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Montevideo, May 24th 2019 - 06:02 UTC

Hillary Clinton speaks out for freedom of expression and of the press

Thursday, July 9th 2009 - 12:51 UTC
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“Governments and political parties need constructive criticism” “Governments and political parties need constructive criticism”

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in favour of an adequate protection to the media in Venezuela, as well as in other countries. The US top diplomat considered that the freedom of expression and freedom of the press are fundamental values for democracy.

The statements were made in an interview with journalist Leopoldo Castillo, anchorman of TV program Aló Ciudadano, broadcasted in the Venezuelan private TV news channel Globovisión.

Clinton said that in a democracy the government and political parties need constructive criticism, because listening only to supportive opinions is like talking to themselves.

“When you're in politics sometimes and you think you're trying to do what is right for the people who you represent, it is easy to look at anyone who criticizes you as being out of bounds and that they have no right to do that. But you cannot let the political concerns of any party or candidate or elected official undermine the freedom of expression; because at the end of the process, whoever is elected and whoever is in office needs constructive criticism. Otherwise you are – it's like you're talking to yourself: Am I doing a good job? Oh, yes, you're doing a good job,” she said.

She considered that Latin America is facing the challenge of having people's rights respected, that there should be a separation of powers, and that different institutions within countries' governments have clearly defined roles that they are able to exercise.

”The US is against the arbitrary use and abuse of power (…) that would lead to political prisoners being confined,“ said the US Secretary of State.

”Democracy is not just about elections. Democracy is about how governments are organized, whether they are able to protect the rights of minorities, whether people of different political persuasions have the right to speak out without fear of being persecuted, whether there's an independent judiciary and an independent press. All of these are parts of what make democracies dynamic and lasting. So whenever one of those is under attack, others are often under attack as well.“

On Washington's policy toward Latin America and the challenge of 21st century Socialism, Clinton said that this proposal is attractive because Latin America has the largest wealth gap. Therefore, there is some legitimate questioning.

”But I'm one who believes that you should be very cautious about how you proceed because there are always unintended consequences. And I don't think using democracy to undermine democracy is a good idea. I don't think that being in a position of authority and then trying to prevent others from having the right to express themselves is a good idea,“ said the US Secretary of State.

Clinton expressed her support to a better relationship between Venezuela and the United States.

“We're trying to lower the temperature. We want to make it clear that there are ways for us to have a conversation with people we don't agree with on many issues,” said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, noting that what the White House hopes to see ”over the next months in Venezuela is a recognition that you can be a very strong leader and have very strong opinions without trying to take on too much power and trying to silence all your critics”.

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