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MACK VS. VENEZUELA

by : William Fisher
Saturday July 30, 2005 - 18:49
5 comments
JPEG - 1.1 kb

By William Fisher

As some Latin American analysts complain that Washington has declared "electronic war" on Venezuela with a plan to target the country for special radio and television broadcasts, it remains uncertain whether the project will ever get off the ground.

If approved by a joint congressional committee, the broadcasts would be financed by the U.S. government and implemented through the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the quasi-independent corporation established to carry out Washington’s "public diplomacy" broadcasting programs worldwide.

"The BBG may want to start numerous new broadcast services, or revive VOA (Voice of America) services that have been canceled," said Adam Clayton Powell III, a senior fellow at the University of Southern California Center on Public Diplomacy.

"But where is the money? Until the U.S. is prepared to commit resources to produce, transmit and market new services, this is moot," he said.

The broadcasts were approved by the U.S. House of Representatives in an amendment to the Foreign Relations Authorization Act of 2005, introduced by Republican Congressman Connie Mack of Florida.

The U.S. Senate has already passed its own version of the act that does not include the Mack proposal. The House and Senate must now meet in a joint conference committee to reconcile the two versions of the legislation before it goes to the president for signature.

It is unclear whether the Mack Amendment will survive the negotiations in the conference committee. The congressman was not available for comment.

The move came as Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez launched his own television network, called Telesur. According to officials, the station’s goal is to promote South American regional integration with newscasts, films, documentaries and music by Latin American and Caribbean producers, and to provide a counterweight to existing programming from the United States.

Mack, a member of the International Relations Committee, has been an outspoken critic of Chavez and what he calls "his ongoing, radical shift toward socialism and the elimination of freedom for the Venezuelan people."

The congressman has charged that Telesur is "patterned after Al-Jazeera" and will "spread (Chavez’s) anti-American, anti-freedom rhetoric".

Powell said there was another alternative to creating special broadcasts to counter Telesur.

"For a far lower investment, the U.S. government could make certain that its views are represented on Telesur by making certain government spokesmen are available for Telesur interview and discussion opportunities," he said.

Alvin Snyder, also a senior fellow at the Centre on Public Diplomacy, injected another note of caution.

He said, "Telesur is a pan-Latin American channel. To counter its influence, a U.S. channel should be targeted to all of Latin America, not solely to Venezuela."

"A sound business plan needs to be developed including due diligence stating the objectives of the enterprise with specifics on how those objectives will be achieved. A satellite TV channel must have a vibrant Internet presence, with additional distribution through the growing technologies such as mobile video cell phones and podcasting."

Mack has proposed a three-point plan regarding Venezuela. It involves "the creation of institutions that will foster a free press, the freedom of speech and religion, and free and fair elections for Venezuela; a Venezuelan Security Zone that will isolate Chavez and limit his ability to destabilize Latin America; and promotion of economic development in Venezuela through free markets, privatization, and other means that will create lasting prosperity and opportunity for all Venezuelans."

The U.S. House has earmarked nine million dollars for 2006 and another nine million for 2007 to support opposition political parties, media and civil society organizations in Venezuela.

Meanwhile, the Venezuelan Congress was quick to approve a resolution opposing the House decision on broadcasting. The Venezuelan resolution passed with the votes of the ruling alliance, which holds a majority, and the center-left Movement to Socialism, an opposition party.

Telesur, a pan-Latin American station, is a Venezuelan government initiative undertaken in association with Argentina, Cuba and Uruguay. The governments of Argentina, Cuba and Uruguay have not commented on the bill passed by the U.S. House.

On Wednesday, Andrés Izarra, Venezuela’s information minister, resigned his post to assume the presidency of Telesur, saying that he wanted to assure the public that the new continent-wide television channel would not suffer from any conflicts of interest. . Telesur drew the wrath of the U.S. even before it went on the air last Sunday. It began broadcasting from Caracas on Jul. 24, the anniversary of the birth of South American independence leader, Simón Bolívar.

Pres. Chávez has called the Mack amendment "a preposterous imperialist idea that should not surprise us because we know what the U.S. government is capable of," and vowed to "take measures to neutralize the attempt."

Venezuelan critics of the Mack initiative contend that Washington is trying to repeat the failed initiatives of Radio and TV Martí, the U.S.-government funded stations created to broadcast programming and news aimed against the Cuban government.

Long before the broadcasting debate, it was clear that Bush and Chavez were on a collision course. There are many reasons, but the hubris of both men is high on the list. This confrontation is not only unnecessary; it is unproductive. The sour fruits of this approach can be seen in the enormous dividends Cuba and the U.S. have reaped over the years through their policies of non-engagement: in the U.S., getting Latino votes; in Cuba, getting tourists and investors from other countries.

Except for a few politicians, a lose-lose proposition if there ever was one!

Please click on the link below.

THE WORLD ACCORDING TO BILL FISHER



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> MACK VS. VENEZUELA
Saturday July 30 - 23:47 - Posted by 27137ac02089d7f2...

