This Day of the Journalist is the toughest one yet

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CIcINMOWgAAHfBJ.jpg largeJune 27th was Day of the Journalist in Venezuela and instead of being simply an occasion to celebrate, it was a day to protest the continuous erosion of free press in the nation. Journalists and press workers took the streets on Friday to demand respect for free speech and to demand an end to the many threats and pressures they have been facing in recent times.

Both the hegemony and what’s left of independent media awarded what they consider as excellence in journalism: The central government gave their awards to mostly State Media and HegemonCorp. outlets, while the NGO Insituto Prensa y Sociedad (IPYS) recognized the best investigative works, including some from websites like RunRun.Es and Contrapunto.

I consider this latest Journalist’s Day as the most difficult yet, even more so than last year’s (which came right after the wave of protests). Why? Because the attacks in multiple fronts against the remains of the non-hegemony media landscape have intensified and this time they can’t hide under the “riots” excuse: Broadcasters have been muzzled, newspapers continue their struggle against Newsprint-geddon and even journalists’ physical and legal integrity are on a very high risk. Meanwhile, the hegemony has more than double its overall presence in the airwaves and the red bulldozer in the National Assembly pushes new restrictive legislation.

This week, the Alliance for Free Speech (formed by journalists, investigators, professors, NGOs and others) made public a strong statement, describing the difficult situation and asking for guarantees to fully perform their work.

Institutional violence, for omission and/or for deliberate action of the State, affects directly the professional performance of journalism and with it the democratic quality of society is hit as well. Restrictions to this right reduces the debate for the diagnosis and construction of solutions for the problems that Venezuelans suffer.

Every situation that a reporter cannot cover, if by restricting access, aggressions by functionaries or others, by stealing their work equipment, or by censorship, represents news that isn’t published or transmitted, and not received by citizens.”

International human rights groups like Human Rights Watch have noticed this too. Even Nicolas Maduro himself has sort-of admitted the existence of a state of censorship in Venezuela, even if he puts the blame on the media itself.

But the most worrying aspect now is that the Chavista model of comnunicational hegemony has been successfully exported to other Latin American countries in recent years and it’s been put into action by allied governments: From Rafael Correa’s draconian media law and the hefty fines that comes with it, to Cristina Kirchner’s embrace of the abuse of mandatory broadcasts (cadenas nacionales) and the use of the State media TV for her political ends. Even the HegemonCorp. model has been copied in Nicaragua by Daniel Ortega by buying newspapers, radio and TV stations.

But back home, everything’s not lost. Venezuelans have found new sources to get news thanks to the Internet. Beside the ones already mentioned, there has been a boom of new websites like El Estimulo, Cronica.Uno and El Cooperante. There’s even online Internet TV channels like VivoPlay. Here at Caracas Chronicles we have already written about two of the most prominent: Prodavinci and EfectoCocuyo. However, the hegemony has taken notice and increase efforts on the Internet and in the social networks.

If you want to read the Alliance for Free Speech’s statement in full, go here. You can even co-sign it, just like I did. Unfortunately, it’s only available in Spanish.

1 COMMENT

  1. Nosotro la gente sencilla de barrio no entendemos naa cuando hablan de hejemonia y vaina fina asi, suena como halmonia, y cosa guena. En la prensa y tooiticos los medio de comunicasion, radio y television lo que hay ej dictadura,chamo, dictadura, represion y opresion, sensura, mi pana. Mas’na. Por eso ej que a la gente le gusta mas como habla el gobielno clarito que aprendio de Chaves, que le prometio libertad de espresion y de too al pueblo, sin sensura ni amenasa, ni carcel, en criollo raspao, y la gente se lo creyo… Asi ej que la oposision le tiene que habla al pueblo pa que entienda!

  2. Speaking of journalism, I have been re-reading Blogging The Revolution, the e-book compendium of selected postings from Caracas Chronicles. An excerpt from a 2003 posting,
    The petrostate that was and the petrostate that is, caught my eye.

    The sharp spike in world oil prices since 2004 has given the petrostate a reprieve, but not a pardon. In a virtual re-run of the 1970s, a huge consumption boom is being financed with the extra money, along with a sharp spike in public sector debt. As the good times roll, Venezuelans have come to believe that Chavez made good on his promise. But it’s a reprieve that will last only as long as oil prices hold. And if there’s one thing we should’ve learned a long time ago it’s that gambling your entire strategy on the hope that oil prices will never fall is a deeply foolish thing to do.

    Prescient, chillingly prescient – even in a TX summer without AC. Not to mention a Maracucho summer. [Fortunately, the TX summer has thus far been wetter and cooler compared to the recent drought. Not bad, really.]

    Though how can an article written in February 2003 discuss “The sharp spike in world oil prices since 2004?”
    But I am quibbling. The article is worth reading and re-reading. I would say that if there is only one article to read to understand Venezuela, this is the one.

  3. The only problem with Journalism in Guisozuela is that there is no equal opportunity for women.

    We are working on a new Cuota Rebolusion Bolibanana para la mujer periodista.

    My bosses Jorgito y Diosdado will pass the law next week:

    – All Journalism schools and universities must admit at least 48.34%, PSUV registered, poor Female students. Regardless of grades or talent. Quien no cumpla: Expropiese.

    – All TV stations, radios or papers and magazines still able to function must have at 62.53% women on the payroll, sino, expropiese y cierre esa vaina.

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    These are not the only physical signs, but these are probably the ones you or her may notice.

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