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Opinion and Analysis: Venezuelan Media

The Reporters Without Borders Fraud

The strong suspicions that have surrounded the dubious and partisan activities of Reporters without Boarders (RSF) were not unfounded. For many years, various critics have denounced the largely political actions of the Parisian entity, particularly with regards to Cuba and Venezuela, whose characteristic use of propaganda is obvious. The positions of RSF against the governments of Havana and Caracas are found in perfect correlation with the political and media war that Washington carries out against the Cuban and Venezuelan revolutionaries.

Finally the truth has come to light. Mr. Robert Ménard, secretary general of the RSF for twenty years, has confessed to receiving financing from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), an organization that depends on the U.S. Department of State, whose principal role is to promote the agenda of the White House for the entire world. Ménard was indeed very clear. “We indeed receive money from the NED. And that hasn’t posed any problem.” (1)

Former U.S. president, Ronald Reagan, created the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in 1983, during a period in which military violence took the place of traditional diplomacy in order to resolve international matters. Thanks to its powerful ability of financial penetration, the NED’s goal is to weaken governments that would oppose the foreign hegemonic power of Washington. (2) In Latin America, the two targets are Cuba and Venezuela.

For example, the NED financed and continues financing the Venezuelan opposition, responsible for the coup d’état against President Chávez, April 2002. Since then, the Venezuelan oligarchy has organized, with the help of Washington, several unsuccessful destabilization attempts, since the failure of the recall referendum, the popular legitimacy of Mr. Chávez has been only reinforced. In 2004, thirteen groups opposed to the Bolivarian government received 874,384 dollars from the NED. In 2003, 15 splinter groups opposed to the Venezuelan presidents benefited from subsidies from the NED for a total of 1,046,323 dollars. (3)

At the same time, RSF has regularly whipped the government of Mr. Chávez, for example, accusing him of threatening the freedom of the press in a report that criticizes a law reform proposal about the broadcast media. (4) This reform proposes criminal punishment against broadcast media guilty of criminal activities such as the initiation of an armed uprising or subversion. This new legislation is an answer to the role of capital and makes it a criminal offense for those who operated the private information media during the fascist coupe of 2002 against the Venezuelan president, and their real outrages. Outrages that the RSF refrains from denouncing.

But the enemy par excellence for RSF continues being Cuba. The unceasing repetition of Mr. Ménard is almost obsessive, as the new propaganda campaign against the island shows, bound to cause harm to tourism. (5) The Bush Plan against Cuba must not be forgotten, which allocates a budget of five million dollars for the NGO’s who carry out activities looking for methods to discourage tourists from visiting Cuba, and which also makes an example of a name to follow, Reporters without Borders. (6)

Additionally, RSF admits providing economic help in Cuba to the “families of the thirty jailed journalists so that they can face the loss of income caused by the arrest of their family members.” If the ideological rhetoric of this sentence is suppressed, it reads that the RSF remunerates the families of the jailed people by receiving a salary from the Bush government, seriously threatening the integrity of the Cuban nation by collaborating with the development of economic sanctions. Given that Mr. Ménard received economic rewards from the United States government, it is the same as saying that Washington, directly financing from afar, also finances, by means of the RSF, people who are at their service in Cuba, which constitutes of course a serious violation of Cuban law. (7)

According to the 2004 annual report from the RSF, “at last 53 information professionals lost their lives in the practice of their jobs or for expressing their opinions.” Iraq is, according to this report, the most dangerous country for journalism with 19 reporters murdered. The U.S. Army, who has occupied Iraq since 2003, is responsible for these murders, since they control the country. However, the RSF, far from accusing the U.S. authorities, limits itself to once again taking up the official statement from Washington and describes the shots, which caused the deaths of the various journalists, as “accidental.” However, Iraq is not a priority for Mr. Ménard. (8)

On the American continent, according to the RSF, “twelve journalists lost their lives” in Mexico, in Brazil, and in Peru. Nevertheless, the target of the Parisian organization is again Cuba where, it has to be emphasized that not one journalist has been murdered since 1959. Venezuela is also found in the line of sight while no journalist there has lost their life. There are those who have established a relationship between the targets of the RSF and those from Washington and pointed out the strange coincidence. (9) The reprimands from the Secretary of State, Ms. Condoleeza Rice, were specifically destined towards Mr. Castro and Mr. Chavez, whose growing closeness concerns the United States a lot. (10) Of course it’s not just a matter of personalities (Fidel and Chavez), its the Cuban and Venezuelan societies’ programs in favor of the poor which are being attacked.
Likewise, it is well-known that Mr. Ménard frequently visits the extreme Cuban right in Miami with which he has signed agreements relative to the media war carried out against the Cuban Revolution. (11)

