Freedom of Expression Venezuela-styled

Yesterday Prosecutor General Luisa Ortega Díaz gave a speech to the National Assembly where she talks about the "Special Media Crime Bill" she is introducing. Journalists and others who, according to the socialist government of Chávez, "create unrest or dispair among the population" would face several years in prison. For the details, I ask you to read the blogs of Caracas Chronicles, Daniel Duquenal or The Devil's Excrement.

Among other things, Ortega is proposing prison terms for up to four years for those who would transmit news that would 'cause panic among the population' or 'create a false perception of facts' or 'create fear among the population' or 'promote hatred or hostility'. I completely agree hatred speeches should not be tolerated. Now, there is a huge difference between what the Chavista government and normal democracies à la Norway or Germany think are hatred speeches.

I wrote a post in Spanish about what we, Venezuelan citizens, can do now.

Here I just want to ask politicians and journalists from other countries who are involved with Venezuela to seriously do the following:

  1. find out from different sources what is the proportion of Venezuela's population that the Chavez-critical media can reach (not just in Caracas, Maracaibo or Valencia)
  2. find out what chances Venezuelans critical of Chávez have to debate in the state TV and radio stations
  3. find out how many hours a week the Venezuelan media is forced to broadcast Chávez speeches
  4. find out about attacks on Venezuelan journalists and last, but not least:
  5. follow all the hatred speeches Chávez is giving about how he will anihilate the opposition, wipe out the people who think different than he does and who consider Venezuela should be a country where pluralism reigns. Here just a couple of examples:
I still am amazed at how the European Union and the Carter Centre based part of their reports on media in Venezuela on what they could watch from their cable TV in their nice Caracas hotels in 2004 and 2006. They apparently did not know Venezuela had a democracy before Chávez, even if it was very dysfunctional, and people were used to a bigger freedom of speech, unlike in Soviet and later Lukashenko Belarus or Pinochet Chile. Media in Venezuela, specially TV and radio, suck big time, whether it is pro-Chávez or not (Globovisión and RCTV, with little reach, are the only TV stations that currently are critical of the regime). This won't make things better.

One thing the Prosecutor's speech showed me is that she is absolutely sure Chavismo will rule for decades in Venezuela. Otherwise, she would be afraid about getting prosecuted later on for what is about to happen in our land of Grace.

Below you see the Freedom of Expression world map from the Freedom House.