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August 18, 2002
A Narco News White Paper
Reported from Venezuela
Narco News '02
Authentic Journalism on the "War on Drugs" in Latin America
"The Name of Our Country is América" - Simón Bolívar
Chickens in Paris,
Eggs in Caracas
Scrambled Priorities of "Reporters
Without Borders" Precede Shooting
Part II in a Series
By Al Giordano
With a Statement By
Advisor to the European Parliament
Special to the Narco News Bulletin
Three weeks ago, on July 29, Narco News informed three millionaire "press freedom" organizations of the escalating attacks against Community Media journalists by rogue pro-coup police forces in Venezuela.
Only one of the three organizations - the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York - responded to our open letter. CPJ did so within 12 days, by filing an amended report on the state of press freedom in Venezuela. This report marked the first time that CPJ denounced the attacks on Community Media by the US-backed Carmona dictatorship that briefly took power last April. It also, even more significantly, contained the first statements from CPJ in its history acknowledging that the behavior of the commercial media owners - through censorship and orders to reporters to simulate, rather than report, the news - is itself a serious threat to press freedom.
The other two "press freedom" organizations we contacted - the "Inter-American Press Association" in Miami, and the Paris based "Reporters Without Borders" - have not responded in any way to the letters or the facts they contained about the illegal imprisonment of journalist Nicolás Rivera and others.
The silence of these organizations has left radio journalist Nicolás Rivera to rot in jail (in fact, although we congratulate CPJ for making fast ground in its catch-up after four years of negligence and worse regarding Venezuela, we point out that the NY-based group still has not addressed the more recent attacks against Community Media there, including the June 28th illegal arrest and imprisonment of Rivera; we continue to urge them to do that and more).
Silence by the self-proclaimed press freedom groups with millionaire budgets has provided impunity and cover for a new series of attacks against the Community Media in Caracas, the Venezuelan capital. We will now show you graphic evidence of one of these attacks: The shooting, two days after Narco News filed part I of this report, of a cameraman for Catia TV by the municipal police forces of the pro-coup mayor of Greater Caracas, Alfredo Peña.
The Penalty for Carrying a Community TV Camera in front of Alfredo Peña's Metropolitan Police
The man in the photo above is not just any cameraman, though. He is not, in fact, Venezuelan. And he was merely holding the camera for the journalists from Catia TV while he was observing municipal police behavior during protests outside of the Supreme Court (judges heard arguments over the prosecution of generals who participated in the violent attempted military coup of April 11, 12 and 13).
This man's name is Paul Emile-Dupret, and he was cameraman-for-a-day. He is - and this should have consequences for the European Commission-funded "Reporters Without Borders" - a citizen of Belgium and is a staff member of the European Parliament.
Paul Emile-Dupret, advisor to the European Parliament, and the War Wounds of Being Community Journalist-for-a-Day
Perhaps since the organization "Reporters Without Borders" turns a blind eye to attacks on Community Journalists who are Venezuelan, it will not be so blind in the case of the attacks on the European cameraman Dupret. We repeat that "Reporters Without Borders" receives 44 percent of its funding from the European Commission, which reports to the Parliament that employs Mr. Dupret. We urge our many European readers to alert members of the Parliament and the Commission of the direct responsibility - through its knowing and complicit silence about events which it was warned about two days prior - of "Reporters Without Borders" for the attacks of July 31, and August 1 and 2 against press and public freedom in Venezuela.
Mr. Dupret received 41 wounds from rubber bullets fired by the out-of-control pro-coup police forces. He also lost the sight in his left eye for a while, due to a bullet wound there.
He was targeted and shot 41 times precisely because he was carrying a Catia TV camera.
The July 31st attack against Dupret and many others was - we repeat - made possible by the complicit silence of "Reporters Without Borders."
