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Rallying Big For Free Speech In Venezuela

Filed under: Venezuela

Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans demonstrate for free speech in Caracas
Source: AP, via Drudge Report

Imagine a world with no free press. For many Venezuelans, it's dawned for the first time that this is no imaginative fear anymore. It's real. Chavista supporters and poor voters have taken to the streets alongside their middle-class brethren to call for free speech as the biggest television station, RCTV is shut down by Chavista decree.

A Venezuelan babe paints herself in the logos of RCTV
Source:AP via Yahoo! News

Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez put a stop to free speech today by pulling the license of RCTV, the one TV station that has gone out of its way to oppose him, to blast his incompetence, to slam his theft of property, to warn he's running the country into the ground. They made no secret of opposing his power. Today the dictator ever so procedurally refused to renew the 53-year license of Radio Caracas Television, not because there's a public interest in seeing this station disappear, but because his own whim said so. When you are unable to distinguish yourself from the state, it gets easy.

Chavista military goons menaced demonstrating students Friday
Source:AP via Yahoo! News

Chavez sent tanks, armored personnel carriers and goons to the scene of the demonstrations, a first, to intimidate
Source:AP via Yahoo! News

Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans, however, felt differently. 80% of them opposed the end of their TV station - the soap operas, the political commentaries, the news, the dramas, the reality TV, the dance and song shows, enough to march in the streets. Gone! Yanked!

These Venezuelan babes say it all about the importance of the issue.
Source:AP via Yahoo! News

College kids rallied in great numbers, even with nearby tanks menacing
Source: Getty Images

And what it's to be replaced with is repulsive - government programming that's one part mind-numbing Marxist indoctrination done by the post office and another part bullets, razorblades, cuss words and motorcycle thugs. I kid you not. I was there and I already saw it.

Students went on strike at the Catholic University for free speech
Source:AP via Yahoo! News

A Venezuelan babe holds up a sign showing dead TV sets
Source:Reuters via Yahoo! News

RCTV is the most popular station in Venezuela, loved by both Chavistas in the slums and middle class people in neighborhoods like Altamira. In fact, it's the equivalent of ABC or CBS. It's a huge popular station that's done the moon landing, done the coups, done Nixon's visit where he was mobbed, done the Vargas floods, done plane crashes, oil strikes and beauty pageants. It's the universal community of television. Again, now gone black.

In the mysterious dynamic of a spontaneous demonstration, there's a still a party feel in protest, a defiant 'happy' anger of being unified in a common cause
Source:AP via Yahoo! News

RCTV owner Marcel Granier (the Bolton lookalike), a good and noble man, participates in the rally, too. He must be exhausted.
Source:AP via Yahoo! News

It's not just Venezuelans who are gonna suffer from this. We all are, because we all consume Venezuelan news. Venezuela's press is among the most vigorous and competitive in the world. All foreign correspondents take their cues from the tone set by the local press, and RCTV is the leader. That in fact is why news coverage is so good on Venezuela. The excellence of the local press keeps news organizations like the NYT and WashPost honest because word gets out easily if they get something wrong. And the willingness of the press to keep covering huge demonstrations reminds the world that not all is well under chavismo. That's the people and the media speaking together against tyranny.

Yep, an oligarch all right. The babe's gag says 'Don't close RCTV.'
Source:Reuters via Yahoo! News

You can see it's hot out - and they came anyway
Source:AFP via Yahoo! News

The destruction of the biggest player among the entire media, with a 40% TV market share, is a warning to other press pipsqueaks that no one is immune from the wrath of chavismo, that all are subject to the whim of chavismo, that all must bow down before the chavista moloch or else face annihilation. If RCTV can't defend itself, then neither can they. A dictatorial monolith has risen. The message sent by the destruction of RCTV is lost on no one.

Whistling as loud as she can for the right to not remain silent
Source:Reuters via Yahoo! News

All ages attended the free speech rally to save RCTV in Caracas. Can you imagine such a crowd coming to defend CBS?
Source:AP via Yahoo! News

That's why the destruction of RCTV matters, even to us. If RCTV goes, they all eventually will go, and Chavez's boldness in this move, against almost all public opinion shows that there's no craziness he will stop at. Venezuelans must be asking themselves what the future holds because it's extremely dour now.

