Saturday, June 27, 2015

Censorship and freedom of speech in Venezuela

José Alberto López Rafaschieri and Luis Alberto López Rafaschieri

This week we were interviewed again by the Ukrainian newspapers, "Politikantrop" (in english) and "Media Sapiens" (in Ukrainian). We spoke with them about the current state of the freedom of speech in Venezuela. These are some quotes from the mentioned conversations:
"Now, Venezuelans use Facebook, Youtube and Twitter to know about events that do not appear in the formal press, for example, riots, political repression and speeches from the alternative politicians. That happened because of a increasing censorship and auto-censorship of the traditional media."

"Then, In the current Venezuelan political context, where the increasing censorship of traditional media is the rule, the use of new methods to deliver information to the public is obligatory, especially, the Information and Communication Technologies, like Internet and smartphones."

"For this government, the suppression of the freedom of speech is one of its main policies to maintain the power."

"The international press has suffered the same difficulties than the Venezuelan media to inform about the events producing here. Journalist Fernando Del Rincon was fired for a moment from CNN due to the pressure the Venezuelan government applied to this TV station. And many international reporters, like Francesca Commissari, have been arrested for covering our civil protests. "

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

"Chavism had never been so weak as now"

Luis Alberto López Rafaschieri and José Alberto López Rafaschieri

In an interview for two Ukrainian newspapers, "Politikantrop" (in english) and "Third Republic" (in Ukrainian), we spoke about the current Venezuelan political crisis, making a comparison also between this process and that experienced by Ukraine recently. These are some quotes from the mentioned conversations:
"The political unrest in Venezuela was this time caused by economic measures such as a maxi-devaluation of the Venezuelan currency, hardening of exchange rate policy, price controls and judicial persecution of business owners. These policies have promoted the most severe inflation rate of the Chavista era, over 50% last year, and the worst scarcity of basic products in decades. In general, you cannot find milk, cement, bathroom paper, sugar, cooking oil, autoparts, flour, etc. in the Venezuelan markets."
"We have worse problems than those that provoke the fall of previous Venezuelan political elites. Maduro does not have the charisma of Chavez. He is unpopular even among sectors of the ruling party. Chavism had never been so weak as now." 
"In Ukraine, the current administration has a bad record dealing with people problems, the country is polarized between two main groups, and sovereignty is a critical issue. The role of Russia in the breaking of the agreement of Ukraine and the European Union cause discomfort in many sectors.
Certainly, we can encounter similarities, only change Russia for Cuba in our history. The ethnic variable, in Ukraine, is perhaps the most significant difference."

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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Symbolic singnificance of 2013 Venezuelan municipal elections

José Alberto López Rafaschieri and Luis Alberto López Rafaschieri

On December 8 of this year, Venezuelans will choose mayors and local councilors in a nationwide municipal voting. The main significance of this event is that it will be the first election to be held after the technical draw of April 14, when Chavista candidate, Nicolás Maduro Moros, defeated Henrique Capriles Radonski 50,61% to 49,12%.

After that election, the group who attracts the most votes in the municipal electoral process will demonstrate to Venezuela and the world who represents the political majority in this South American country, giving, also, a popular evaluation of the president and opposition during the last months.

The uncontrolled rise in crime, inflation and commodities shortages will impact the vote for the party of Maduro, PSUV, but the contradictory position of Capriles, that is, inciting a popular uprising against the April elections results, and call now to participate in the municipal voting without pressing for any modification to the electoral system, will have also consequences on the vote for the opposition parties.

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Saturday, April 20, 2013

The repression in Venezuela after the presidential election

José Alberto López Rafaschieri and Luis Alberto López Rafaschieri

In the protests following the Venezuelan presidential elections of April 14, we highlight some topics about the government procedures to maintain the order:

1. The authorities primarily sent paramilitary forces of the ruling party to combat the street demonstrations, making the violence worse.

2. The government arrested several protesters and entered into his homes without following legal procedures. Also, PSUV politicians exercised pressure on the independent press to retain the censorship, specially, this time, in TV stations like Televen and Globovision.

3. The official reports about the situation included murders from other cases (crime, personal problems, etc.) and unverified attacks to public services installations, with the aim of demonizing the protests.

These elements show a government that use methods not approved by the human rights conventions.  We have pronouncements of the international community supporting the election of the new Venezuela's president, Nicolas Maduro, but we haven't any mention of this illegal use of force and lies against civilians.

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

"No immediate pro-democratic change in Venezuela"

José Alberto López Rafaschieri and Luis Alberto López Rafaschieri

Politikantrop published and interview in which the Ukrainian political scientist and journalist, Viktor Kaspruk, spoke with us about the current Venezuelan politics. You can read the entire publication by clicking here.

These are some fragments of the interview:
"The Bolivarian model is autocratic. It is based in the personality cult of Hugo Chavez. There is nobody in the government with the leadership to carry on the “revolution”. That will be the principal obstacle in the futures plans of the chavista elite."
"Chavismo will continue censoring the independent media and nationalizing companies. Since its arrival, the Bolivarian Revolution has not stopped expropriations, and today, the remaining private media are exposed to content controls, fiscal pressures, foreign exchange privileges and other forms of covered coercion."
"We see no reasons to believe in an immediate pro-democratic change if Hugo Chavez leave the presidency. The Venezuelan economy is now growing more than 5%, the government party (PSUV) controls every public institution, the majority of newspapers, TV and radio stations have adopted an accommodative bias, and the most important opposition political parties are beginning to do the same."

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Chavista mismanagement: New source of risk for oil market

José Alberto López Rafaschieri and Luis Alberto López Rafaschieri

Political instability in Middle East, a terrorist attack in Nigeria or Colombia, and a nationalization process in some part of Latin America are the classic problems that confront the international oil production.

However, in Venezuela, the Chavez government has introduced a new way to frequently disrupt the world oil supply: incompetence.

One day is an explosion in one of the Venezuelan oil company refineries because nobody noticed the high gas levels in the facilities, as happened recently in the Amuay installations.

Some days later, other PDVSA oil tank explodes because his managers took no precautions against thunderstorms, like lighting rod systems, as occurred in El Palito oil facility.

Since 2002, PDVSA has had at least 38 accidents related to incompetence: oil well fires (Cardon cases for example), explosions, tanker crashes, offshore platforms subsidences, workers' deaths due to faulty safety measures, etc.

The next time oil analysts search for risk in the international oil market, they should consider, too, which PDVSA workers are not qualified to do their job. Chavista mismanagement in the Venezuelan oil industry has not ended.

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Friday, July 20, 2012

Chavez near Pinochet's record

José Alberto López Rafaschieri and Luis Alberto López Rafaschieri

Augusto Pinochet was the head of the Chilean government for nearly 17 years, one of the longest authoritarian regimes in Latin America. The South American general surpassed in duration others of his class, as Marcos Perez Jimenez and Alberto Fujimori.

President Hugo Chavez's government has 14-year in power, after two presidential terms. If he wins a third time, his regime would add 72 months more, for a total of 20 years, with the potential to extend for longer, thanks to the constitutional reform promoted by Chavez to establish unlimited reelection.

A third term would put Chavez over Pinochet in the sub-continental ranking of authoritarian governments that have lasted longer. Since then, he would be following in the footsteps of Trujillo and Castro.

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