Freedom of expression has always been the “Achilles’ heel” of Chavismo throughout its history. Since the arrival of Hugo Chávez and the beginning of his sheer descent from the popular favor caused by his precarious State policies, the media have been guarantors of the truth to bring to light the “dark stews” (guisos, corrupt dark deals), the unfulfilled promises and the exposition to public opinion of the constant denunciations of the people.
L.S // lapatilla.com
Knowing of this phobia towards freedom of thought, journalism has been a constant target for government censorship, persecution and harassment. This has caused national and regional media to stop working.
Nor has the digital press has not been spared from the ravages of the “revolution”. Independent news portals got their “ración de patria” (dose of homeland), suffering brutal blockades, thus limiting the entry of readers and the right to be informed.
And is this new generation of digital journalism that is serving as the main weapon against Chavista censorship, an issue that continues to cause headaches to the Bolivarian leadership and is currently the focus of debate.
From the Chavista forum that usurped the National Assembly, they have hinted at reforming the Law on the Exercise of Journalism.
Of the presumed proposed reform, it is only known what was announced by the PSUV deputy, Carola Chávez, a member of the media commission of Maduro’s Assembly, who stated that there was the need to recognize journalists who did not graduate from universities, who he called “graduates of the university of life”.
According to Edgar Cárdenas, Secretary General of the National Association of Journalists, Caracas section (CNP-Caracas), this statement makes clear the intention to de-professionalize the journalistic profession.
“In this 21st century, a time when journalism faces various challenges, including dealing with the new way of communicating and informing in virtual environments (social networks), where disinformation and ‘infoxication’ impact on the veracity and quality of the content, are required much greater knowledge, skills, abilities , that can only be obtained in the training process that takes place within the universities,” said Mr. Cárdenas during a conversation with lapatilla.com.
Likewise, he asserted that incorporating non-professionals into the journalistic exercise implies compromising the quality of information, “because they are not academically trained to assume the responsibility of informing.”
“It is also important to note that there is a purely political interest that points to the generation and dissemination of propaganda content to the detriment of information attached to the truth,” he added.
For her part, Gloria Cuenca, a prestigious writer, journalist and winner of the National Journalism Award in 1990, stated that the intended reform of the Law on the Exercise of Journalism “is another action against seriousness, honesty and freedom in the exercise of the journalistic profession, with a long history in the university.”
“However, this is not observed in the comments or in the statements of the spokespersons that have spoken out regarding the possible reform, no real interest in reforming the law to update it is seen. What they have raised are some issues, overcome in actual practice by the profound failure they had in insisting on applying them in countries with totalitarian systems,” added the also retired professor at the Central University of Venezuela (UCV) during an interview with lapatilla.com.
Ms. Cuenca, author of the famous book “Ethics for journalists”, discussed that Chavismo “talks about revolutionary correspondents, alternative journalists, among other terms, as if they were discovering lukewarm water. It is worrying to realize that successive failures in countries without freedom of expression have not been analyzed or discussed. Pretending to insist on these mistakes, not having any kind of rectifying intention, attracts attention.”
THE FREE PRESS AND EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS ARE IN DANGER
Edgar Cárdenas argued that since there is no formal documentation that illustrates the reform, “we must start from assumptions, all based on the attacks that have been carried out against the free press (journalists and the media). For this reason, he worries that the reform could be used as an instrument to destroy the CNP, eliminate professional secrecy (confidentiality of the source), silence information and further diminish the exercise of the right to freedom of expression.”
In Venezuela there are 15 universities that teach “Social Communication” as a career. There are more than 9,000 students enrolled, including the Bolivarian University. “Not only are the graduated journalists affected, but also the student population that, after completing their studies, will not have a field for their professional practice,” Mr. Cárdenas warned.
“Critical journalism will cease to exist, because militant journalism will be imposed with the respective government ideological charge,” he added.
While Professor Cuenca warned that the journalistic union “is alert and preparing to face this new battle -one more- against the obsession to eliminate freedom of expression, information and opinion. Forums, debates and conferences are held against this intended reform. The national and regional directives are producing repudiation statements against the ‘unknown but announced’ reform. Nothing positive is expected. Following that of ‘by their deeds you will know them’ nothing fair is expected, nor less current and inadequate.”
“Journalists have no choice but to ‘say what they don’t want said’. And how to do it? Looking for a language that is not accessible to those who are in charge of the repressive organisms, that is, paying attention to how to say things, before the things that are said. Of course this is one more challenge, but we already know our fight for freedom of expression and information is a profound and permanent challenge,” she explained.
In her opinion, Cuenca insists that the intention behind the reform is “to manipulate, pressure, attack the freedoms of though, information, opinion and the press. Their true purposes are known.”
“Preparing and insisting on the fight is what remains,” she pointed out.
For Edgar Cárdenas, the reform not only affects a geographical nucleus of the country, but the entire Venezuelan society, regardless of distances.
“The right to information would be diminished, caused by the danger posed by the generation of informative content handled by non-professional journalists, not attached to the truth, where quality is compromised and with a high propaganda and ideological load.”
Venezuelan journalism, on several occasions, has stood firm in its defense of the professionalization of its work and of the mandatory registration provided for in the current exercise law. But in such a case that Chavismo gets its hands on it, it would be necessary to “prepare and insist on the fight, that is all that is left,” warned Professor Gloria Cuenca.