Chávez and the communications media

  • Left Voice | 
  • July 9, 2007

We publish below a letter that a comrade sent us, the editorial staff
of La Verdad Obrera, and the reply by Milton D’León, from the Juventud
de Izquierda Revolucionaria (JIR), on the non-renewal of RCTV’s
license and the policy we revolutionaries ought to raise.

In his question, the comrade only raises two possible alternatives:
supporting the government’s measure or suggesting that the station
should continue in the hands of the old owners, notable leaders of
domestic reactionaries, like all the other owners of big media that
continue in private hands. Under the statement that “you end up not
having a politics that can guide these same workers on what they have
to do about the measure taken against RCTV,” there is, in reality, a
political thought of supporting Chávez’ measure, since no one on the
left would reply that “it [RCTV] should return to its old owners.” The
so-called “trap” is only a poorly posed question from a
revolutionary politics, on not seeing any perspective of a workers’
solution, although [it is] correct from a logic of camps: Chávez or
the reactionaries. In the concrete case, the comrade does not see the
possibility of an independent workers’ policy to counter the
reactionary media, and he believes that “it leads to confusing the

In our May 31 declaration, we clearly said: “We insist that the media
in the hands of business owners is a tremendous threat to the workers
and to the people… we firmly believe that it is essential to conduct a
tireless struggle against the reactionary media and press.
Furthermore, we believe that the most effective manner to combat the
media and the press that the bourgeoisie presently continue to hold in
order to maintain their dominance and system of exploitation is to
take them into our own hands, building and extending the media and the
press of the working class and the poor in the service of their true
interests. Under no circumstances do we think that as a result of the
restrictive measures of the State towards the reactionary media and
press the workers, peasants and poor can free themselves of the
influence of the reactionary ideas and the prevailing thinking of the
capitalist class.”

We maintain, as history has shown, that [with] any restriction of
democracy in bourgeois society, like present Venezuelan society,
those who end up suffering the ultimate consequences of these
measures [to restrict democracy] are the workers and the people
themselves. For this reason, we declare that the workers are the ones
who must win total and complete freedom of the press for their own
media and organizations, and not by means of the fist of the
government apparatus as a substitution for this struggle. Far from
looking for Bonapartist measures, even against reactionary media, the
working class must trust only in its methods of struggle and create
its own media spaces and instruments, acquired by its own struggle and
direct action methods. Doesn’t this mean taking an explicit position?
Chávez’ measure is a Bonapartist measure of the bourgeois state, and
this must not be lost sight of. It is adopted to strengthen the power
of the bourgeois state over public opinion to convince [them] even
more of its project of class conciliation and regimentation of the
workers’ movement, as their project of reducing the autonomy of the
unions and building a PSUV from the hand of businessmen, shows. No, we
do not support this measure by the bourgeois state, however
embellished as leftist [the measure] is, that it Is now against the
reactionary press (proven [to be] a lie now that [the government of
Chávez] arrives at an agreement with Gustavo Cisneros, the main coup
plotter of the media), since [the measure] will end up by falling on
the workers. Contrary to thinking that this would entail that the
station remain with its old owners, — as the only alternative that
remains for comrade Max — we state categorically that only where the
means of production in general and those of production of information
in particular are in the hands of the workers, will we have real
freedom of expression of all the tendencies of public opinion in
general, with full equality really to guarantee this freedom.

For this reason, we declare that a real struggle to undertake, as an
independent workers’ policy, is to prepare to take in our hands the
media that the bourgeoisie now continues to hold, as the workers and
people of Oaxaca recently did when they seized the reactionary media
and put them at the service of the struggle.


Mail from Readers

The truth is that I do not understand you in your article about RCTV.
You have to take a position because if you don’t, you confuse [us].
First choice: to support the government’s measure, and indicate all
the limitations that it has, or not to support it, in which case you
should call for the station to be restored to its old owners. What is
your position? What do you say to the workers, should we reject the
bourgeois government’s intervention in RCTV and take it under our
control ourselves? What politics did you have at the rally that Chávez
called to reaffirm his decision (if you attended [it])? I agree with
you on many of the observations you make about the Chávez government’s
class content, on Trotsky’s concept about freedom of expression, but
if you do not apply all these characterizations to the Venezuelan
revolutionary situation, and to the illusions of the Venezuelan
workers, that they have in their leader, you end up not having a
politics that can guide these same workers on what they have to do
about the measure taken against RCTV. Do you support it or not?

(*)Translation by Yosef M.

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