May 29, 2007

Mourning Venezuela's Freedom of Expression



This blog is about telenovelas, but I must write today about how freedom of expression is being severely eroded in my country.

Sunday, at midnight, Venezuelans saw a sad sucession of images on their television screens: the faces of RCTV's workers and friends singing the Venezuelan National Anthem were substituded with a black screen that signaled the end of 53 years of uninterrupted television. Seconds later the logo of TVES, the new government TV station, appeared on the screen.

A commercial, private media outlet has been substituted by a government-controlled one.

A friend told me that it feels as if Venezuela has been suddenly mutilated. It has lost an eye, an ear, and some of its voice.


Since Sunday night, the streets of Caracas and other major cities are smoldering with citizens, many of them students, who feel that the closing of RCTV is unacceptable and that the government has gone too far this time. Tear gas and plastic pellets are being used to "control" them. (Tonight there are more than 100 underage youngsters in jail in Caracas because they were protesting in the streets. At the time of this writing, their parents haven't been allowed to see them).

Meanwhile, the President, his ministers, and members of the unicameral and uni-ideological National Assembly, fill the airwaves threatening local and international media that define what happened to RCTV as a "closing." These public officers also trivialize and mock the reaction in the streets and universities as "weepy" and unrepresentative of the larger population , or condemn it as concocted by the "oligarchy" fueled by "imperialism."

And as the fire of polarization is being stoked, the division between government supporters and opponents is again evidenced. And this fracture that has broken my country into two is as sad as the overt attack on Venezuelans' freedoms.

7 comments:

Karen said...

Sad news, Carolina. I appreciate your passion for these events.

Dr. Carolina Acosta-Alzuru said...

Thanks, Karen. Venezuela, a gorgeous country doesn't look pretty these days.

Karen said...

But wait! There's still hope. It's moved to YouTube. Here's the story: http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/americas/05/31/venezuela.media/index.html

Anna said...

Well, the saddest thing of this whole situation is that Chavez has completely broken the Venezuelan population. If, indeed he was to step down(read killed) tomorrow we would have a blood bath. Chavez has gone deep into the core of the nation to successful divide and mutilate what once was a very united country. I lived in Venezuela my first 18 years and I never, ever felt any type of discremenation. Althought crime was always very rampant, we were a very united nation. I think that is going to be the saddest legacy of this so called democratic president. It hurts to see a once thriving nation being brought to just pure puppets of this demagogue. Ahh, just watching Globovision makes me ill. Knowing that the Venezuela that I knew and loved so dearly no longer exists. Knowing that my children will not be able to enjoy my Venezuela. May God help us and help our families and friends that are still in Venezuela.

Anna

Dr. Carolina Acosta-Alzuru said...

Karen, yes, the station is airing its newscast on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=elobservadorenlinea Brilliant!

But...people are missing their telenovelas, of course. And I know RCTV won't be able toplace them on youtube because that would hamper their international sales.

Meanwhile, the streets are still hot with protest. This time I really don't know where these events are heading.

Dr. Carolina Acosta-Alzuru said...

Anna, thanks for leaving your comment. And, take it from me, don't watch too much Globovisión because it can really heighten anxiety; and we, the ones who live outside, need to keep our heads as cool as possible, so we can see clearly and help our relatives and friends... and their children who are now spearheading the protest.

Anna said...

Carolina, I did finally stop watching Globovision last night, you are right, it will drive you up the wall.
BTW, found the Spanish version of your blog, way cool. I will post there next time ;-)

Thanks,

Anna