Venezuela: confronting reaction

23 January 2010: Government supporters demonstrate in Caracas.

On Sunday 24 January, the Venezuelan government shut down Radio Caracas Television (RCTV) for persistent violation of the law of Social Responsibility in Radio and Television and of Cadena Nacional, a law pre-dating the Chavez government and requiring TV channels to broadcast important presidential speeches.

RCTV has repeatedly refused to broadcast speeches included under Cadena Nacional and has called for a violent overthrow of the government. RCTV claims to be an international channel and therefore exempt from national laws. On the contrary, 94% of its writers, actors and reporters are Venezuelan. Under the law, only channels that broadcast foreign programmes for 70% of the time or more are classed as international.

Despite warnings, RCTV owner Marcel Granier declared his channel would not obey the law. RCTV is the same channel that incited counter-revolution during the 2002 coup, broadcasting the lie that Chavez had resigned, and showing back-to-back movies and cartoons while violence erupted on the streets of Caracas during Chavez’s time in exile.

In response to the closure, opposition groups have mounted a campaign of violence. Student movements from the old universities, backed by the traditional parties such as Acción Democrática, mounted national protests, attacked other news channels and blocked roads. The United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and government supporters mobilised against this. In Merida , members of the opposition killed 2 students, including 16-year-old PSUV activist Yorsinio Carrillo Tomes.

The Venezuelan opposition is preparing for the National Assembly elections in September. Although it is fragmented and unlikely to gain success in the elections, its tactic is one of national destabilisation and disinformation with the intention of eroding majority support for the revolutionary process. This is class war!


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