By Jeremy Morgan
Latin American Herald Tribune staff
CARACAS – The Foreign Ministry reacted strongly to statements by senior media monitors at the United Nations and the Organization of American States (OAS) in which they had cast doubt on the government’s conduct towards Globovisión, the private sector all-news channel that often points out the Chavez government's failures.
In an official statement, the ministry complained that a joint statement by Frank La Rue of the United Nations and Catalina Botero of the OAS had been tantamount to “an attack by these organizations on a member state.”
Some television stations including Globovisión had “actively participated in coups d’etat,” the statement said, in a reference to the station’s broadcasting during the political crisis which briefly removed Chávez from office in April 2002.
These channels had also promoted violence and the assassination of the head of state, among other things, the ministry said. As to the National Telecommunications Commission (Conatel) carrying out inquiries about Globovisión and other broadcasters, this was above board, it maintained.
The Constitution stipulated that Conatel was obliged “to ensure that media promote the fundamental values of peace, co-existence and brotherhood among all the Venezuelans,” the ministry added.
Globovisión has long been at loggerheads with the government, and vice versa. Chávez has more than once spoken of closing the channel down, as he did with Radio Caracas Televisión (RCTV) by not renewing its licence to transmit over the airwaves just over two years ago. RCTV now has a limited audience, broadcasting only via cable and satellite.
Chávez has also threatened to walk out of the OAS, which doesn't include Cuba. He claims the organization is a puppet of Washington. He set up the Bolivarian Alternative of the Americas (ALBA) in what was seen as an attempt to undermine the OAS, and hence the United States, in the region. So far, the response from the region has been mixed.
The president is also said to harbor similar doubts about the United Nations, arguing that the days are long gone in which five countries should occupy permanent seats on the Security Council. He has called for a “more democratic” organization and structure to be introduced at the United Nations.
Chávez’s argument with the United Nations and the OAS about the media in Venezuela is unlikely to go away. In their joint statement, La Rue and Botero noted that on previous occasions they had “reminded the authorities of their obligation to respect freedom of expression of the media, and in particular, their editorial independence.”