Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
June 05, 2007

The Coming Pakistan TV Shutdown Outrage

During the last month month U.S. media was filled with damning reports and comments on Hugo Chávez's move not to renew the license of RCTV. The Venzuelan TV station had supported the illegal, CIA backed coup against the elected President in 2002.

Congress member Tom Lantos (D-Calif) opined in the Miami Herald:

I urge regional leaders such as Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and others to galvanize a single voice to echo the sentiments already issued by Chile's Senate, which expressed its ''strong rejection'' of the plan to squash RCTV. Keeping quiet on this matter is a vote against independent thought in Venezuela and throughout the region. It is a vote against the history of the Americas.

The time for silence is over.

We will watch with amazement now as the chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs will look at his clock and recognize that the time of silence is over. He will now fight for independent thought in Pakistan. He will use Congress' power of the purse to immediately block billions of dollars of U.S. aid used to prop up the military dictatorship of Pervez Musharraf.

After all, over the weekend Pervez Musharraf shut down not one but all critical TV stations in Pakistan:

President Pervez Musharraf has cracked down on Pakistan's television networks in a move against growing calls for a return to democracy. Several stations were taken off the air at the weekend and yesterday Gen Musharraf introduced emergency legislation providing for stiff fines and the closure of channels deemed to have broken the law.

Brace yourself for a huge storm of outrage throughout the liberal U.S. media and editorial calls for Musharraf's ouster.

Or maybe not.

Posted by b on June 5, 2007 at 10:14 UTC | Permalink


latin america news review: Caracas' RCTV Protests: A cheap take-off on Berkeley in the '60s

Venezuelans of different social stripes have grown up watching the soap operas, game shows and news programs of RCTV. Regardless of the fact that I consider the non-renewal of RCTV's broadcast license to be completely justified, there's no denying the fact that the consumption patterns and cultural tastes of Venezuelan society have been shaped by RCTV's programming. Thus, the protests against non-renewal of RCTV's concession have not been altogether surprising. As Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez recently remarked, "There's no revolution that isn't tumultuous."

What's most interesting about the photos of the recent protests, however, is that the symbols employed by the protesters are clearly designed for foreign consumption. The protesters paint peace signs on their hands, hand out flowers to riot police, and fly banners in English and Portuguese to communicate to the outside world. It's sort of like a cheap take-off on the Prague Spring or Berkeley in the '60s. Like most of what the Venezuelan opposition does, the protesters' symbols are completely unoriginal. Moreover, the protests' orientation toward foreign audiences is a clear sign of the opposition's elitism and political desperation; knowing full well that the Chavez government enjoys overwhelming popular support, the opposition constantly pleads for the outside world to rescue it from... democracy.

Posted by: b real | Jun 5 2007 14:23 utc | 1

It looks like the revolution really won't be televised in Pakistan; but nonetheless Musharraf ramps up the repression, and will likely provoke a real backlash in his country. In Venezuela, Chavez has a revolutionary program that is still operating within the parameters of democracy; and he functions with the legitimacy of his elective office.

Violence and coercion are the hallmarks of societies that are truly turning toward repression of speech. Putin's Russia is another example, where it's definitely not safe to be a critic of the regime, and gendarmes raid the offices of dissident publications.

Chavez is a decent man, in my estimation. And I would agree with others who have commented here, that the dispute over RCTV losing its license has been twisted and distorted for propaganda purposes. Let's be careful though about falling head over heels in love with any revolutionary movement. "Excess will always live in the heart of Man, in the place where solitude is"...if you remember your Camus.

However pure the original moment of "revolt" (if I may return to Camus), people who are swept away with these passions can end by obliterating the very instincts and moral values that represented the revolution and its goal of establishing justice and promoting the common good. A revolution against unchecked corporate greed, political corruption, and the rapacious class division that is wired into globalization and the destructive manipulation of capital, and the revolution against violence and coercion that is waged against empire and its brutalization--this is all a worthy goal of political unity--and deserves all our efforts and faith and solidarity.

But be sure not to forget the dangers that beset revolutions, the dangers that arise within them: the intoxication of power over others, as it concentrates in the hands of the few, or the one. And there are the ideological dangers too, of enforced conformity, dogma. and sterile uniformity that can destroy art, destroy dissent, and erase even the concept of the unique freedom of the mind.