America can’t tell the rest of the world how a free press would be. In it’s very own premises the press has been degraded to propaganda. I have seen transmissions of the new Venezualan channel and just by comparision it shows how messy the press in the U. S. has become. Even strange channels like Al-Jazerah allow controversity - CNN/FOX claim they can be trusted, but hardly give any kind of useful information.
The fascistic plutocratic regime in Washington needs to be changed, otherwise it will threaten the whole world by using false flags like spreading freedom and democracy.




> MACK VS. VENEZUELA
Sunday July 31 - 03:59 - Posted by 43b59c8a205d29f7...

The conflicts between the US, Cuba and Venezuela are not basically about personalities or hubris. Oh if it were that simple ! It starts with the Monroe Doctrine and 19 invasions of Latin and South America countries by the US since this ’ keep out of my backyard policy’ of every president since Monroe. Over 90% of the press, radio and tv in Venezuela is in private hands so the rich do not lack from an inability to express their views. Unfortunately those views are not shared by the majority of Venezulans, as three elections have demonstrated. Trading oil with Cuba for Doctors and other professional services as well as industrial exchanges with Brazil and Argentina have angered the US. As a member of OPEC Venezuela has by passed trade in US dollars and done so at rates and terms beneficial to all theses countries. Potential deals with China are real challenges for the US. Sending in the marines may not work this time around , too many countries too few GI’s. CAFTA has been sold not as a trade policy but primarily as a security concern to ’save Nicaragua’ and some other countries for Corporate US interests. So slash and burn capitalism, privatization, will halt or slow the democratic wishes for the masses already improvised by centuries of exploitation from within and without their borders...now its name is called free trade....One and a half million Mexican farmers have been driven from their land because they cannot compete with high subsidization(welfare or state socialism, take your pick) of corporate American farms under NAFTA... Where the Wolf as failed in Iraq his chances may be slightly better as chief head hunter for the WTO. But if I were him I would not get to comfortable as things have a way of changing rapidly and ’blowback may already be on its way . john



> MACK VS. VENEZUELA
Sunday July 31 - 07:16 - Posted by 27137ac02089d7f2...

Excellent!



> MACK VS. VENEZUELA
Tuesday August 2 - 21:37 - Posted by f8fcfea163e55b79...

The “threat” of Telesur ... or "The Return of Mack the Knife"

VHeadline commentarist Carlos Herrera writes: All readers of VHeadline.com know that the United States continues interfering in Venezuelan internal affairs either by declarations from the State Department, by using paid hacks such as Mary Anastasia O’Grady, Linda Robinson and Phil Gunson (among others) or by the Internet psychos who are so biased that they have lost all credibility except for the lunatic fringe that has blind faith in the American Way of Life” or the “American Dream” and wants a coup d’etat in Venezuela or a US invasion to recover their lost privileges.

The latest attack has come from the floor of the US House of Representatives, where an amendment sponsored by Congressman Connie Mack was approved by “voice vote” to “to ensure the Venezuelan people have the opportunity to hear the positive ideals of freedom, security, and prosperity.”

The report on Mack’s web site is apparently in response to the imminent launch of Telesur www.telesurtv.net on the Libertador’s birthday, July 24. Even before Telesur has started broadcasting, it is being compared to Al Jazeera. Why? Simply put, if you compare Chavez’ idea of Telesur with an Arab TV channel, it sort of smacks of potential terrorism in the prevailing paranoid mind of the US public.

This just amounts to subliminal inferences, but without any substantiation.

How can you say that Chavez will use Telesur to “to spread his anti-American, anti-freedom rhetoric” before it has even started broadcasting?

* Does Congressman Mack have access to the existing programs before they have been aired or is it just a gross assumption?

The fact is that news, movies, documentaries, music, culture and sports from all Latin American countries will be aired on Telesur. If these programs do not support the “American Dream” and US values as does CNN en Español, Telemundo, Univision ... then so what?

The US does not own this continent, even though it still has a great deal of political, military and economic influence here. Telesur will contribute to weakening the psychological grip that was developed on the unsuspecting Latin American population using TV as a means of trans-culturization and the resulting loss of traditional values and the implantation of a consumer mentality to sell more useless gadgets and “exercise machines”!

When the idea of Telesur was first mooted about a year ago, the immediate reaction of the Venezuelan privately-owned media was that it would be a “Chavez mouthpiece.” No evidence, just cheap political propaganda.

The “threat” of broadcasting US inspired news ... or more accurately US propaganda to Venezuela is almost a replica of TV Marti broadcasting to Cuba and The Voice of America.

The fact that Mack has made this proposal indicates that Telesur is regarded as a threat to US hegemony of the airwaves and the fear that the “Big Lie” will be exposed about the US sooner or later, not to mention the truth about the historical invasion by the Us Marines violating the national sovereignty of nations in the region on at least 41 occasions.

Congressman Mack has jumped on the same bandwagon. Other parts of the report on Mack’s web site prove this point: “his (Chavez’) continued use of the existing airwaves to wipe out opposition leaders and thought; the enactment of new laws that essentially end the nation’s free press.”

