Tuesday, February 3, 2015

TalCual: Venezuela’s TalCual Banned from Reporting


Although Diosdado Cabello, the head of the Venezuelan Parliament, has the luxury to denigrate any citizen on his TV show broadcast every Wednesday night, now he’s got mad at this newspaper (TalCual) and filed a new lawsuit against it, along with other privately-run media such as El Nacional and La Patilla, for having run a story published by Spain-based daily ABC that directly involves him in drug trafficking activities 

By TalCual

We know from experience that Diosdado Cabello, the head of the Parliament, doesn’t like people to have an opinion on his very public actions, something that concerns us all as Venezuelans. He filed a lawsuit against this newspaper (TalCual) that implies serving some prison time, paying fines and precautionary measures, over an insignificant phrase he was quoted as saying in October of 2012 and that was briefly used in an opinion article written by an external collaborator of this daily.

On top of that, the phrase had already been made available in the public domain by then. And beyond getting a simple complaint from Cabello (at most), this whole deal turned into a judicial butchery that not only involved the abovementioned columnist but our editor-in-chief, Teodoro Petkoff, and board members who have nothing to do with the contents that were published.

A court case like nobody has ever seen in the history of attacks against freedom of speech in this country. But we have talked a lot about that subject already.

Now Cabello has launched new threats against TalCual for an even more unique reason. Just for replying to an article published by Spain-based daily ABC that has expand throughout the world, in which Capt. Leamsy Salazar, a former member of the security team of the late Hugo Chávez, allegedly makes serious allegations against Cabello.

Salazar accused him of being a leader of a drug cartel, specifically the famed "Cartel of Suns," apparently, among other things. Of course it is none of our concern the journalistic bias of ABC (the primary information source) toward the issue, but without doubt, it is based on some very truthful events such as the defection of Salazar, his link with the DEA, and that he is assisting in giving evidence in the filing of charges against Cabello.

The best proof of that is the angry response of Cabello; of President Nicolás Maduro; of the women, lawmakers and armed forces officials loyal to both of them, now despising, accusing and insulting Salazar for messing with the Government. Or the statements by U.S. senior officials in the related area.

So informing the public on this kind of news – there are unethical media that haven’t – is to comply with the minimum mission of journalism, given the importance of the news. By the way, let’s say that TalCual also published the replies of Cabello and those of some of his supporters.

Ultimately, Cabello didn’t like TalCual running that kind of information either, which represents the most basic and essential level of journalism.

All of these phobias related to the freedom to report and comment are quite rare in a gentleman hosting a weekly TV show, where without presenting the smallest tidbit of evidence, he makes the most terrible accusations against numerous citizens.

In fact, his antics on his show are so terrible that even bishops of the Catholic Church have condemned these actions and compared his TV show with the ever-shameful La Hojilla (the razer blade) broadcast by state-run VTV a couple of years ago. Not to mention all of his "war exploits" as head of the Parliament. He who denies journalists the minimum conditions to express themselves may become the greatest offender of the county.

Diosdado Cabello: when you gave us the first blow you did not silence us, although you hurt us pretty badly. Perhaps the most serious of all blows, at emotional level, is watching Petkoff, undoubtedly one of the great leaders in contemporary Latin America, having to appear before a sordid court at such an advanced age -- we assure you that will leave a mark on you forever.

Lastly, we want you to be clear that your new threats will not deflect our commitment to all the Venezuelans who read us every day.

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