Communist Dictator Chavez Destroys Freedom of the Press in Venezuela


   Supporters of freedom in Venezuela protesting communist dictator Chavez’s shutting down the television network that dared to criticize him.  Source of photo:  online version of the NYT article that is quoted and cited below. 


My Wabash College economics professor, Ben Rogge, used to say that political freedom ultimately depended on economic freedom:  how could you depend on a socialist government to provide a printing press to those who seek to undermine socialism?

(In his article "The Case for Economic Freedom" published in his Can Capitalism Survive? Rogge gives credit for the argument to his friend Milton Friedman in his Capitalism and Freedom, which was based on lectures given at Wabash.)

Well, if there is a heaven, I can imagine Rogge there, reading the following passages, and reacting with his sad, knowing, half-smile.


(p. A3)  CARACAS, Venezuela, May 27 — With little more than an hour to go late Sunday until this country’s oldest television network was to be taken off the air after 53 years of broadcasting, the police dispersed thousands of protesters by firing tear gas into demonstrations against the measure.

. . .

The president has defended the RCTV decision, saying that the network supported a coup that briefly removed him from office in 2002.

RCTV’s news programs regularly deride Mr. Chávez’s Socialist-inspired transformation of Venezuelan society. “RCTV lacks respect for the Venezuelan people,” said Onán Mauricio Aristigueta, 46, a messenger at the National Assembly who showed up to support the president.

Mr. Chávez has left untouched the operations of other private broadcasters who were also critical of him at the time of the 2002 coup but who have changed editorial policies to stop criticizing his government. That has led Mr. Chávez’s critics to claim that the move to allow RCTV’s license to expire amounts to a stifling of dissent in the news media.

“The other channels don’t say anything,” said Elisa Parejo, 69, an actress who was one of RCTV’s first soap opera stars. “What we’re living in Venezuela is a monstrosity,” she said at RCTV’s headquarters on Sunday, as employees gathered for an on-air remembrance of the network’s history. “It is a dictatorship.”


For the full story, see: 

SIMON ROMERO.  "Dueling Protests Over Shutdown of Venezuela TV Station."  The New York Times  (Mon., May 28, 2007):  A3.

(Note: the excerpts above are from the updated online version of the article that appeared online under the title: "Venezuela Police Repel Protests Over TV Network’s Closing.")

(Note:  ellipsis added.)


On 5/28/07 CNN broadcast a Harris Whitbeck report on students protesting the Chavez censorship under the title "Hear No Evil, See No Evil."


   Monica Herrero protests Chavez closing down the television network that dared to criticize his government.  Source of photo:  screen capture from the CNN report at


Passport Fiasco Would Bankrupt a Private Company, But Government Lumbers On


Here is an email that I sent to Congressman Lee Terry’s office on Sat., March 24, 2007: 


I applied for a passport renewal on January 20, 2007.  The web form said that it would take about six weeks.  Later, on the web site they increased that to eight weeks.  Then 10 weeks.  The trip was scheduled for April 3rd, and as the weeks passed, my stress increased enormously.  I would have been willing (not happy, but willing) to pay the extra $60 for "expedited" service, if I had known they were going to lengthen the time for routine handling by a month.  But they only passed out that information after it was too late to do anything about it.  Insult was added to injury when the State Department passport office was unwilling to answer their phone after many tries at times ranging from early in the morning until a few minutes before midnight (eastern time).  Each time, a recorded voice would say:  visit the web site, or try to call later.  (But the web site did not have the answers to my questions, and calling "later" never worked.)

There is no excuse for the State Department not anticipating that there would be a huge increase in demand for passports when they put into effect the new mandate that passports be used to re-enter the U.S. from Mexico.  If a private business operated with the inefficiency of the passport office, they would justly go bankrupt. 

The only ray of sunlight in this dark vista was "Susie" of Lee Terry’s office.  When I called the Omaha office they put her on the line, and she asked me relevant questions, and proceeded to get back to me the same day with what I needed to know.  She got through to an actual human being at the State Department, and learned that I would receive my passport in a few days.  (I received it yesterday.)  "Thank you" to Susie, and thank you to Lee Terry, for having an office staffed with competent people, who care.


Art Diamond