Luke Weyland commented on a previous post about the latest actions in Ecuador against the media. I thought it deserved a large response than just using the comment section of the discussion board.
What about press freedom in Peru, Colombia, and Honduras (post June) – journalists journalists tortured and killed by government forces, TV and radio stations closed down. – This happened in Venezuela in Carmona’s 2 day directorship but never under Chavez. Chavez never closed down any press – he merely resumed control over state government own facilities which the media long ago ceased having any legal right over.
We need to go straight to the heart of the matter. Just because there is not a posting about what goes on somewhere it does not mean anyone on this committee endorses the actions of that government. We are a group of volunteers with real jobs that often have little to do with following human rights issues. As we come across issues or as issues come to our attention, we publicize them.
At my own blog, I have been highly critical of any form of government that restricts freedom of the press. Here are two such postings:
I have little love for any of the governments in the countries mentioned in Weyland’s posting. Harassment of journalists by government and private organizations continues. Corruption and self-censorship are common in all of these countries. Much of this is because of weak legal institutions in the countries. Some governments are working to make reforms that mean something – like Colombia – while others just ignore the issue. Or aggravate it.
But I want to address the point that Weyland and many supporters of Hugo Chavez constantly say: “Chavez never closed down any press.”
The facts just don’t bear that out.
From Reporters Without Borders
Some of the closed broadcast units were allowed back on the air but only after they agreed to broadcast only the government line.
The issue is press freedom, not whether stations or newspapers are allowed to operate but how free from government interference they are allowed to operate.
Chavez and his fellow travelers in Honduras (pre-coup), Ecuador, Bolivia and Argentina have shown all taken steps to tighten control of news outlets and the content of the news.
One other note about why people are concerned about Venezuela. According to Freedom House, Venezuela and Cuba are the only Non-Free countries in this hemisphere.
And just for the record, here are the rankings of these countries from a couple of organizations that pay attention to such things (In each case, the lower the number the better.):