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An Open Letter to the Frontline Club re RCTV

By Aleksander Boyd

29.06.07 - Recently I received an invitation from the Frontline Club to take part in a debate about RCTV. Being a London based media organization that, according to its programme manager, has “over 1000 members from all major UK and international media: BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera, CBC, Sky, Newsweek, The Economist, The New Yorker, all British quality dailies and Sunday papers, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune…” a keen interest on the topic of silencing a media outlet was to be expected. Marina Calland, programme manager, kindly asked me to participate stating “we would be absolutely delighted if you could take part in the discussion. We believe that you would greatly enrich the debate due to your extensive knowledge and experience on Venezuelan developments. Your decision to launch puts you in a particularly informed position to contribute to our discussion.”

To be frank I felt honoured by Marinaīs email and at the same time a bit overwhelmed by the responsibility of presenting a fair case for the curtailing of freedom of expression in my country. In any case I made my commitment of taking part in such a debate clear until I found out who was to defend Hugo Chavezīs case. As per the flyer produced by Frontline no Venezuelan was to take part in it. Rather a journalist from Channel 4 News and one of the leading cheerleaders of Chavez in Britain were to debate the issue, that was to be moderated by yet a third, presumably English, journalist from Open Democracy. Some debate, some will think, by a bunch of clueless people, whose knowledge of the situation is superficial at best or crude propaganda at worse.

What follows is an email exchange between myself and Marinaīs assistant. It is very telling that no Venezuelan, public servant or otherwise, seems to be willing to defend Chavezīs case in Londonīs Frontline Club. That role, as in different arenas in other parts of the world, is reserved to deranged non-Venezuelan fellows that speak for nothing other than the continuation of authoritarianism, repression of dissent and violation of human rights. And it begs the question: why should Venezuelans debate Venezuelan issues with people that havenīt got anything to do with Venezuela? With people that do not live the consequences of Chavezīs galloping megalomania? With people of extremely questionable credentials?


As per request of parties involved I am removing the exchange with Marina Callandīs assistant. Quite obviously something bigger is at play here, an intern of the Frontline Club gets to be in an awkward position due to the publishing of her opinions. Quite the Club eh? To those who have written to suggest that I should debate with the likes of Richard Gott, to "unmask" him before those attending, let me assure you, no such thing will ever happen for Gott is part of the establishment, honorary fellow of the University of London imagine that, former editor of the media that ousts democratically elected governments and sets the agenda here in Britain, The Guardian that is, until he had to resign upon discovery of his connections with the KGB. We have got enough traitors of our own for me to go waste my time with an English one.

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