone who might have been tempted to take Chavez' side on this, this should be the nail in the coffin - and that is because this is what proves that it is a thuggish political move and not just a licensing issue. If Chavez has the political authority to refuse to renew a broadcasting license, then that is unfortunate, but apparently it is within the rule of law. What doesn't make any sense to me whatever is that refusal to renew a broacasting license should also entitle him to plunder the station's private property. This is the clearest sign to me that Venezuela is rapidly turning into yet another banana republic socialist dictatorship. Not only is RCTV prohibited from broadcasting because they took the wrong side in the coup (which, to be fair, can be construed as treason - they were actively calling for the overthrow of the "legal" government, after all - never mind that the government might not have been completely legal...), but they're now compelled to provide a platform for their political opponents with their own property and money? That's how you know Venezuela is becoming a slave state. "Property" is granted by the government, not the right of the owner. Now we will have four "Cubas" in Latin America (Bolivia, Venezuela, the Big Mac himself, and I guess Nicaragua is just a matter of time). Best to get that free-trade agreement up and running as fast as possible.