The mouth we'd really like to see shut, the sign says
Source:AP via Yahoo! News

It will get uglier. And there will be no media to cover it. The food shortages, the riots, the violence, the rage in the streets, the Chavista corruption - there will be no one to check it. The broad unity of the people and their big television station will be broken, and again, all that will be left is chavismo, the chavista monolith. This is a real beginning of the end for Venezuela.

And we may hear very little about it because the free press is fading fast.

Venezuelan babes wore zippers across their faces to demand free speech
Source:AP via Yahoo! News

On the frontlines, Venezuelan journalists showed up en masse to demand free speech
Source:AP via Yahoo! News

Blog Roundup

Daniel at Venezuela News & Views has live, on-the-ground, minute-by-minute reporting of all he's seeing in Caracas around the final protests at the TV station. It's a must-see here. And thisthoughtful four-point analysis, too.

Miguel at Devil's Excrement has up-too-close photos of the Chavista thuggery at Globovision, here, along with observations here, news of official threats here, and an angry local Venezuelan political cartoon here.

Fausta at Fausta's blog has an excellent updated podcast of all the major Venezuelan bloggers who enlighten and inform about the ongoing events here. She also has a really good reporting on events of her own, and lots of links here.

Jim at GatewayPundit has a good summary of events and links galore in this post here. He's got a followup post showing chavista thuggery at the end of the rally today, very disturbing pictures.

Aleks Boyd, returning to blogging after an interval, says the RCTV shutdown is a blow for freedom of the press as well as illegal here.

Francisco at Caracas Chronicles has a good piece on the retreat of the radical left as Chavez goes off the deep end, forcing many to rethink their positions, or else resort to ever more irrational defenses here. He's got a lot of good stuff, click here and just keep scrolling.

For full coverage, click on Venezuela Today which has all the latest and most complete updates, changing by the hour here.

The Sumate signs represent different states, like Sucre and Cojedes
Source:AP via Yahoo! News

The banner reads: Freedom of Expression, SOS!
Source:AP via Yahoo! News

Newspaper Editorials Roundups

Editorial leaders are the official consensus positions of a newspaper's editorial leadership. That's why they have no bylines. As a result of the destruction of RCTV and the terrible implications of freedom of the press, nearly all major newspapers have come out against this move, as have all media watchdogs like 'Reporters San Fronteres' and the rest. Nearly all newspapers, from left to right, have blasted Chavez over this, some seeing him clearly for the first time ever. This represents a major strategic shift in world sentiment. Here are some newspaper editorials, and a couple of signed op-eds and columns from some extremely diverse newspapers, all saying the same thing.

Le Monde, as leftwing as a French newspaper can get, the Pepe Le Peu of French newspapers, fiercedly condemned Chavez's assault on freedom of speech in this major shift in sentiment over RCTV.

Investor's Business Daily, the second-biggest U.S. business newspaper and one that's editorially as far to the right as Le Monde is to the left, blasted the Chavez move as totally illegitimate in Venezuela yet dangerous to American interests too.

ABC Madrid, a great big Spanish newspaper, probably leftwing like they all are, condemned this move as contrary to democracy in this translated editorial.

The Wall Street Journal, the biggest U.S. business newspaper, warned that Chavez's shutdown of RCTV is undoubtedly a bid to preempt scrutiny of all the evil things he's planning now, a reasonable inteference, given what we are seeing.

El Nacional, Venezuela's equivalent of The New York Times, a highgrade, slightly left-leaning newspaper, the second biggest in Venezuela, has a huge frontpage editorial against a blackened television set graphic, powerfully sending a message of trouble ahead as this fatal mistake takes effect and worse follows.

The Washington Post, in a fine readable column written by Jackson Diehl, warned that freedom of the press in Venezuela should concern us all. He explains what RCTV is and what it means for Venezuela's history and speaks of all the innovations it's made.

Miami Herald, printing an essay by Rep. Tom Lantos, who was once a Hungarian democratic revolutionary who escaped communism, decried the horror of going after the press, explaining that the press is at the forefront of all modern revolutions.

'No to closure!' the sign reads
Source:Manuel Cifuentes, El Universal

The demonstration was spontaneous
Source:EFE via El Universal


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