Monday, February 10, 2014

Venezuela: Once Again, Castro Want-a-Be Attacks Media, Shortage of Newsprint

According to The Latin American Tribune, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, whose Socialist government is seemingly influenced dramatically by Cuba's Fidel Castro, said Friday (February 7) that he plans legislation aimed at ridding the media of "sensationalism," which appears to be “code” for dumping on what few rights journalists now possess in terms of “freedom of the press.”

"They will call me a dictator, that doesn't matter to me," he said during a public event in the central state of Miranda. "I will make very strict norms to end sensationalism and the campaign and propaganda that feeds on the blood and death it promotes."

COMMENT: Maduro has accused the "bourgeois press" of undermining efforts to combat a wave of violent crime, that Maduro conveniently underreports violent crime.

The leftist president also complains often that the owners of several major Venezuelan news outlets live outside the Andean nation.

Of course, the nagging question is why would they even consider living in Venezuela where they would be subjected to arrest, harassment and hassling?

"The owner of the Caracas daily, EL UNIVERSAL, lives in Miami…. He never comes to Venezuela…People who don't live in Venezuela should not own media organizations.”

Maduro then went on to intimate that it might be time to pass a law in Venezuela that prohibits media organizations publishers from living abroad if they don’t physically reside in the country.

After public threats from the late President Hugo Chávez, EL UNIVERSAL publisher Andrés Mata moved his family to New York for security reasons. Can you blame him?

The Venezuelan Government controls the television airwaves, where there are no opposition TV channels, yet leading newspapers such as EL UNIVERSAL, EL NACIONAL and THE LATIN AMERICAN TRIBUNE remain some of the few bastions of fair and balanced journalism left in the country.

Newspapers in Venezuela are also threatened by a lack of paper. The newspapers EL IMPULSO and CORREO DEL CORINO have only sufficient newsprint to publish their newspapers weekly, not daily.

EL SOL DE MATURIN, ANTORCH, CARIBE, LA HORA and VERSION all ceased publication in August 2013 and EL GUAYANES and EL EXPRESO closed earlier this month.

The US Department of State has designated Caracas and most other major cities as "Critical" risk on its four-tier threat categorization system of "Critical, High, Medium and Low." 

"Critical" threat for crime has prevailed during most of the Chávez and Maduro years.

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office warns that street crime in mainland Venezuela is high, and that armed muggings and "express kidnappings" are a common regular occurrences. 

Reportedly, in a country of 30 million, six million illegal firearms are in the hands of career criminals.

I continue to urge foreign travelers to AVOID all sections of Venezuela for tourism purposes.

Those who must travel to Venezuela on official business or on business should be advised that their personal security awareness should be their dominant focus.

For those that don't remember, Venezuela prior to Hugo Chávez emerging onto the scene, Venezuela was one of the most politically and economically successful countries in Latin America.

Unfortunately, in 1999, Chávez became president of Venezuela on the basis of a virtual dictatorship through 2013, when he died from cancer.