- Over the weekend, Chavez showed his mettle as a democratic
leader. He acknowledged "errors" in the newly enacted Law on
Intelligence and Counterintelligence and will fix them to assure it fully
complies with Venezuela's Constitution.
- He gave examples and cited Article 16 that cites the
possibility of prison terms for persons not cooperating with intelligence
services. It's a "mistake," said Chavez and "not a small
(one)." The new intelligence services won't oblige anyone to inform
on others. Doing so is "overstepping," and "I assume responsibility"
for the error and will fix it.
- He continued: "Where we make mistakes, we must accept
this and not defend the indefensible....I guarantee to the country, in
Venezuela (this law will assault) no one! And no one will be obliged to
say more than they want to say....(We) will never attack the freedom of
Venezuelans, independently of their political positions. Liberty....is
one of the slogans of our socialism."
- Other articles will also be amended:
- -- Article 19 prohibiting non-state agencies from using
- -- Article 20 regarding search and wiretap provisions;
- -- Article 21 regarding secret evidence.
- The new law will be reviewed in its entirety. Whatever
is potentially unconstitutional will be removed or amended. Chavez guarantees
it. He's a man of his word, but the corporate media took full advantage
of the moment to jump all over him. As usual, The New York Times' Simon
Romero led the assault.
- He headlined: "Chavez Suffers Military and Policy
Setbacks" with the front end of his lead referring to Colombia's (unsubstantiated)
claim about capturing a Venezuelan national guard officer carrying assault
rifles "believed to be intended for leftist guerrillas."
- Once again Romero fumbles with the facts as he always
does on Venezuela. He now states: "President Hugo Chavez....said Saturday
he would 'withdraw' a decree overhauling intelligence policies that he
had made earlier that week." He called it "a rare act of self-criticism"
while hammering on the "capture" issue and filling paragraphs
- Even Al Jazeera got it wrong on intelligence law changes.
It headlined: "Chavez revokes controversial law." Near the end
of its report, however, it acknowledged that Chavez promised to "rewrite
the law (after) listening to the criticism."
- AFP also misreported by stating "Hugo Chavez on
Saturday revoked a law he decreed last month creating four spy agencies
and a Cuban-style national informants' network, saying the measure contained
errors." Errors - yes, revocation - no, revisions - coming before
the new law is implemented.
- For its part, AP was more accurate but barely in its
headline stating: "Chavez backtracks on Venezuela spy law." The
report's lead does say: "President Hugo Chavez said....that his government
will rewrite a new intelligence law to calm fears....that (it) could be
used to stifle dissent."
- BBC was more accurate than usual in its headline: "Chavez
agrees to change 'spy' law." It continued: "Venezuelan President
Hugo Chavez said he will amend a controversial new law that would have
required people to co-operate with intelligence agencies." BBC's report
was mostly critical, but it ended on a high note with an accurate Chavez
quote that "No one will be forced to say anything (to authorities)
they don't want to."
- For his part, Romero wasn't as gracious. He stressed
how Chavez is "Reeling from the defeat of a constitutional reform
in December (and) is facing multiple challenges as a reinvigorated opposition
fields candidates in (November's) regional elections and Venezuela's economic
growth slows despite record oil prices." Slower growth - yes, still
impressive - very much so. Where does Romero acknowledge this - nowhere.
- He and others in the dominant media never miss a chance
to misreport on Venezuela and attack its model democracy. Try imagining
George Bush admit an error and promise to fix it. Try imagine George Bush
promise anything except continued war and maybe more of it. Try imagine
if America had a leader like Hugo Chavez. Try imagine if Romero & Co.
might imagine it.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
- Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and
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