As a public service, and part of our continued instruction to these simulating "press freedom" organizations and our call for action against these savage violent attacks, Narco News today translates this statement by Paul-Emile Dupret:
I, Paul-Emile Dupret, Belgian citizen, staff member of the European Parliament as a political advisor, make the following complaint:
Finding myself in Venezuela to understand the political situation in greater detail, for personal and political interest, I was victim of an aggression by the Caracas police while I accompanied a news team of the Community Television station Catia-TV that covered the demonstrations by Venezuelan citizens both in favor of the military generals implicated in the April 11 coup d'etat, and others opposed to the impunity of that action, in front of the Supreme Court. Suddenly, the metropolitan police of Caracas, in an act of evident provocation, made very rapid maneuvers in which they gratuitously attacked the sector of the demonstrations that was in favor of the (national) government, whom they violently beat and attacked with rubber bullet gunshots. At this moment, I was shot by rubber bullets that caused me some 40 wounds in the head, back, shoulder and left arm. Fortunately, these are wounds without worse consequences, but for a while I lost vision in one eye, because the bullets shot from some five meters way hit only two centimeters from the eye.
I protest this aggression and file a judicial complaint to the Venezuelan prosecutor, and inform my Embassy to file protest over this action by the Metropolitan Police.
I am aware of the fact that the Metropolitan Police of Caracas have a black history for many years in violations of human rights. It is worth stressing that for almost two years the Metropolitan Police agents have been trained by United States agents belonging to the Bratton Group (headed by former New York and Boston police commissioner William Bratton). This "security" corps acts under the command of Mayor Alfredo Peña, who is a bitter opponent of the Chávez government and the social reforms that this government has implemented.
The Metropolitan Police played a decisive role so that on April 11th the pro-coup sectors could succeed, until the people and the sectors of the armed forces loyal to the Constitution reacted to reestablish the legitimate government. On July 31, seven members of this police force were found guilty of the deaths of some of the victims who died near the National Palace at Miraflores on April 11th while they demonstrated in defense of the rule of law.
But I also want to inform the public that it is documented that in these days the same police committed multiple cases of attacks against Human Rights, many of them of even greater seriousness. Beginning on July 31, the Metropolitan Police began anew to attack the population, realizing a series of violent acts to impede the people from peacefully demonstrating so that the authors of the coup d'etat will be put on trial and punished. And with these provocations, inciting violence and disorder with the goal of creating a situation of chaos to demonstrate the incapacity of the Chávez government to restore calm, and to make possible later actions toward a coup, likely in coordination with other sectors such as the Chamber of Commerce, the central union, the commercial media, etc
It's that on the days of July 31, and the 1st and 2nd of August, the Metropolitan Police, at the same time, demonstrated themselves as very complacent and complicit with those who demonstrated in defense of the military coup plotters whose case was being heard by the Supreme Court, committing many violations against people who demonstrated peacefully, of which I can supply the following information:
· Franco Arquímedes, C.I: 10.864.195, Secretary General of the Taxi Drivers' Union of Llaguno Bridge, was arrested, and according to members of his family, tortured by officers of the Metropolitan Police, and kept imprisoned for almost 12 hours;
· Jorge Barroeta, C.I: 6.048.783. - Victim of beatings to his back, kicked in the neck, shot by rubber bullets in the arms and the back.
· Jazmín Manuitt, C.I: 8.554.147. * Víctim of beatings on the legs and hands.
· Leonardo Calderón, C.I: 7.132.638. * Víctim of beatings to his body.
· Francisco Daza, C.I: 7.263.458.- Wounded by rubber bullets in his legs.
· Alexander José Sucre (handicapped), C.I: 12.662.263 * Beaten in the head while his crutches were broken by agents of the Metropolitan Police.
· Jonathan Antonio Aranguren, C.I: 7.132.638 * Victim of rubber bullets.
· Willmer José Aranguren, C.I: 13.716.461 * Victim of rubber bullets.
· Mrs. NN, hospitalized in Vargas Hospital with wounds caused by Metropolitan Police who caused her sprained muscles.
These are some of the 18 wounded from the events of July 31, 2002, to which must the victims of the 1st and 2nd of August must also be counted and information is currently being assembled about those cases.
Now, how has Reporters Without Borders and its director Robert Ménard responded to our Open Letter of July 29th? Has he come to the aid of Nicolás Rivera and other journalists illegally arrested by pro-coup police forces? Has the complicit Monsieur Ménard addressed the vicious rogue police attacks and shootings of Community Journalists on July 31st and on August 1st and 2nd?
