Updated: Oct 26, 2022
How the Maduro Regime strives for a monopoly of information by regulation of media. Private mass communication must self censor. To do otherwise would result in a risk legal litigation and revocation of license.
By Harshul Makim
Freedom Voice Reports
"The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them." --Thomas Jefferson to Edward Carrington, 1787
As with the press outlets in Venezuela under Maduro's rule, numerous radio and television stations have been forced to self-censor or simply avoid sensitive topics. While many have left their chosen profession, others who wish to remain in the business must avoid running afoul of the regime or risk legal consequences ranging from revocation of their operating licenses and litigation to harassment in their personal lives.
Such is the reality for Union Radio that was .."known for its strong criticism of the populist socialist government of Nicolas Maduro and before him Hugo Chavez. But under pressure from authorities increasingly intolerant of criticism, Union Radio has been forced to police its own content." (France24)
The campaign of stigmatization, harassment, repression, and oppression has been gradual,
consistent and systematic. Entire organizations that dared to voice their disagreements and
criticism against the Maduro regime have been shutdown. Included among these organizations are... "Efecto Cocuyo, community radio channel Fe y Alegría, as well as the National Press Workers Union, VPI TV, and news journal Panorama...According to Venezuelan human rights organization PROVEA, during the first 8 months of the state of emergency declared in response to the pandemic, 66 journalists and media staff have been detained in Venezuela." (Human Rights Watch)
The airwaves remain one of the most powerful tools at the disposal of any government to control the narrative and to frame the perspectives of a citizenry. Well versed in the history of social control, the henchmen of the Maduro regime have embarked on an unrelenting campaign to eliminate opposition through monopolizing some of the greatest mass communication technologies in history. Through this the regime hopes to achieve a reality in which the great majority of its citizens will remain obedient due to the well conditioning of their minds. The only way to achieve this is through a steady dose of falsehoods and misinterpretations, each year, each month, each week, each day, and each hour of their lives.
As reported by France24, "A structured censorship mechanism has been put in place...under Venezuela's restricted media ecosystem, which Reporters Without Borders has called a "communication hegemony", major media outlets like Union Radio are forced to take protective measures like creating an internal "VAR". A VAR is a video assistant referee in the sport's world who makes the final call at times during games. Similarly, those individuals who assist media organizations in determining which content will be allowed on the airwaves are also called VARs, but in this context the term is meant to be comical and derogatory.
Such is the state of affairs within the once thriving journalism industry of Venezuela, where
freedom of expression, a basic human right as accepted by free societies throughout the world, is being trampled upon by the boot of the current autocratic government. One of the tactics being utilized by the Maduro regime is to brand a media outlet as traitorous by alleging that it is attempting to advance the interests of a foreign power.
Since early 2021 ... "independent media organizations such as Efecto Cocuyo and El Pitazo have been accused, first by pro-government media and later by Venezuelan authorities—including Maduro himself—of advancing foreign “interference” efforts in exchange for international cooperation." (Human Rights Watch). It is an age old trick of authoritarian regimes to present an imagined collective threat to the populace in order to rally public sentiment and direct it against its opposition.
This is accomplished through state control media that includes Venezolana de Television, Radio Nacional de Venezuela, Union Radio Noticias and other privately owned enterprises such as Globovision, Venevision, and Televen that must do the government's bidding in order to survive. The actions of Maduro's regime have been criticized and condemned by Amnesty International, Washington Office of Latin America, and International Commission of Jurists, along with multiple democratic governments of the world. Through such practices the Maduro regime continues to silence the speech of those who dare to disagree with it.
"The most effectual engines for [pacifying a nation] are the public papers... [A despotic]
government always [keeps] a kind of standing army of newswriters who, without any
regard to truth or to what should be like truth, [invent] and put into the papers whatever
might serve the ministers. This suffices with the mass of the people who have no means of
distinguishing the false from the true paragraphs of a newspaper". --Thomas Jefferson to
G. K. van Hogendorp, Oct. 13, 1785