Behold your saviour (or maybe dictator)

Tuesday, 24th April 2007 at 14:02 UTC 5 comments

Chavez.  Yes, the guy in Venezuela.  He done this thing right.  He shut down a private TV channel.  Now, I’m not saying that the TV men were any good or anything, but, like, I don’t feel too good about this.

Yes, my friends, Hugo Chavez, proclaimed as saviour of Latin America by so many on the left, has just shown us his darker side.  I don’t f—in care if the TV station in question was a mouth piece for right wingers who oppose his (and I mean this) brilliant social policies.

That the left should still be rallying behind someone like this to any extent is questionable.  Sure, we should oppose US interference; its virtually always been for the worst on that continent.   But I really do feel that its time that the left stood up against this man before he turns into an all out dictator.  Instead, I still see plenty of people rallying around him, supporting him no matter what.  Self-criticism of the left, it seems, is also to be frowned upon.

The problem I see with Chavez is this means-and-ends attitude that says if someone is saying something that prevents him getting the job done, then he should stop them getting in the way; by force if necessary.  Free speech and democracy are not just a convenient additions to a manifesto, they should be at the heart of any attempt to bring justice to the world.  Surely part of his job, if he’s really worth supporting, is ensuring these basic freedoms do exist, not taking them away.

So when you next here a leftist saying that we should support Chavez, ask them why we should support someone with all the makings of the next V I Lenin or, heaven forbid, Joe Stalin, because the same justification, that the means justify the ends, is becoming more and more prevalent in outworkings of the Chavez regime.  History is littered with people who have made similar justifications and sadly here we are listening to the same old story yet again.

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Entry filed under: Chavez, democracy, Free Speech, Human Rights, Latin America, Participation, Politics, Venezuela.

Monday Action: Continue Opposing the BNP Quick thoughts on false dichotomies

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. mennonot  |  Wednesday, 25th April 2007 at 6:36 UTC

    Free speech and democracy are not just a convenient additions to a manifesto, they should be at the heart of any attempt to bring justice to the world. Surely part of his job, if he’s really worth supporting, is ensuring these basic freedoms do exist, not taking them away.

    Well said Graham. I completely agree. I think its about time we heard some more lefties taking a stand on this ends justifying the means attitude. Hopefully it doesn’t signal a general trend among Latin American lefty leaders (Correa, Morales, Ortega).

    Reply
  • 2. Neil T.  |  Wednesday, 25th April 2007 at 7:51 UTC

    I’m afraid I have to agree with you. As much as I admire some of the things Chavez has done, some of the things I hear about him and the things he has done more recently scare me.

    Reply
  • 3. gringoinvenezuela  |  Wednesday, 25th April 2007 at 14:49 UTC

    You guys have no idea what you are talking about. You say that we must defend free speech and democracy. Right. So why the hell would you defend private corporate media? You need to ask yourselves this question. Does private corporate media provide free speech? Is private corporate media democratic??? Of course it is neither of those. Private corporate media provides ONE point of view that goes right in line with their economic interests. Is it democratic??? Corporate media is the most undemocratic thing in the world. It is a dictatorship. Do we have any right to participate in how private media functions, what they decide to cover, HOW they cover events? Not at all. This is all controlled from above, and everyone else must simply accept those decisions from above. That is a total dictatorship, not a democracy in ANY way.

    So, if you really want to defend democracy, you should agree to shutting down ALL corporate-owned media around the world.

    Chávez has decided to take away the broadcast license of this channel because they have committed crimes. Is it okay for a media to commit crimes? Should there not be punishment if they commit a crime? The channel has repeatedly distorted and lied about the reality in Venezuela. But, MOST OF ALL, they were involved in a 2002 coup against Chávez which overthrew him for 48 hours. Their manipulation made the entire country believe that the government had fired on innocent protesters, when that was a total lie.

    Then, two days later, the people took to the streets to demand the return of their popular leader, in one of the most historic events of Venezuelan history. What did this channel do? They refused to give the event any coverage, and they acted like everything was normal in the city while the streets were filled with Chávez supporters.

    As the president was brought back to power by the people, this channel claimed that nothing was happening in the country.

    Media should respond to the interests of the people, not to the interests of the wealthy corporate bosses.

    Reply
  • 4. Graham Martin  |  Wednesday, 25th April 2007 at 16:17 UTC

    Well, I’m glad to see this ‘other side’ point of view on here, though I still disagree. Yes, the corporate media are not to be trusted, but what you have failed to do is explain how Venezuela’s public media is any more participatory. I’m also aware that Chavez is quite controlling of the public broadcasting outlets; much more so than Blair is with the BBC.

    If individuals within the station have backed the coup, then those individuals are of course guilty of crimes, and should be tried in accordance with the law of the land: I’d assume they’d be jailed. However, when you come to silencing dissent (though maybe disinformation is a little different, but both are going on here) then you have a major problem on your hands. How far is too far?

    With Chavez investing so much in education (genuine point of praise, by the way) I’m left wondering why the public cannot be left to critically assess the media that they are presented with? Education and personal, rather than national, critical reflection are far more important in a democracy. I don’t see a lot of critical reflection in Venezuela; I see a lot of “we’re obviously right and you’re obviously wrong”. But then maybe thats me.

    On a side note, I was somewhat impressed with Chavez when I saw him, and his description of Bush as the devil at the UN was amazing. I just wish he didn’t do the means and ends thing that has dragged so many others down before him.

    Reply
  • 5. Jonathan  |  Friday, 27th April 2007 at 10:04 UTC

    that the private media in Venezuela (and elsewhere) are anti-democratic and should be opposed is pretty much self-evident, particularly looking at their recent role in Venezuelan politics.

    however, you (gringoinvenezuela) appear to be posing a false binary – either you are in favour of Chavez and his censorship of them, or you support the media and the coup. this is a mistake.

    my concern is less with the “rights” of said media and more with the precedent being set by recent actions. by allowing Chavez to take this kind of action against those he deems a threat, the possibility is opened up for similar future actions against other targets, either by him or by whoever takes over the office of president once he is gone.

    (this, incidentally, is one reason why the support from leftists for some state actions against groups such as the BNP makes me uncomfortable – today Griffin, tomorrow us?)

    ultimately, I really don’t understand how you can go from “I am opposed to the state having the power to shut down media outlets” to “I support the corporate media”. they are two very separate issues and trying to conflate them is dishonest to say the least.

    also, as Graham pointed out above – while corporate media is anti-democratic, state-run media is rarely much better.

    I’m not shedding any tears for the Venezuelan press. that does not prevent me from being concerned about some of the actions being taken by Chavez.

    Reply

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