He hasn't, and nor has his bureaucracy named "Reporters Without Borders."
On August 5th we wrote to him again, asking "what part of 'a journalist is in jail' don't you understand?" And we included a translation of our open letter to him in French.
That day, Reporters Without Borders did issue a new report on Venezuela, but continuing with the same brand of simulation and partiality that has marked all its previous reports on this country for the past four years.
Silent over the torture of Nicolás Rivera and his family, and Rivera's imprisonment, Ménard's "Reporters Without Borders" instead chose to denounce, in the vaguest of terms without citing any evidence or source, supposed "threats" against commercial journalists by masses of protestors during the same Supreme Court demonstrations that marked the real violence - a hail of rubber bullets - that Ménard and "Reporters Without Borders" invited against Community Journalists through their silence.
In lieu of addressing the real violence, Reporters Without Borders wrote this particularly tepid, unsubstantiated, and unsourced, communiqué. As if the intent was to distract from, and not denounce, the systematic municipal violence against journalists, Reporters Without Borders wrote:
"On 30 July, Ray Avilés of the television programme 24 horas, broadcast on the Venevisión network, was threatened by alleged supporters of President Chávez."
Threatened? Like, what, some citizen yelled at him? Called him an asshole? It's not clear. But while rogue Municipal Police forces under the command of pro-coup Greater Caracas Mayor Alfredo Peña shot 41 rubber bullets into Dupret for carrying a Catia TV camera, "Reporters Without Borders" chose instead to denounce the equivalent of a teenaged "mischief night" caper against a commercial journalist. "Reporters Without Borders" denounced:
"The same day, eggs and other objects were thrown at radio journalist Yadiris Adrián."
Eggs? Details, please: Were they sunny-side up? Raw? Soft-boiled? Were they Easter eggs? What colors were they painted? Is Ménard upset that the masses didn't offer the reporters Parisian Omelettes on silver trays dripping with scallions and gruyere cheese? Was there at least a side of toast and marmalade? In any case, the breakfast served up to the commercial journalist was not a hail of 41 rubber bullets, was it?
Why is "Reporters Without Borders" upset about egg tossing but not bullets? (The word, in French, is priorités; priorities, and they've got them, well scrambled.)
"Reporters Without Borders" is also upset when protesting crowds catcall reporters as "mercenaries" or "paparazzi," or greet them with Bronx cheers. Maybe the public yelled at the reporters to "tell the truth!" (because these shouts are increasingly heard in every land by assembled masses sick and tired of being lied to by a simulating commercial media; Venezuela is hardly an isolated case). But each time that "Reporters Without Borders" cites a "threat" against journalists in this country, it offers no detailed description, the characterization is stated only in vague, unquoted, unsourced, non-specific, terms and only mentioned at all if it can be twisted to blame on the country's elected government.
And although the August 7th update by "Reporters Without Borders" denounced one governmental aggression against reporters - that "a municipal police officer took their camera from them and confiscated their film" - it neglected to explain that the Municipal Police are not directed by the national government of President Hugo Chávez, the Paris group's favorite scapegoat, but, rather, they are the same rogue police forces who were part of the April coup attempt against him and continue to be the shock troops against democracy in that country. And in an August 5th reference to police robbing media equipment, the Paris organization did not state which police forces were involved: "Reporters Without Borders" is not interested in even-handed protection of press freedom in Venezuela. "Reporters Without Borders" is part of the problem: Simulating the entire issue, cheapening the very serious concern of press freedom, and thus "Reporters Without Borders" does more harm than good.
"Reporters Without Borders" still has not answered our Open Letter or its 12 very simple questions posed to its director, Mr. Ménard.
And Mr. Ménard wonders why people throw eggs at people like him.
In the one-sided and corrupted view of "Reporters Without Borders," the only threats to press freedom are those against the commercial media, and any criticism or speech identifying the corrupt and simulating behavior by the paid press constitutes "a threat." The Paris-based organization denounced on August 7th that "President Chávez again berated the news media in his weekly televised address 'Aló Presidente' two days later, on August 4th, calling them 'liars' and claiming they only reported what is going badly in Venezuela."