The financing of the RSF also raises some important questions. How can an organization that depends economically on the FNAC, the CFAO, Hewlett Packard Foundation from France, the Hachette Foundation, the EDF Foundation, the Bank of Deposits and Consignments (la Caja de Depósitos y Consignaciones), the Open Society Institution, the Royal Foundation Network, Sanofi-Synthelabo (now Sanofi-Aventis), Atlas Publications, Color Club, Globenet, and Cadena Ser be independent? How can an organization financed by the French state act impartially? It is impossible, and RSF’s positions supporting the coup d’état against president Aristide of Haiti shows it very clearly. (12) How can an organization that expects to defend journalists rejoice at the overthrow of a democratically elected president?

The budget for RSF for 2003 was up to 3,472,122 euros. According to annual accounts the revenue came from: 11% from the State, 12% from patrons, 4% from contributions and donations, 15% from the European Commission, 10% from operations, and 48% from the organization’s publications. This last figure is surprising for its importance. The sum of 1,984,853 euros supposedly came from only the sale of calendars. (13) The calendar costs 8 euros, which is the same as saying that the RSF manages to sell more then 249,106 calendars per year, or 680 calendars every day! This figure is much too excessive to be credible.

When expenses are looked at for 2003, the accounts show that only 7% of the budget is allocated to direct help for journalists with problems.(14) What happens with the remaining 93% of the budget? It is devoted to the job of propaganda and disinformation at the service of the interests of those who finance Reporters without Borders, namely the French state, and the large economic and financial groups, the extreme Cuban right from Florida and the U.S. Department of State.

“Defense of freedom of the press” is only a facade. Reporters without Borders is at the service of governments and the powerful economic and financial interests. It is the reason why the main threat to freedom of the press, the concentration of the means of information, has never been denounced by Mr. Ménard’s organization. It is the reason by which the RSF, among others, never has been interested in the luck of Mr. Mumia Abu-Jamal, the U. S. journalist jailed for over twenty years for his writings and his political positions. Unfortunately, the collusion between Mr. Ménard, the large press, and financial capital hinders citizens from discovering the real objectives that they hide behind a humanitarian smokescreen.

Notes
(1) Robert Ménard, « Forum de discussion avec Robert Ménard », Le Nouvel Observateur, 18 de abril de 2005. www.nouvelobs.com/forum/archives/forum_284.html (sitio consultado el 22 de abril de 2005).
(2) National Endowment for Democracy, « About Us ». www.ned.org/about/about.html  (sitio consultado el 27 de abril de 2005).
(3) National Endowment for Democracy, « NED Venezuela Programs ». www.ned.org/grants/venezuelaFacts.html  (sitio consultado el 27 de abril de 2005).
(4) Reporters sans frontières, « Reporters sans frontières dénonce une régression de la liberté de la presse », 26 de noviembre de 2004. www.rsf.org/article.php3id_article=12968  (sitio consultado el 27 de abril de 2005).
(5) Reporters sans frontières, « Deux ans après le « printemps noir » : urgence humanitaire pour 21 journalistes emprisonnés », 16 mars 2005. www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=12882  (sitio consultado el 27 de abril de 2005).
(6) Colin L. Powell, Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, (Washington: United States Department of State, mayo de 2004). www.state.gov/documents/organization/32334.pdf  (sitio consultado el 7 de mayo de 2004), p. 20.
(7) Reporters sans frontières, « Aides apportées aux journalistes emprisonnés et aux médias en difficulté », 2004. www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=7581  (sitio consultado el 23 de abril de 2005).
(8) Reporters sans frontières, « Bilan 2004. L’année la plus meurtrière depuis dix ans : 53 journalistes tués », 2005. www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=12232  (sitio consultado el 23 de abril de 2005).
(9) Ibid.
(10) El Nuevo Herald, « Castro y Chávez llaman a una alianza contra EEUU », 30 de abril de 2005.
(11) Salim Lamrani, Cuba face à l’Empire : Propagande, guerre économique et terrorisme d’Etat (Outremont, Lanctôt, 2005), capítulo VI.
(12) Reporters sans frontières, « La liberté de la presse retrouvée : un espoir à entretenir », julio de 2004. www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=10888  (sitio consultado el 23 de abril de 2005).
(13) Reporters sans frontières, « Comptes de Reporters sans frontières 2003 », 2004. www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=10589  (sitio consultado el 27 de abril de 2005).
(14) Ibid.