Archive for April 5th, 2007

Notes from the Holy illogic revolution

April 5, 2007

Even during Easter week, called Holy week in Spanish, the revolution never stops in surprising us with its use of logic:

—The head of Civil Protection, the same one that said yesterday that accidents this year were running 38% above last year’s levels, said today that the alcohol prohibition had reduced traffic accidents. I guess the logic must be that if they had not prohibited alcohol, they would be running at 50% more than last year. Well, I propose the following improvised experiment next year to see if Venezuelans drive better under the influence: Let alcohol be sold 24 hours a day, if accidents drop, we know the answer, if they don’t, we can try a different improvised experiment two years from now.

—And a Court let the 29 jailed suspects of helping former Governor Lapi escape free, because the Prosecutor could not provide any evidence that they were involved. I think the Court was wrong, I am sure at least one of them had something to do with it, they should give the Prosecutor time to come up with the evidence like in the Anderson assasination case, where after two and a half years there is still no evidence, but there are a few people charged for the crime and even in exile. By the way, did you hear that the star witness in that case was caught with an illegal weapon and with a fake credential of being a member of military intelligence? This is the guy that never lies…

—Finally, Gral. Francisco Uson, who was jailed for five years for expressing a technical opinion, which somehow is not a violation of free speech for this autocratic Government, had his rights violated again yesterday when the Head of the jail where he is interned denied him visitation rights for writing a letter to TV station RCTV supporting them in their case against the Government that wants to revoke its concession. I guess Gral Uson has not learned his lesson and know that only Chavistas are allowed to have opinions. Recall it was only a week ago that the Prosecutor General said there was no crime by the Deputies who called for ignoring a Supreme Court decision, as this was simply an “opinion”. Uson’s lawyers went to the People Ombudsman, where he got no support. I guess the meaning of the word “people” is as restricted as that of “opinion” in the revolution.

Revisiting the arbitrary decision by Hugo Chavez’ Government to shutdown TV station RCTV

April 5, 2007


In December President Hugo Chávez announced that the Government would
not be renewing the concession for TV channel RCTV, after more than 50 years in
the air. It was the end of years of threats against the media, including very
direct threats such as the day Chávez pointed a rifle at the RCTV camera and
suggested he could shoot the camera down at a large distance.

While I have outlined the legal arguments before, I thought it would be interesting
to go over them in detail in simple fashion, given the recent events against
the TV channel and the approaching date for the cancellation of the concession.

The Government argues that the concession of RCTV was renewed in 1987
for twenty years under a decree ( No. 1577) published in May of that year and
thus it can simply let the concession expire. This is the only legal argument
provided by the Government. However, article 4 of that same decree says
explicitly that after the first twenty years, the concession will be extended
for another twenty years “as long as the regulations on telecommunications
matters have been fulfilled

Thus, not renewing the concession would require that CONATEL, the
telecom regulator, prove that RCTV did not fulfill all of the requirements of
the regulations and give RCTV the chance to defend itself. This has not occurred, nor has
the company been sanctioned for violating either the Organic Law of Telecommunications
or the Social Responsibility law.

In fact, application of the 1987 decree to RCTV can not be justified, if
it is not applied to all TV stations, since it should be equal to all of them
that the 20 years expire for RCTV, the Government’s TV station VTV or any other
station. It would also apply to all radio stations in the country. Why the
differentiation?

But on top of that there is the fact that a new Telecom law came into
effect in 2000, which required all TV stations to convert their concessions
before September 2002, by requesting the conversion in front of the regulator
and the Ministry. RCTV as well as all other TV stations submitted all of the
paperwork, but only one of them (Venevision) has been informed of the
conversion. However, they have all operated for four years, paid the required
taxes under the telecom law and has participated in all of the activities
required by CONATEL as a holder of a valid concession.

Fulfilling the requirements for conversion under the 2000
Telecommunications bill implies that RCTV’s concession was automatically
renewed for twenty more years or until 2002. Under Venezuelan legislation, since the change was manadtory, a reason had to be given for not coverting the title of the concession, thus not replying in itself could be legally interpreted as the change being approved, not only for RCTV but for all TV stations that did not receive a reply (All but Venevision).

Thus, the conclusion is very simple from a legal point of view, if
decree 1577 from 1987 is applied, there has been no formal proceeding against
RCTV that would justify not extending the concession and it is an outright lie
that the Government is simply letting the concession die. If, on the other
hand, the 2000 Organic Telecommunications Bill is applied, the Government has
allowed RCTV to switch its concession title not only by the fact that it never
responded to the company’s submission of the required paperwork, but also by
the fact that for four years after the deadline for the conversion, the
Government ahs recognized RCTV as having a legal concession.

Thus, the Government the decision by the Government represents a
violation of RCTV’s rights to due process, it is being discriminated against
and it represents a violation of freedom of speech as it represents an abuse of
official controls as typified in the Inter American Human Rights convention.

Thus, the Government of Hugo Chávez hides behind a smokescreen,
encouraging its hoodlums to attack that station as
detailed in Publiuspundit
and even
“invites” them
using the official TV channel to go and participate in these
acts of fascism.

No rule of law, human rights violations, no due process and state
sponsored fascist attacks on the media.

Not precisely the definition or hallmarks of a democratic Government, no?.

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