To state the truth - that the commercial media in Venezuela are liars - is a threat to press freedom? Well, thankfully, not everyone in Paris feels as Mr. Ménard does. Maurice Lemoine, for example, reports in the August issue of Le Monde Diplomatíque: "How the Hate Media Incited the Coup Against the President" in Venezuela.
Monsieur Ménard! Did you read that? Le Monde Diplomatique called the ones you want to defend from eggs and insults "the Hate Media"! Isn't that also, based on "Reporters Without Borders'" watery standards, an "attack" on the press? Oops, well, it comes from the press, and the respected French press, at that.
Oh, and Monsieur Ménard: We're truly sorry about the eggs. We know it's a sore point. In Spanish, eggs are called "huevos," a word that also refers to courage and to reproductive organs of both genders, and its obvious how someone who lacks the huevos to do his job - to stand and fight during times of moral crisis against the true threats to press freedom, like jails and bullets - might get upset at the mere suggestion that "huevos" have anything to do with the issues raised by "Reporters Without Borders'" failure comply with its own mission.
It comes down to this age-old question for Monsieur Ménard; we'll make it Question 13 for "Reporters Without Borders" regarding its simulating and selective stances on "press freedom" in Venezuela:
Which came first, Monsieur: the chicken or the egg?
Former Boston Phoenix Political Reporter Al Giordano reports on the drug war and democracy from Latin America. He is publisher of The Narco News Bulletin - www.narconews.com -- and receives email at firstname.lastname@example.org
About this series:
This summer, Narco News publisher Al Giordano traveled to Venezuela to investigate and report on the political situation and, specifically, the role of the media - commercial and community - in the April coup, counter-coup, and the continuing history of the country's democracy. He interviewed hundreds of sources from the popular neighborhoods, the media, the opposition and the Chávez administration.
This series will include reports on the history of the Community Media movement in Venezuela as told by its own journalists and participants, and an analysis of the 1999 Bolivarian Constitution's guarantee of press freedom rights to all citizens, not just the commercial media caste (Venezuela's new laws legalizing non-profit Community TV and Radio are the most progressive of any country in the world and we will translate the key provisions for distribution and use in other countries.)
The series will also include reports on two days spent covering President Hugo Chávez: His June 21 press conference with foreign correspondents (which lasted almost four hours) and his June 23 live nationwide broadcast from the headquarters of Community TV station Catia TV, where for five hours the president took calls from the public and questions from a studio audience of 36 representatives of the Community Media throughout Venezuela.
This series will also explore the modus operandi of the three wealthiest international "press freedom" organizations - The "Committee to Protect Journalists" in New York, the "Inter-American Press Association" in Miami and the Paris-based "Reporters Without Borders" - and how each of these organizations has betrayed their own self-stated missions with their simulated and partial statements regarding the events this year in Venezuela.
Today, we are sending this first installment of the series to representatives of each of these three international organizations, will offer them a chance to respond to questions about their funding and its relation to their stances regarding press freedom issues in Venezuela, and attempt to begin a long-overdue dialogue - in full public view - with the spokespersons for these groups about their selective definitions of "press freedom," particularly as it regards defense of commercial media over non-profit community journalism. We hope these organizations will enter into this dialogue in a spirit of self-critique and correction, and that they will become more accountable for their actions as a result.
We also issue a call to the global networks of Independent Media and Authentic Journalism to join in this dialogue about what truly constitutes Freedom of the Press and how it is best defended and expanded. Please join in the conversation. Send your letters, comments, questions and criticisms to our immedia working group at email@example.com
This series is part of the Narco News Immedia Summer 2002 project. For more information see our June 1st report: "The Masses vs. The Media: A Revolution for a Narcotized Society" - http://www.narconews.com/themasses.html
This story, "Free Nicolás Rivera: Community Media, the Voice of the People, Under Siege," appears online at http://www.narconews.com/communitymedia1.html
Read Part I in English
Lea Ud. Parte I en Español
Read Our Letter to the Committee to Protect Journalists
Read Our Letter to Reporters Without Borders
Read Our Letter to the Interamerican Press Association
For More Narco News, Click Here
Cracking Some Eggs on a Plate of Truth