Venezuelan opposition paper fined for satire

Leftwing Venezuelan opposition figure Teodoro Petkoff and the newspaper he directs, Tal Cual, came up in a recent thread.

Tal Cual, as it happens, is the latest target of the Chavez government’s assault on freedom of the press. A writer for the paper and its publisher have been fined for a satirical article in the form of a letter to Chavez’s young daughter.

[Laureano] Marquez insists he meant no harm when he used 9-year-old Rosines as a medium for mocking her father’s decision in 2005 to remake Venezuela’s coat of arms so that a white horse would appear galloping left, not right – an evident metaphor for Chavez’s revolutionary politics.

During a broadcast of his radio and television show, “Hello President,” Chavez told listeners that Rosines said the horse looked strange running to the right while craning its neck in the opposite direction.

Within weeks, pro-Chavez lawmakers pushed through a reform changing the country’s coat of arms.

“He considered changing the coat of arms due to a suggestion from his daughter,” Marquez said. “I simply wrote her a letter asking her to request another series of changes.”

In the editorial, he suggested she ask her father to trade the horse on the new coat of arms for a devoted house pet, such as a golden retriever or tortoise – “a good symbol of our sluggishness in everything.”

“Also tell him not to talk about things beyond 2021,” Marquez wrote. “He shouldn’t do it because those of us who don’t agree with him (don’t worry, there are fewer of us every day, according to the official statistics) get desperate, which isn’t good.”

A local court ordered the fines for “violating the honor, reputation and private life” of Rosines.

Of course it was Chavez who brought his daughter into the public light in the first place.

In 1980, during a debate with Ronald Reagan, President Jimmy Carter told about discussing the threat of nuclear war with his young daughter Amy. The ridicule he and Amy got from the media was merciless, but I don’t remember any newspapers or TV stations being hauled into court for it.

Reporters Without Borders called the fines an apparent political punishment. The Committee to Protect Journalists also condemned them.

The Associated Press reported:

Chavez denies restricting press freedoms. But he recently announced that the government will not renew the broadcasting license of the nation’s oldest television station when it expires in May, and has accused Venezuela’s privately owned media of conspiring to topple his government with U.S. backing.

Said Marquez: “I wish the government would tell me where I can (file a) claim because until now the CIA hasn’t paid me anything.”

After accusations by some commenters of being in the pocket of US/Zionist imperialism, I know the feeling.