Posted by: Copeland | Jun 5 2007 17:43 utc | 2

Chavez scares liberals who don't understand politics - who think it's a parlor game with polite conversation and monopoly money. The people in the White House are willing to kill millions to achieve their goals, and liberals fret over a coup-supporting TV station ? While American middle class liberals have wrung their hands over Bush the last 6 years, Chavez has gone about making the vast majority of Venezuelan peoples lives better.

Posted by: folkers | Jun 6 2007 0:23 utc | 3

found this humorous in a frustrating way

The United States and Venezuela clashed sharply yesterday at a special session of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Panama. After US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice requested that an OAS mission be sent to Caracas to investigate the case of the private television channel RCTV, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro responded by calling it an "unacceptable intervention" in the internal affairs of Venezuela and accused Washington of heading a new destabilization plan against the government of Hugo Chavez.

In her speech on Monday at the 37th General Assembly of the Organization of Americas States, Rice requested that General Secretary of the OAS, Jose Miguel Insulza, travel to Venezuela to make a report about Chavez’s decision to not renew the broadcast license of RCTV.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro responded to Rice's statement declaring that "the intervention of the United States representative constitutes an unacceptable intervention in the internal affairs of a democratic, sovereign republic."
"The OAS would have to make a special commission in order to study the daily violation of human rights along the southern borders of the United States," he replied denouncing "the wall of indignity" that Washington is building along the border with Mexico.

Maduro also made reference to the violation of human rights that takes place in the military base of Guantanamo, Cuba. "How many prisoners do you have in the Guantanamo prison, we ask the government of the United States. How many are there? Who are they? Do they have the right to a trial? Where did you kidnap them from? Do they have due process? Men and women, without a face, without a name, kidnapped," said Maduro who went on to denounce a "new destabilization plan" behind which is the government of the United States.

Maduro emphasized that Rice had "violated the agenda of the General Assembly," and reminded the ministers that the central topic of the meeting was "energy for sustainable development."

Secretary of State Rice responded by saying that the United States has a "free and independent" press which "debate and criticize" the government.

"On any issue, I am quite certain that it would be difficult for any commission to debate more fully, to investigate more fully, to criticize more fully the policies of the United States government than is done every night on CNN, on ABC, on CBS, on NBC and on any number of smaller channels in the United States," said Rice. "The citizens of the United States have that assurance. I sincerely hope that the citizens of Venezuela will have that assurance as well," she continued.

Rice then got up and left the meeting without listening to Nicolas Maduro's response. Maduro continued to emphasize the violations of human rights on the part of the United States in secret prisons around the world and he also emphasized that Venezuela sees itself on equal terms with the United States.

U.S. and Venezuela Clash at OAS Meeting

it's not surprising that rice walked out w/o listening. look, this is a lady that barely has a grasp of u.s. history, let alone russian. she operates from a bubble. it's quite ridiculous for a govt official to assert anywhere that CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, etc robustly debate, investigate, & criticize even one single thing this govt does. if that were indeed the case, these fuckers would have been locked away years ago. ladies & gentlemen, i rest my case.

Posted by: b real | Jun 6 2007 3:42 utc | 4

lol ! brilliant. i love it when politicians have the balls to castrate ms rice/US in public. let's slam that little bitch for walking out.

i haven't been much fun lately and as a result i am not commenting much. nontheless, i am quite thankful you are all here entertaining me. b, hats off to you, great post as usual.

drinks on the house! hear ye!

Posted by: annie | Jun 6 2007 5:12 utc | 5

we'll see how much "concern" the u.s. really shows over this, seeing as how they share responsibility for the situation in somalia & back an unpopular govt that only exists to this day b/c of foreign support, but..

Somalia FM stations closed down; US shows concerns over the closure

Mogadishu 06, June.07 ( Sh.M.Network) Shabelle Media Network has received a government decree from the prime minister’s office, ordering the closure of the station.

The Somali government has issued the decree to close down three main FM stations in the capital. The decree orders Shabelle Media Network, Horn Afrik and IQK (The holy Quran Media) to shut down.

The transitional government accused the three stations of backing what it called terrorists and their actions.

The decree said the stations were creating hostilities and supporting terrorism.

“They have breached the rules of the free media, confused the Somali population and opposed the existence of the Somalia government,” the decree said.

