Venezuela. Media Alert

Community TV station Catia TVe shut down by opposition mayor of Caracas. Call to action in defense of freedom of expression

Blanca Eekhout, director of Catia TVe.
Photo by: Martín Sánchez - Aporrea.org

Blanca Eekout, the director of Caracas' popular community television station Catia TVe, denounced through Venezuela's National Public Radio (RNV), the forced closure of the TV station by Caracas' Metropolitan mayor Alfredo Peña.

Mr. Peña is an ex-journalist and ex-director of El Nacional, one of Venezuela’s most important newspapers, and he is one of the most ferocious opponents of President Hugo Chávez.

"We have suffered an assault, a violation of our right to freedom of expression because of an absolutely illegal measure was taken against our TV station.  It was closed by the metropolitan mayor Alfredo Peña and the director of health of the metropolitan Mayor's office, Pedro Aristimuño," Eekhout said.

The director of Catia TVe also denounced the confiscation of the station's equipment. "In the morning, without previous notice, without a court order, and without a judge present, they sent a commission composed of a lawyer and an engineer to lock and weld the door of the entrance to our transmission studio, a very small studio located on the 5th floor of the Jesus Yerena hospital in western Caracas where all of our equipment is located, equipment we use to go on the air everyday to broadcast to our community, Catia. They proceeded to take our equipment without any warning whatsoever."

She added, "This is an arbitrary measure and a slap in the face to the community by people that claim to defend the flags of freedom of expression. They want to silence a station because it disturbs the interests of the big mass media.  The metropolitan mayor's office is attempting to silence the community, but this will not happen because our means of communications goes beyond a transmitter. Ours is a permanent human communication, and our community has transformed from being passive to active participants in communication."

Eekhout announced that they would take actions against the metropolitan mayor because of the gross violation of the right to freedom of expression and because of the confiscation of their property.

Catia TVe´s volunteers in action
Photo by: Antiescualidos.com
Catia TVe: A voice for the voiceless of their community

The goal of Catia TVe is to provide a voice and representation to those marginalized by the commercial media in the community where thay live and operate.

Catia TVe played an important role in mobilizations for the defense of democracy and to bring down the dictatorship of Pedro Carmona, who overthrew the democratically elected government of Hugo Chávez with the help of leaders of the most powerful commercial media in Venezuela.

The television station and their volunteers were persecuted by Carmona's dictatorship. All of this happened without commercial media coverage, for the benefit of the short-lived repressive regime. In spite of this, Catia TVe and other alternative broadcasters resisted and this was part of the reason why they won the National Award for Journalism for Alternative Media, an award created by the national government in 2002, but mysteriously cancelled in 2003.

This attack on community and alternative media, is just the latest in a long chaing of agressions from opposition civilians and politicians, which are ignored by the big private commercial media giants and by organizations that claim to defend freedom of press and expression, but who in reality act only in the interest of the private media companies that make of journalism a very profitable bussiness.

Catia TVe officials announced recently that this violation of freedom of the press will be denounced at the Organization of American States and the European Parliament.

See call to action in English and Spanish in www.aporrea.org/dameletra.php?docid=3871

More coverage in English at www.narconews.com/Issue30/article808.html and www.americasdemocracy.org/takeaction.htm

Translated by Robin Nieto, Toronto, Canada and Martín Sánchez, Aporrea.org


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