06 June 2007

Hands Off Venezuela

Join us in standing with the people of Venezuela and their democratically elected President Hugo Chavez, and condemning Washington's propaganda campaign against the Venezuelan government, carried out with the complicity of the U.S. corporate media. Sign the petition online at: http://iacenter.org/handsoffvenezuela.shtml

President George W. Bush and his administration
HR Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Members of U.S. Congress
Print and Electronic U.S. Media

We the undersigned repudiate the role, overt or covert, of the United States government and media in the campaign of destabilization of the legitimate government of Venezuela and would like to confirm our support for democratically elected President of Venezuela, Honorable Hugo Chávez Frías and the Bolivarian Revolution.

A hostile campaign against the Venezuelan government under the name of "Free Expression" has been opened up by the opposition forces in Venezuela and its allies abroad, particularly in the United States after the announcement that the broadcasting license of Radio Caracas Television (RCTV) would not be renewed once it expired on May 27, 2007.

The Venezuelan government's decision is a legal and legitimate one based on their constitution which guarantees and regulates the access and use of airwaves for the benefit of the general public. RCTV broke these laws and consequently lost its license. It has not been silenced, for it can continue broadcasting by cable, satellite and Internet!

RCTV has consistently worked against the interests of the majority of Venezuelan people. Its programming has been sexist, racist and pejorative. Most importantly, it actively participated in the 2002 coup against President Chavez. After he was reinstated to office by millions of Venezuelans, RCTV prohibited its reporters to broadcast ANY of this information, therefore denying its audience vital information about their democratically elected government. According to an article in the Houston Chronicle, that action in the USA "would not have lasted more than a few minutes with the FCC". RCTV was not closed then and had been broadcasting until this past May 27!

Although the opposition and their allies claim that the action against RCTV reflect a lack of freedom of expression (meaning criticism of the president) by private media, it is important to note that 80% of TV and Radio in that country is in private hands and have not been "silenced".

The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution last week stating "profound concern" for the Venezuelan government's action and requesting measures from the OAS, which is currently meeting in Panama. This was followed by a statement from U.S. House of Representatives Speaker, Nancy Pelosi stating her "concern about his (Chavez) leadership".

The USA Congress, which became predominantly Democrat due to anti-war voters in the Nov. 7 elections, and which has recently voted to fund a criminal war that has caused thousands of Iraqi and U.S. lives ignoring the voices of their constituents, has no moral or legal right to interfere in Venezuelan politics, let alone accuse President Chavez for suspending RCTV’s license. U.S.A. Congress people should instead learn from President Chavez on how to listen to the people.

In February 1997 Temple University administrators stopped the Pacifica Station from broadcasting through TU radio station WRTI in the city of the U.S. Constitution, Philadelphia. They shut it for the sole reason that it was the only station broadcasting the political commentaries of award-winning journalist and former Black Panther, Mumia Abu-Jamal--who remains today on death row in Pennsylvania, a victim of a frame up. Where was the media and Congress outrage? In fact in the United States, the voices of the opposition to the war or to U.S. foreign and domestic policy are very rarely heard in the main broadcasting stations or papers. Their coverage of the situation in Venezuela has mostly been one-sided, on the side of the opposition!

Many countries have supported Venezuela's government action. Among them, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, several countries in Asia, Alpha Konaré, ex-president of the African Union, the European Union, and China.

We urge President Bush administration, the U.S. Congress and the U.S. media to cease and desist your campaign of destabilization against Bolivarian Venezuela, its leader President Hugo Chávez, its people and to respect their right to sovereignty.


(add your name at http://iacenter.org/handsoffvenezuela.shtml )

Ramsey Clark

Vinie Burrows, actress, Women's International Democratic Federation

Peter Coyote, actor

George McCollough, Director Princeton Community TV

Cynthia McKinney, Former U.S. Congresswoman

Pastor Carla Harris, WURD 900AM Radio Host

Jon Jonik, Cartoonist

Teresa Gutiérrez, May 1st Coalition

Larry Holmes, Troops Out Now Coalition

Sara Flounders, IAC co-Director

David Sole, President UAW Local 2334, Detroit, Michigan

Larry Hales, FIST-(Fight Imperialism, Stand Together)

John Catalinotto, managing editor, Workers World Newspaper

Berta Joubert-Ceci, National Women's Fightback Network

- add your name here

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