The Inter-american Court of Human Rights issued a decision today in the case of the government’s denial to renew the broadcasting license of RCTV  in 2007. The court has ordered that RCTV’s broadcasting license be renewed, and that it be allowed to broadcast on Venezuela’s channel 2.

RCTV, the highest-rated network at the time, was shut down in May 2007 after the Chavez government denied the channel’s broadcast license renewal application after allegations that it had actively collaborated in a coup against him. RCTV had been on the air since 1953.

The station’s shutdown came after years of threats from the national government that media outlets that spoke against it could have their broadcasting licenses revoked.

The court found that the failure to renovate the broadcasting license constitutes a violation of the freedom of expression, and that by threatening to not renew the license the state was in effect abusing its power to force the station into changing its editorial line.

Part of the ruling reads:

In this case, an indirect restriction to the freedom of expression was achieved through the use of mediums aimed at hindering the communication and circulation of ideas and opinions.

The decision states that the victims were not only RCTV and its employees, but also Venezuelan citizens who were suddenly deprived of the editorial line RCTV provided. By refusing to renew RCTV’s license while at the same time renewing that of other media outlets that same day, the government acted against the right to freedom of expression.

The court also found that the Venezuelan government violated the right to due process of law throughout the legal processes following the shut-down of the station.

The decision comes over a year since a hearing saw RCTV’s lawyers facing government representatives at the court. In May 2014, German Saltron – the government representative at the hearing – argued that far from being an attempt to silence dissent, the station’s license was not renewed because it occupied a spectrum the government believed should be used for public broadcasting. At the time, Saltron also argued:

RCTV was abusing the freedom of expression. Its programming showed evidence of constant twisting of facts, hiding of statistics and manipulation of statements, presenting events in a way that censured the right to truthful and convenient information.

The entire ruling, in Spanish, can be found here.

Maduro Back in Venezuela

Maduro returned to Venezuela last night following a trip to Asia and and the Caribbean.

He spoke on the border crisis with Colombia, and accused Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos of avoiding him. He said:

I’ve spoken with the Foreign Ministers from Argentina and Brazil. They brought be a proposal. They told me that they had spoken to the Colombian government, and that President Santos was willing to accept my request to meet him face to face. I’m waiting (…) I feel – right here inside me, and I tell you this with all the sincerity in the world – that I think that President Santos doesn’t want to talk.

After ordering sections of the border with Tachira state to close on August 19, Maduro left the country for Vietnam on August 30. Foreign Affairs Minister Maria Angela Holguin has repeatedly claimed that Maduro has ignored multiple calls from Santos’s office.

Late in the day, Santos issued a statement saying that he agreed to meet Maduro. Santos said:

Last week I got a call from the President of Uruguay, Tabare Vazquez, who offered his office to facilitate a dialogue with Venezuela. I accepted his offer, and I suggested that the meeting take place in Montevideo, if that’s deemed necessary.

Santos also thanked all of the countries and individuals who had offered their help to solve the dispute.

Holguin Begins Diplomatic Tour

Holguin left Colombia today on a diplomatic tour that will see her visit the offices of human rights organizations in Geneva to raise awareness of her side’s viewpoint on the border crisis. Yesterday, she met with the head of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro, in Cucuta, where the two visit the deportee camps in the city.

Holguin is scheduled to meet with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, as well as with officials from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Holguin is also expected to meet with the head of the International Organization for Migration, William Lacy Swing.

Following her meetings in Geneva, Holguin will meet with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the organization’s headquarters in New York city, as well as with the head of the United Nations Office for the Coordinator of Humanitarian Affairs.

47.8% of Venezuelans Blame Government for Scarcity

A poll conducted by the Instituto Venezolano de Analisis de Datos (IVAD) found that 47.8% of respondents blame the national government for the scarcity crisis the country is suffering. Another 14.3% blame Maduro specifically for the crisis, while 7.1% blamed smugglers and bachaqueros.

Antonio Ledezma Has Been In Detention for 200 Days

The mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma, has been in detention for 200 days, following his arrest on February 19 on charges of conspiracy. Ledezma is one of the country’s top opposition figures.

Ledezma’s case has drawn international attention, with numerous human rights organizations and individuals calling for his release.

Ledezma’s wife, Mitzy Capriles, spoke on the milestone, saying:

Hundreds of political leaders, former Presidents, academics, diplomats, intellectuals and ordinary citizens, national and international, have called for his release. So far, we’ve only managed to achieve the [his placing into] house arrest following health problems, but house arrest is still arrest. Antonio is a great democratic fighter and defender of human rights. At this house, I appreciate the fact that all around the world there are politicians with the will – but above all, people with humanity – who back us up on our struggle, and who side with the truth. Your allows us to continue to stand and know that we are not alone.

Initially, it was not known why Ledezma was being arrested. Once he was taken into custody, hundreds of people camped outside one of the SEBIN headquarters in Caracas and demanded information about Ledezma. It was only when Maduro spoke on television that night and accused Ledezma of comitting “crimes against the peace of the country” that the reason for the arrest became known.

102 Murders in Caracas in 7 Days

The first seven days of September have seen 102 murder victims pass through the doors of the Bello Monte morgue in Caracas. There were 56 murders between Friday and Monday alone.

Questions/Comments? E-mail me: invenezuelablog@gmail.com

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