|Edward Snowden - |
on his way to Caracas?
I hope Snowden makes it to some safe harbor. He's a courageous guy, who's done us a service by exposing the U.S. government's pervasive and virtually unsupervised snooping apparatus. Government espionage is useful and invevitable.
|A Venezulan newspaper protests government censorship.|
But, collect everybody's information all the time - just in case it's useful someday? Administer the secret system with a secret court whose judges give the spyers almost everything they ask for? That's the formula for trampling dissent whenever a Nixon or J. Edgar Hoover gets his paws on that data.
|'Media Being Asphixiated' in Venezuela. |
A protest by the
Institute of Press and Society.
Under President Chavez and his succesor Nicolas Maduro, the Venezuelan government has systematically intimdated, economically strangled and straight-out shut down opposition media. The two most recent to go have been the opposition TV channel Globovision and the independent Cadena Capriles media group, both recently sold to owners who are apparently close to the government. Previously, the government had forced the vehemently hostile RCTV off of the air. The chavistas have eliminated nearly all checks and balances, enabling them to trample on civil rights.
|Venezuelans protest the closing of RCTV, |
Venezuela's oldest television station and a harsh government critic.
"While freedoms of speech and the press are constitutionally guaranteed, the legal environment is characterized by standing threats of arbitrary detention, charges, fines, and sentences, as well as license manipulation and other administrative harassment aimed at opposition media, primarily broadcast stations and daily newspapers," Freedom House wrote.
For its part, the Inter American Press Association condemned "the progressive elimination of independent media" in Venezuela.
|'Snowden's Latin American Defenders Don't Lead by |
Example,' says the Wall Street Journal.
As for Ecaudor, another possible Snowden destination, Freedome House wrote: "Ecuador declined from Partly Free to Not Free due to government-sponsored regulations that severely restricted media coverage of electoral campaigns, President Rafael Correa’s directive to withdraw government advertising from privately owned media that are critical of the government, and a general reduction in political and investigative reporting due to an increasingly hostile environment for the press created by the Correa government."
And Freedom House published that condemnation even before this year's Ecuadorean press law, which turned newspapers into 'public service utilities', enabling the government to control their content.
As badly as the U.S.'s espionage has played overseas, Washington compounded this p.r. disaster with its heavyhanded efforts to stop and search Bolivian Pres. Evo Morales' plane on its way home from Russia. And the latest revelations of U.S. spying in Brazil, Colombia and Mexico will only mean more regional sympathy for Venezuela and the chavistas.
|An ambitious reporter with El Tiempo |
changed Snowden's ex-employer to the CIA.
Needless to say, and as many have pointed out, by creating a huge, potentially repressive state security apparatus, we're doing the terrorists' work for them. I suspect that Venezuela would not be Snowden's first choice. But it's understandable that he'd prefer even an authoritarian state to prison in the United States.
I just hope that snowden, who seems principled and courageous, will have the backbone to denounce the repressive acts of his new hosts.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours