Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Three days since the Change-over (...and counting)
(the view from Avenida Mexico at 12:05 Monday morning -- 5 minutes after the end of RCTV's public broadcasting concession)
Since the changeover of RCTV to TVES Caracas has been host to tit-for-tat marches all of which have been more or less peaceful. Both sides have mobilized en masse, with opposition marches and demonstrations tending to either start or dwell in the east of the city, where the municipal mayors are more sympathetic to their cause – mayors Lopez and Radonski, of Chacao and Baruta, respectively, have both attended various demonstrations since Sunday. The ‘tend’ should be emphasized, as today, a quite big student march went through my neighborhood traveling west. Chavistas, for their part, organized a massive march to Miraflores, the presidential palace yesterday, but have had less reason to engage in the political theater of the opposition.
(upside down Venezuelan flags have figured prominently in the opposition demonstrations. While the majority of demonstrators claim they have no pretentions to pursuing another coup, the symbolism should not be ignored)
(detail of Miraflores, the presidential palace, outlining the 5 motors of Bolivarian Socialism)
(Chavistas, yesterday before the rain)
(Opposition march, today -- Students have been on the front line of both sides' mobilizations around RCTV)
So far, there has been little in the way of direct clashes between Chavistas and Opposition, which seems to be at present what both sides want. At present, the ‘escalation’ threatened by many opposition politicians has yet to bear fruit.
(a sign from today's opposition march reads: "This is what we don't want!" with the caricature of a beret-ed figure butting heads with a head sans-hat-of-any-sort)
The rest of the hardcore opposition press (or in other words, Globovision and most of the newspapers) has been covering every utterance of the opposition as if these were the last days of the Bolivarian Revolution.
(I was alerted to today's opposition march by helicopters circling over my apartment building. At first, I thought it was the police. When I made my way out of the building and to the march-route, I saw that the majority of the helicopters were from the press, and were doing multiple close-sweeps of the marchers, much to their cheer.)
Chavez and his cabinet have for their part taken note of these claims, as well as the parallels to April 2002, when protests ‘went hot’ as the two sides clashed at Puente Llaguno, a coup, and a counter-coup ensued.
(Two views of the Puente Llaguno memorial taken during a Chavista march to Miraflores)
Globovision for its part has come under fire from the government for making veiled calls for Chávez to be assassinated (using an oh-so-crafty photo-montage of the 1981 assassination attempt of Pope John Paul II and a Ruben Blades singing ‘have faith, this doesn’t end here’) while CNN en Español has had the subtlety to place pictures of Chávez next to photos of Al Qaeda militants and leaders. In a second ‘oopsie daisie that sort of thing just happens in journalism’ CNN played footage of a protest against the killing of a journalist in Cancun, Mexico, and claimed it was footage of Venezuelans protesting RCTV.
(I guess either: 1. CNN sucks; 2. They couldn’t get any State Department-prepackaged footage of Venezuela; or 3. They just think all them dern LAHteeenohs look alike anyway – [I mean, Venezuelans are just another type of Mexican, right?)
The opposition continues to treat this as an issue of freedom of expression, making the faulty assumption that there has ever been freedom of expression in a communications system dominated by multi-million dollar transnationals. Chavistas, on the other hand, tend to be more sincere, often openly admitting that they have little time for the liberal ‘rights’ arguments of the opposition and the rich. They argue that TVES, the new station, will finally offer the public entertainment that reflects their values and the values the revolutionaries are trying to create. That is, rather than an ethos of individualism and rampant consumerism, TVES will provide educational services and entertainment that doesn’t come at the cost of the community’s health and well-being. Most importantly, TVES will never engage in the coup-mongering and manipulation of RCTV.
The only question that remains, truthfully, is whether or not Bolivarian telenovelas will be as popular