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State sponsored terrorism in Chavez´s Venezuela

By Aleksander Boyd

06.07.07 - Venezolana de Television, VTV or canal 8 as commonly known, is a Venezuelan TV station owned, controlled and operated by the Venezuelan state. Given that the Venezuelan state is no more, it could easily be argued that VTV is in fact but one of the many media outlets under Hugo Chavez´s boot. Beyond its inception’s goals and theoretical definitions of being a state funded, public network at the service of all Venezuelans, VTV has become a den of competing sycophants in a chronic and desperate attempt to outdo one another over who can stick its head deeper into the caudillo´s bowels. One of the leading figures is a man known as Mario Silva, who presents a programme called La Hojilla (razorblade). All manner of baseless, unsubstantiated accusations and propaganda of the crudest sort are the daily themes of the show in which revolutionary figures, such as Eva “la gringa” Golinger, are given exposure -at tax payers´ expense- to utter their nonsense.

Noticiero Digital (ND) on the other hand is the pet project of Frank de Prada, a Spaniard established a while ago in Venezuela, whose journalistic instinct and acumen led to capitalize on the intrinsic bent for gossip and exploit the sorry characters that dot Venezuela´s political arena. The result, ND, has been one the world´s most successful public electronic forums whereby supporters and foes of Chavez get to discharge the commonly shared hatred towards the other party. Having opened a can of uncontrollable worms de Prada sold the website to a group of opposition folks that appointed Roger Santodomingo as its editor.

I met with Roger several times during my last visit to Venezuela, for instance during his interview with Doug Schoen. The one thing he never stroke me for was him being a crazed anti-Chavez fellow; one of those convinced that the caudillo must be killed, the sooner the better. On the contrary he was, or still is, one of Teodoro Petkoff´s protégés, consequently the erstwhile guerrillero´s soft approach vis-à-vis chavismo was not only shared but evident. Also known and public my disagreements with him with regards to his take on the illegal termination of RCTV´s broadcasting license.

Though the issue here is none of that, but rather how the State, read Chavez, has allowed one of its henchmen to make use of a national television channel to accuse and smear Roger with the typical canard about treason to chavezland, being a paid agent of the empire, etc. (welcome to the club Roger).

Silva, as a fine exponent of chavismo, has never produced evidence to support his tendentious accusations. However that is a non issue for in a dictatorship the word of party apparatchiks is more than enough proof.

The issue here is how a State sponsors terrorism against its citizens. Notorious are the days when Chavez halted commercial and diplomatic relations with Colombia over the capture of an internationally wanted narcoterrorist from the FARC, Rodrigo Granda that is. Equally notorious his cosying up to rogue regimes and dictatorships; his violent nature and military undertakings; his favouritism for unconditional radicals. Chavez has called in to Mario Silva´s programme and, to his own admission, he watches it regularly.

A deranged follower, or a few, decided to take things further and gave a letter to Roger´s 8 year old son Simon –during school hours, in which a dead threat is almost explicitly conveyed. The message is startling: shut up or be prepared to spare your son´s life. Then the threat was made even more real: Roger´s car, parked outside his residence, was set on fire.

This is Hugo Chavez´s Venezuela folks, where one´s is allowed to have an opinion as long as it does not clash with the regime´s line, as media mogul Gustavo Cisneros can tell us. Roger, his son Simon, and his family are only the last examples of what will become a growing list of victims of terrorism exerted by the very State that is meant to protect them.

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