So, Chávez’s latest anti-imperialist brain fart – his demand to pull out of the OAS’s main Human Rights body, the IACHR – means Venezuela is now simultaneously calling Cuba’s exclusion from the OAS an imperialist aggression and demanding to be excluded from a key OAS body, on grounds of imperialist aggression. ‘mmmmkay…
(Can anyone seriously doubt that, if there had never been an embargo, the Cubans would be blaming their economic stagnation on the iniquities inherent in having to trade with a capitalist superpower like the United States?)
Be that as it may, Chávez’s outburst provides as good an excuse as we’d ever need to go back and read through the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights’ latest country report on Venezuela, which dates back to 2009. It’s no wonder the Petrocaudillo wants out: in its measured, plodding, lawyerly way, the Commission does a real number on the guy.
After the break, you can see what they have to say about the “cadenas”, for instance. [Spoiler alert: ouch!]
[All emphasis is my own.]
409. The IACHR recognizes the power of the President of the Republic and the high authorities of the State to use the communications media with the aim of informing the population about economic, social, or political issues of national relevance, that is to say, about those questions of preponderant public interest that they must be urgently informed of through independent communications media. In effect, as the Inter-American Court has stated, “making a statement on public-interest matters is not only legitimate but, at times, it is also a duty of the state authorities.”
410. The exercise of this power, however, is not absolute. The fact that the President of the Republic can, by virtue of the powers conferred by Venezuelan laws, interrupt the regular programming of the public and private communications media in the country does not authorize him to exercise this power without limits: the information that the president transmits to the public through blanket broadcasts should be that which is strictly necessary to serve urgent informational needs on subjects of clear and genuine public interest and during the time that is strictly necessary to transmit such information. In effect, as previously mentioned, freedom of expression protects not only the right of the media to disseminate information and their own and others’ opinions freely, but also the right to be free from having content imposed upon them. Principle 5 of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression explicitly establishes that: “[r]estrictions to the free circulation of ideas and opinions, as well as the arbitrary imposition of information and the imposition of obstacles to the free flow of information violate the right to freedom of expression.”
411. Some national organs of States party to the American Convention, applying international standards, have indicated that “it is not just any information that legitimizes the President of the Republic to interrupt regular programming; rather, it is that which deals with a collective interest in the knowledge of facts of importance to the public that are truly necessary for the real participation of citizens in the collective life. […] [A]n intervention, even by the President of the Republic, without any type of limitation, restricts the right of citizens to inform themselves about other issues that interest them.”
413. The lack of control in the exercise of this power could degrade the legitimate purpose of this mechanism, converting it into a tool for propaganda. Already in the Joint Declaration of 2003 of the Special Rapporteurs for Freedom of Expression, it was clearly established that “[m]edia outlets should not be required by law to carry messages from specified political figures, such as the president.”
414. In summary, any intervention by the president using this mechanism must be strictly necessary to satisfy urgent requirements in matters of evident public interest. Permitting governments the unlimited use of independent communications media, under the justification of informing citizens about every issue related to the functioning of the state or about different issues that are not urgent or necessary and that the citizenry can obtain information about from other sources, leads to, in practice, the acceptance of the right of governments to impose upon the communications media the content that they must broadcast. Any obligation to broadcast content not chosen by the media itself must conform strictly to the requirements imposed by Article 13 of the American Convention to be considered as an acceptable limitation on the right to freedom of expression.
Out! Out! We need out of this dastardly imperialist plot!
Lawyers! They have lawyers!!
The horror…the horror…