By Jeremy Morgan
Latin American Herald Tribune staff
CARACAS – Opponents of President Hugo Chávez’ hostility towards the independent media assembled to march from Plaza Brión in Chacaito to the headquarters of the National Telecommunications Commission (Contael) in La Floresta.
The march was chiefly in support of Globovisión, the private sector that’s not afraid of being critical of President Hugo Chávez and his government and has become the object of unwanted attention from the government as a result.
As usual when two or more Caraqueños gather together, the noise was at top volume as music blared out and self-important men bellowed motivational slogans. Macho men in blue on motor bikes peremptorily bullied and barged their way through the fringes of the crowd, apparently regardless of life and limb.
No, these weren’t the Metropolitan Police. They were from Civil Protection. The cops were all lined up ready for action, were that to be necessary, a block away.
In the end, their attention wasn’t needed in Chacaito as the protesters left in good order for Conatel. Some of the cops looked a bit disappointed. Permission for the march had been granted that morning.
Earlier, Marcel Granier, president of the 1BC media group, said that Radio Caracas Televisión (RCTV), a private channel whose broadcasting licence wasn’t renewed by President Hugo Chávez two years ago, vowed to continue the battle in the courts both at home and abroad.
Speaking at a press conference after appearing on a Globovisión early morning program, Granier lambasted the government as a “dictatorship of military cut” that was out to shut up journalists and the media.
Evidently, in this instance, that hadn’t quite happened, or at least not yet, but both the government’s supporters and critics believe the closure of Globovisión is imminent.
Removed from the airwaves, RCTV switched to broadcast by cable and satellite. The station continues to churn out a long list of programs for the domestic and export markets, including soap operas which are said to attract a healthy share of the public’s attention and appetite.
On Tuesday, National Assembly President Cilia Flores, a powerful figure in the president’s ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), called on the State Prosecutor’s Office to investigate Globovisión President Gullermo Zuloaga.
Flores congratulated Interior and Justice Minister Tarek El Assaimi on a raid earlier this week on property belonging to Zuloaga. Officials claimed to have found a large number of cars there, which they say were being hoarded for later sale at high prices.
However, opinion at the legislature, where the PSUV and its minnow allies wield an irrefutably huge majority, wasn’t entirely unanimous on the matter of the raid led by Commerce Minister Eduardo Samán, who says Zuloaga should be behind bars.
Deputy Juan José Molina of Podemos, the social democratic party that once supported Chávez but is now in almost sole opposition in the chamber, said that what actually needed to be investigated was the raid itself.
What Molina wanted to know was whether or not all had been in order with the vehicles. Zuloaga insists it was. PSUV cannon fodder deputies blasted Molina as an “anti-patriot.”
Flores is contending with a minor backroom rebellion with two small allied parties, Para Para Todos (PPT) and the Venezuelan Communist Party (PCV), over a Bill setting out a new Electoral Processes Law.
Both parties have voiced concern that the law will effectively exclude minorities from representation as the PSUV rules the roost. This echoes their complaints about the PSUV hogging the nomination of candidates for the last parliamentary elections.
Flores said PPT and the PCV were not to worry because would have their chance to speak during the debate. But as Podemos has found to its cost, that didn’t mean anybody from the PSUV would actually be listening.