Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez has been making headlines recently with assorted nutty proclamations, one a comedic assertion that capitalism ended life on Mars. More recently, the portly despot gave us a good chuckle when he lectured Venezuelans to watch their calorie count. Yet when the good buddy of Moammar Gaddafi has suppressed freedom of speech within his own country by shutting down radio and television stations, it’s no laughing matter.
Now the man who stifles the free speech of his own countrymen has perversely received a so-called journalism award from an Argentina university. The journalism faculty at La Plata University, say they’re honoring Chavez, oddly enough, “for his unquestionable and authentic commitment to support the freedom of peoples.”
If that slobbering drivel isn’t enough, Chavez himself goes full Orwell: “Here there is democracy, now there is, and lively I’m sure, very dynamic, with an open debate just like in Venezuela, and a president who is an absolute defender of human rights and freedom of expression, freedom of the press and freedom of thought.”
Open debate. Freedom of the press. Sure, except on those radio and television stations that are no longer operating, thanks to this champion of “freedom of thought.”
The president of the InterAmerican Press Association, Gonzalo Marroquin, reacted with understated disbelief, noting Chavez is a “clear enemy of freedom of the press.” He continued: “It would take a long time to enumerate the long chain of actions that Chavez has taken against the right of the Venezuelan people to receive information.”