The Brazilian Senate released a statement criticizing Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez for the measures implemented by his government against private media. The decision by the Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee could further delay Venezuela’s incorporation to Mercosur.
The statement following a “symbolic” vote was sponsored by the Senate president Jose Sarney in coordination with the committee and underlined its rejection to President Chavez attacks against “freedom of the press” and “freedom of speech”.
The committee only a few days ago repudiated what is described as an “authoritarian escalade” and the permanent harassment of the free press in Venezuela.
In a full session the Brazilian Senate voted a document saying that the current escalation against freedom of the press and speech in Venezuela began in 2007, when the administration of President Chavez did not renew the licence of the country’s main broadcasting company Radio Caracas Television, RCTV.
“Since then Chavez has intensified his campaign against freedom of the press, one of the pillars of democracy, and has since taken out of the air over 200 broadcasting stations”, said opposition Senator Flexa Ribeiro one of the sponsors of the condemnation vote.
“The Brazilian Senate needs to send a strong message in support of the reestablishment of full democracy in Venezuela” said Ribeiro.
With this attitude President Chavez confirms his intention “of denying the Venezuelan people and citizens their right to impartial news, which is one of the basic principles of a democracy, freedom of the press and of speech”.
Last month the Venezuelan government did not renew the licences of over 30 regional broadcasting and television media.
The Foreign Affairs committee is supposed to consider Venezuela’s controversial incorporation to Mercosur in the coming weeks.
The bill with the incorporation documents was sent by the Brazilian Executive to Congress in March 2007 but has faced innumerable setbacks. The initiative only managed a vote in the Lower House last December following strong lobbying from President Lula da Silva and the business community interested in having access to the Venezuelan market.
However the Brazilian Senate has been marred with on going corruption investigations involving mainly the upper house president Senator Sarney. President Lula da Silva’s support to his crucial Senate ally has divided the ruling Workers Party.
The incorporation of Venezuela was approved at a Mercosur presidential summit in 2006 but so far only the Argentine and Uruguayan legislatives have supported it.
The congress of Mercosur’s fourth full member Paraguay still has to vote on the issue.