The truth of the situation regarding the opposition leaders is that they “wiped themselves out” on the private TV channels a long time ago due to the negative and, at times, idiotic discourse of painting Chavez as a dictator ... which has simply lost all credibility with the vast majority of the Venezuelan people.

The proof of this is that Chavez’ latest popularity and intention of vote rating is 80.5%, according to independent pollster Seijas Associates. Now that Chaves has reached +80%, the only way is most probably down ... but with 59%+ of “Hard Votes,” this is not a concern even though the opposition press will make a song and dance about it when it happens.

Mack makes absurd comments that the new media law has ended the nation’s free press. This is just propaganda. In the first place, when Spanish President Rodriguez Zapatero was in Caracas late last year, he read the press and watched Venezuelan TV and could not see anything but the “freedom of the press.” In addition, the media law does not apply to the written press and commercial TV stations still criticize the government as they did before ... BUT cannot call for a coup, a military or civil rebellion in stark terms.

This is more than reasonable to most sound minded citizens.

According to Mack: “Hugo Chavez is an enemy of freedom and of those who support and promote it. He is a threat to the United States and stands to undermine the balance of power in the Western Hemisphere. Today America has sent a message that we will not turn a blind eye as Hugo Chavez continues to snuff-out freedom and hijack Venezuela from its citizens.”

The House adopted Mack’s amendment just days after he unveiled the principles of a three point plan to extend freedom, security and prosperity to Venezuela:

1) The creation of institutions that will foster a free press, the freedom of speech and religion, and free and fair elections for Venezuela.

2) Establish a Venezuelan Security Zone that will isolate Chavez and limit his ability to destabilize Latin America.

3) Promote economic development in Venezuela through free markets, privatization, and other means that will create lasting prosperity and opportunity for all Venezuelans.

Mack does not define “freedom” and perhaps he should ask Judith Miller, the US journalist doing jail time for refusing to reveal her sources, if she can define it.

Mack is right when he talks about Venezuela being “hi-jacked from its citizens.” That was the case from 1498­1998 ... only 500 years of exclusion for the majority. Under Chavez, “social inclusion” and “social justice” are the corner stones of the Bolivarian Revolution and is reflected in the Seijas survey mentioned above. Freedom without equality does not exist.

Chavez is intending to invade the US?

* I don’t think so, Congressman Mack!

Is Chavez a threat to US national security?

* You can buy all the oil you want.

Congressman Mack -­ come to Venezuela and see if there is freedom of speech, religion and free and fair elections. On this last point, read the Carter Center and OAS reports on the National Referendum held on August 15, 2004 and those reports will be able to answer this question.

The proposal of a Security Zone is a real threat ... a naval blockade as in 1902 or a sort of “no-fly zone” that was in operation in Iraq after the end of the Gulf War?

* If this were to be implemented, an interruption in the oil supply to the US could trigger a barrel to reach US$100 and a gallon of gasoline soaring to US$5 or more. This is an intelligent idea for the good of Mack’s voters, but really no more then the threat of a barking dog.

Mack’s final point #3 is absurd. Yes, Venezuela could have free markets and privatizations ... but would they create prosperity and opportunities?

Just look at Mexico after more than 10 years of NAFTA. Macro-economically it looks fine -­ world’s 12th largest economy in GDP terms. Chiapas separated from the central government -­ the Chiapas uprising started on January 1st 1994 -­ the day that NAFTA came into force. Mexico has been overrun by cheap, subsidized imports. Workers’ rights have been flushed down the toilet, the environment near the US border has been raped as environmental controls were scrapped to boost profits of US companies setting up in Juarez, for example, to exploit cheap non-union and female labor. There has been no sign of pulling the majority of the population out of poverty after the hollow promises of the “prosperity free trade would bring.” Quite the opposite has happened in a decade of continued impoverishment of the Mexican people.

One has to wonder about the real purpose of Mack’s proposals and his intentions.

My view is that all these shenanigans in the House of Representatives are designed to protect US interests in Venezuela and the region, but the whole show smells of oil and gas.

Mack would appear to be a puppet and hence in the pay of the global corporate empire, the driving force behind US government policy and its worldwide shock troops.

I doubt is any of these “voice approved” proposals will bear fruit in terms of US foreign policy towards Venezuela, since the whole region is still lurching to the left and political, social and economic integration of Latin America is getting nearer every day.

Any overt aggression to Venezuela could bring about unforeseen continental wide consequences.

Mack, as a long time critic of Chavez, is acting out the return of ’Mack the Knife’ with the ’Three Penny Opera’ being staged with a “voice approving” audience of US Congressmen in the Capitol Theater ... rather than in the Berliner Ensemble.

Carlos Herrera
Carlos.Herrera@VHeadline.com

More VHeadline.com commentaries by Carlos Herrera



> MACK VS. VENEZUELA
Tuesday August 2 - 22:07 - Posted by f8fcfea163e55b79...

Here is the link to the previous comment"The threat of Telesur...or The return of Mack the Knife on Vheadline .com

http://www.vheadline.com/readnews.a...






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