Venezuela called on the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, OAS, Jose Miguel Insulza to retract from censorship statements regarding the controversy over a television station license in Caracas.
The government of Venezuela rejects statements by Mr. Insulza that the decision of the government not to renew the license of Radio Caracas Television "gives the appearance of the form of a censorship". A Saturday release from the Venezuelan Foreign Affairs Ministry states the OAS Secretary General is unduly interfering in an issue "which is of strict competence of national authorities" and therefore exhorts retraction from statements that are "contrary to the truth and contrast with the equilibrium which must characterize who exercises such a delicate responsibility". The release adds that Mr. Insulza's words responds to "requirements and pressures" from national and international sectors that have made their intended objective "the disrepute of President Chavez government". In his statements Insulza said that the adoption of an administrative measure to close a news outlet gives the appearance of a form of censorship against freedom of expression and at the same time serves as a warning against other news organizations, leading them to limit their actions at the risk of facing the same fate. Venezuela warns that with such actions, the OAS Secretary General has incurred in flagrant violation of the OAS charter which calls on him to promote and defend democracy in the framework of the principle of non intervention. Insulza said that apart from any legal considerations related to this type of measure ÃÂ¢€" a matter he believes corresponds to the internal laws of each member state ÃÂ¢€" it is necessary to take into account the political repercussions that such a measure could bring about. The closing of a mass communications outlet is a rare step in the history of our hemisphere and has no precedent in the recent decades of democracy, he added. The Venezuelan government has justified its decision based on serious political accusations against the broadcasting station, ranging from its support of the frustrated military coup of 2002 to a systematic policy against the democratic process. Certainly these are serious accusations, Insulza maintained, but he added that on the one hand, the existence of a large number of media outlets is what allows for the widest diversity of opinions to be expressed; and on the other, if an illegal act has been committed, the appropriate path to take in a democracy is to bring charges against the presumed perpetrators within the justice system. Such a decision, Insulza warned, runs contrary to the political climate generated at the time of the December elections, when the opposition's recognition of President Chávez's victory seemed to open the door to a climate of dialogue and understanding among all Venezuelans. In that positive electoral process, the presence of a free and pluralistic press played a fundamental role. The Secretary General expressed his hope that this decision would be revised and that Radio Caracas Television would be allowed to continue broadcasting normally, in accordance with the will expressed by the government to protect democratic liberties. At the same time, he called on the news media to continue to exercise its role to inform in a truthful, free and objective manner that serves all citizens Finally the Venezuelan government regrets Insulza's lack of knowledge of the Venezuelan reality and demands from OAS Secretary General "strict respect for the legitimate and sovereign actions of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela".