VHeadline editor & publisher Roy S. Carson writes: I am increasingly alarmed, as are also many thousands of others, over the political misuse of a state news agency such as Venezuela's Agencia Bolivariana de Noticias (ABN)in the current run-up to November 23 local and regional elections. Any degree of customary journalistic objectivity in what is, after all, a state-owned organization has clearly gone out the window ... regrettably and undeniably negative to what President Hugo Chavez Frias had originally ambitioned as a peaceful revolution towards an egalitarian form of government under the acknowledged principles of Third Way Socialism, albeit with a Venezuelan twist to the tail.
Of recent date, ABN reports have been distinctly politicized -- generally in favor of the Chavez government but increasingly showing an abject hostility towards anything and everything to do with the political opposition which, whether ABN editorial managers wish to believe it or not, DO represent a significant section of the Venezuelan populace.
Certainly, just by an appreciation of a claimed 6.5 million membership of President Hugo Chavez' new United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) it leaves some eighteen and a half million Venezuelan souls (in a total population of some 25 million) outside of PSUV and, even if one takes the 16+ million voters whose names legitimately appear on the National Voters' Register, there are still around 10 million Venezuelans who DO NOT necessarily subscribe to the holy gospel according to PSUV.
Yet ABN reports, which are serviced to most -- if not all -- of Venezuela's newspapers, radio and TV stations, is substantially over laden with PSUV promotionals and outright negativity of any political action that has NOT received the official blessing of the PSUV ecclesiastics. Rather than being an official news agency in the sense that such are recognized around the world, ABN has become an additional mirror image of the Ministry of Communications & Information (MinCI) which has itself become so politically focused that it has lost all sight of serving the informational needs of the TOTAL population of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela as a civil service unit of government rightly should.
It's the same thing with state-owned Venezolana de Television (VTV) which would rather countenance condemnation to the flames of hell than to allow a regular member of the political opposition to steal air-time away from fawning over pro-Chavez activities to the complete abandonment of all else. Basically, though, it's all down to the self-serving incapacities of management executives who simply don't have a clue about rights and responsibilities in their Civil Service employ.
* They believe that strict control of the state-owned media to the subservient interests of the current administration is the Genesis, Leviticus and end-all of everything in their sorry existences.
There is NO QUESTION about what will happen when/if President Hugo Chavez ever loses the democratic presidency of Venezuela; there is NO QUESTION about what will happen with continuity of administration in any future regime change -- perhaps they do not envisage any electoral defeat for Chavez, any possible assassin's bullet ... or even that in a hundred years from now, President Hugo Chavez Frias' coffin may well be ceremoniously contained within the Pantheon Nacional. That the flesh and blood that is Chavez today may well live out its natural course since he is (perhaps difficult for them to admit) NOT immortal.
That is why it is so very very sad to see a cherished state news organization turned into a political megaphone for a transitory political mandate. Rationally, ABN should be used to inform the nation on ALL aspects of Venezuelan news! It should NOT become a further branch of a single political party ... but already the damage has been done!
Do Venezuelans really want Venezuela's own version of Reuters, AP, AFP, Xinhua, DPA etc., to continue with party political propaganda ... or do they want, as much as is ever possible, for their state-run news organization to at least attempt to maintain a middle-of-the-road balance WITHOUT political involvement?
Do Venezuelans really want state-run Venezolana de Television (VTV) to become a Fox News copycat with the only difference being a total and unmitigated bias to PSUV rather than Fox's pathetic bootlicking of the Bush dictatorship?
These and other questions need must be answered by the people of Venezuela themselves ... but how are they to become aware of the uses and abuses of their communications systems when intellectually they are challenged minute by minute, hour by hour and day by day to try to make up their own minds as to what is overladen opposition propaganda from the privately-owned or manipulated media and what is overladen pro-Chavez propaganda from the state-owned or manipulated media?
The situation is bedded for growing sectarianism and the TRUTH about what is actually happening in Venezuela at this crucial juncture in its evolving history is the first victim in the dagger and thrust of institutional control of Venezuelan hearts and minds. Sad, sad, sad!
Roy S. Carson