Media suppression: a human rights abuse
The coup regime in Honduras has just ordered the shutdown [Sp.] of Radio Globo, which has consistently provided the most complete coverage of the resistance to the coup. Honduran media that have managed to keep functioning have done so by extensively self-censoring.
This is an outrage, a crime, and a violation of human rights.
Venezuela's attorney general has recently proposed a new media law whose broad language would allow the government to shut down hostile broadcasters and publications; it's to be introduced to the Venezuelan legislature sometime this fall. Yesterday, a group of Chavez supporters attacked the offices of Globovision, a private television broadcast channel that is, like most of the private media there, anti-Chavez. This, too, is an outrage.
Media suppression is bad, mkay? It's bad when legislated by elected governments, bad when it's done by thugs purportedly acting on their own, and bad when done by military-installed, illegitimate regimes whose police are beating up and arresting peaceful protestors. It would be bad at any time, but it's particularly damaging at this moment. People inside and outside Honduras are working hard to make public the abuses on the part of the Honduran coup regime, including media suppression, and to get some acknowledgement and criticism of the repression by U.S. government spokespeople. The silence has been deafening so far.
Actions to intimidate and shut down media by leaders who've provided concrete support for Zelaya's restoration threaten both to overshadow the Honduran coup regime's actions and provide a ready distraction for right-wing U.S. coup supporters in Congress who already see Zelaya and coup opponents as Chavez pawns. A recent LA Times feature on Daniel Ortega's attacks on press enemies will come in handy for others who insist on framing this military coup as a regrettable but understandable defense of "democracy" against the spreading menace of "socialist strongmen" in Latin America.
The situtation in Honduras is not about Hugo Chavez or Daniel Ortega. It's about the attack on an already seriously weak democracy there in the face of popular demands for real participation. It's about the determination of a tiny stratum of rich business families and their military henchmen to maintain their traditional monopoly on power. They can't stop the protests, they can't stop the news from getting out to the world on the internet, but they will do whatever they can to keep Hondurans, most of whom do not have internet access, from hearing what's going on in their own country.
I have to go; will add links later, but wanted to post the urgent news about Radio Globo. Update: 8:30pm, 4 Aug - Edited and links added.
Update 2: 6:00pm, 5 August - Radio Globo is defying the order to shut down, which was produced by the military and executed by a military judge. Good for them, and good news for Hondurans. Al Giordano has the details along with another piece of good news: The mayor of San Pedro Sula, who was driven out by coup supporters on July 2, is safe in exile, and the municipal workers have since that day prevented the attempted usurper, Micheletti's nephew William Hall Micheletti, from taking office. National marches are planned for San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa early next week.
Do your part to support them: If you're in Boston or Chicago, attend and/or promote the events of the Honduran speaking tour. Wherever you are, call on Sec. Clinton and Pres. Obama to do more to increase the pressure on the coup regime: freeze U.S.-held assets of coup backers and participants, revoke more diplomatic visas, start withdrawing U.S. military from the base at Soto Cano (Palmerola), denounce the regime's media suppression and the beatings and arrests of peaceful protestors, and make clear that the U.S. will not recognize a government resulting from elections held under the coup regime. Get your representative to sign the Congressional letter to Pres. Obama with the same message.
Soldiers today attacked students and administrators at the National Autonomous University of Honduras, in the capital, using batons, tear gas, and live bullets. Hundreds may be wounded. [Update 3: 4:00pm, 13 August - Dozens, in the event, but the rector of UNAH, who had been keeping the university neutral on the coup, is suing the police over the invasion of the campus, where she was one of those beaten.]
Update 4: 4:50pm, 13 August - The Venezuelan legislature will not be taking up the legislation proposed by the Attorney General anytime soon. This news is at the end of a hostile item on the legislature by AP reporter Christopher Toothaker. The people who wreaked havoc in the Globovision offices were arrested (via bloggingsbyboz.com, no link). The people who ordered the shutdown of Radio Globo in Honduras continue to severely beat [Sp.] members of Congress and others peacefully demonstrating against the coup, and no one in the U.S. executive branch seems to be a bit bothered. Huh.
[Image: Eduardo Maldonado, director of Radio Globo.]