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Opinion and Analysis: Law and Justice | Media Watch | Military | Opposition | Venezuelan Media

“Please, tell the truth, if they let you"

November 27th 2008- The [Venezuelan] president asked a CNN correspondent and anchor of that channel to clarify that he never said that he "would bring tanks into the street" if the opposition won. He also requested that Glenda Omana straighten out that the government did not order any "information prohibition" in Venezuela.

The president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuelan, Hugo Chavez Frias, criticized the position taken by the chain CNN in the days leading up to the regional elections of November 23.

In a press conference with the international media, and after the CNN journalist and known anchor of the channel, Patricia Janiot, asked a question, the president wanted to, before responding to her, to ask her for explanations about an accusation that she made on that channel, relating to idea that Chavez "would bring the tanks into the street" if some of the opposition candidates won.

"That Chavez threatened to bring out the tanks! You saw it, Patricia, right?" Chavez asked Janiot. The journalist confirmed it. "CNN said it?" Chavez asked. The journalist confirmed it again and replied with something that couldn't be heard by those following the event on television. "You said it, but taking it out of context, which is one of the problems with you all! It was totally taken out of context."

Decontextualization describes the act of quoting or showing only a fragment of the declarations of a person, omitting the rest in order to make the onlookers believe that that person said something that in reality they didn't say.

"I know that you said it because I heard you, and it makes me sad," said the Venezuelan leader later to Janiot. The journalist responded, but her words weren't heard because there wasn't a microphone nearby.

"I think that you are a good journalist, and I believe that you are an honest woman, but I think that you are a victim of the speed that you all have there, of talking to the world and telling them things." The journalist again responded with something that couldn't be heard, to which Chavez responded, "But you must take responsibility. In order to say something so serious as that, you should say ‘wait a minute, find the complete declaration for me'...you committed the serious error of decontextualization and of manipulation," which he classified as a "a serious error for a journalist."

He asked Janiot to clarify her words. "I ask you to clarify to the world, I ask you for this, if they let you." The journalist indicated that they would allow her to, to which Chavez responded, "If they indeed allow you to, Patricia, because you don't run CNN. Up to a certain point you are in charge, but they order you things."

Chavez reiterated again that her words about the war tanks were taken out of context. "What I said was that, in a situation where the opposition won state governor positions and tried to convert states into bases for coup plotting, violence and (separatism), well I would have to bring tanks into the street. I said it like that, Patricia, I ask it of you, in honour of the truth and morality. But I never threatened to bring out tanks if we lost."

"And you should know, if you already know me a little, that I'm incapable of doing something like that. I'm not some crazy person. A year ago, I lost a referendum for constitutional reform by 10 or 15,000 votes and I came out immediately to call the people to go home and accept defeat."

"I've been here for almost 10 years. I have won, I have lost state governments and local governments. And what I have done each time that there is an electoral process and some opposition party wins, what I do is I present them my hand and my good will to ask them to forget the craziness, to not allow themselves to be manipulated and to spur on paths of craziness and destabilization to fill the country with violence."

"Information prohibition"

Similarly, Chavez referred to another assertion made by a journalist for CNN, Glenda Oman, who said on Sunday that the Venezuelan government had ordered an ‘information prohibition' a week before the elections.

Omana stated on CNN, "We want to take advantage of this report to inform you that, under the order of the Venezuelan government, an information prohibition has been applied during the week prior to these elections, which prohibits the distribution of material promoting candidates and the results of polls and opinion surveys.

To this, Chavez responded, "How can you (CNN) state something that you haven't investigated? It wasn't the government of Chavez who prohibited the distribution of political propaganda days before the elections. This is in the law and the Electoral Power stipulated this," Chavez explained. He continued, "But the intention is to make my government seem disrespectful and like a curtailer of political rights." Janiot responded that the statements by Omana were rectified afterwards, but Chavez replied that the damage was already done.

Chavez asked Andres Izarra to give "Patricia (Janiot) all my telephone numbers, including my one, mine," and also the number of the minister of the presidential office, Hector Rodriguez, so that CNN can verify any information that it needs. "Lets see if CNN changes a little its evaluation, not about me but about this people, this country and this government, that deserve respect, and that they always disrespect."

And he brought tanks into the streets

Chavez said that on one occasion he did have to bring tanks out into the street, in November 2002, "I took the war tanks out straight away, in order to take the Caracas Metropolitan Police headquarters that were in the hands of the city mayor," he said. "And what did I want to do as president? Cross my arms and allow those fascists to keep massacring a people?" he said.

In those days, there were continuous protests by Chavez sectors in Bolivar Plaza and its surroundings, which were repressed by the PM [Metropolitan Police] with lethal arms, leaving many dead. Active militia, but without soldiers, had taken Altamira Plaza in ‘legitimate disobedience' and it was rumoured that the city mayor, Alfredo Pena, who participated in the coup of April 2002, would use the 15,000 police for a new attempt at a coup de etat.

Currently, some 12 police of this police body are being tried for their participation in the coup of 2002. Videos and photos show them using lethal arms against a rally of Chavez supporters during the fateful coup, in which 19 people died.

Chavez requested "that the new city mayor not go down the same path of that man who is now fleeing justice (Alfredo Pena) and who used the police force that he had in his hands, with war weapons, tanks and everything, to kill people in the streets."

Translated for Venezuelanalysis.com by Tamara Pearson, video and original document available at http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=76589&titular=%22por-favor-di-la-verdad-si-te-dejan%22-