These three radios have been ordered to shut down twice in the past as the Somali government accused them of exaggerating the government and Ethiopian military operations in Mogadishu, the Somali capital.
Radio Warsan in Baidoa was closed two days ago after the government administration in the farming town issued the decree to shut the FM down.

since when is an insurgency against a warlord govt, it's army, & occupying forces considered "terrorism"? i realize that the TFG is scared that ethiopian troops may pull out, leaving them entirely vulnerable in a hostile region, but they should not confuse being "terrified" of majority consensus w/ "terrorism".

Posted by: b real | Jun 6 2007 14:26 utc | 6

The CFR controls American media?

Perhaps, they want to control the worlds media?

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jun 6 2007 14:37 utc | 7


"Chavez scares liberals who don't understand politics - who think it's a parlor game with polite conversation and monopoly money. The people in the White House are willing to kill millions to achieve their goals, and liberals fret over a coup-supporting TV station ?"

just thought this is worth repeating.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Jun 6 2007 19:48 utc | 8

It's just that Pervez's effectiveness is diminishing. We have to make room for a new strongman and we don't want impressionable children to get upset when we have to blow his helicopter out of the sky.

Posted by: teletubby | Jun 6 2007 23:07 utc | 9


i find chavez & morales in bolivia truly impressive leaders of countries & movements. they are both made up of their people in a way leaders in latin america have not been.

allende was a beautiful man but a naive one - it is a necessary predicate against u s power - to arm the people

we are witnessing today in venuezala but also in urugauy & in bolivia - destabilisations that are clearly directed from washington

soon daniel ortega will feel the american heel in nicaragua

whatever is happening in latin america, the truly extraordinary flowering of people's movements is only possible because the u s empire is busy elsewhere & that there exists a very substantial risks for them that movement of the left in mexico will get stronger

the people who are marching in the streets in caracas( & notably only in caracas) are just the same as those traitors who marched in the streets against allende in chile & who were instrumentalised by the war criminal kissinger & his local lackeys. they represent the past which is past tho they present themselves, as always - as a better future

the future slowly & awkwardly belongs to the people & we are seeing a hint of this in central & latin america. we are watching a mass of people who express a courage that shames those of us in the west who have allowed ourselves to be sidelined by tyrants & traitors

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Jun 7 2007 0:40 utc | 10

The battle over the media is about race as well as class

The debate in Venezuela has less to do with the alleged absence of freedom of expression than with a perennially tricky issue locally referred to as "exclusion", a shorthand term for "race" and "racism". RCTV was not just a politically reactionary organisation which supported the 2002 coup attempt against a democratically elected government - it was also a white supremacist channel. Its staff and presenters, in a country largely of black and indigenous descent, were uniformly white, as were the protagonists of its soap operas and the advertisements it carried. It was "colonial" television, reflecting the desires and ambitions of an external power.

At the final, close-down party of RCTV last month, those most in view on the screen were long-haired and pulchritudinous young blondes. Such images make for excellent television watching by European and North American males, and these languorous blondes are indeed familiar figures from the Miss World and Miss Universe competitions in which the children of recent immigrants from Europe are invariably Venezuela's chief contenders. Yet their ubiquity on the screen prevented the channel from presenting a mirror to the society that it sought to serve or to entertain. To watch a Venezuelan commercial station (and several still survive) is to imagine that you have been transported to the US. Everything is based on a modern, urban and industrialised society, remote from the experience of most Venezuelans. Their programmes, argues Aristóbulo Istúriz, until recently Chávez's minister of education (and an Afro-Venezuelan), encourage racism, discrimination and exclusion.

Posted by: b | Jun 7 2007 7:35 utc | 11


who could possibly object to seeing more beautiful Black & Brown babes on Spanish TV, enough of the monotonous soap-opera clorox blonde -- all day long.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Jun 7 2007 22:45 utc | 12

Isolated Musharraf suspends media curbs as anger grows on streets and in ruling party

The Pakistani government was forced into a dramatic climbdown yesterday as the political crisis surrounding President Pervez Musharraf deepened, with international condemnation of harsh new media laws and the first signs of serious dissent within his own party.

As thousands of people demonstrated in four cities - some in defiance of a ban - the government overturned a decree signed by Mr Musharraf on Monday empowering the government to close television stations, revoke licences and impose large fines. The decree brought international protests. Human Rights Watch said it would "muzzle" the free press and European ambassadors issued a rare statement of concern. The prime minister, Shaukat Aziz, responded by suspending the decree yesterday.

Musharraf is toast ...

Posted by: b | Jun 8 2007 8:18 utc | 13

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