Accusations of Censorship in Venezuela’s Suena Caracas Music Festival: Public or Private?

Venezuelan free software activist Luigino Bracci addresses accusations that state channel Avila TV “censored” the beginning of a song by an anti-government group which was critical of corruption during the music festival Suena Caracas.

By Luigino Bracci - Aporrea.org
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Horacio Blanco, the leader of the group Desorden Publico, during Saturday’s performance in the Suena Caracas festival (agencies)
Horacio Blanco, the leader of the group Desorden Publico, during Saturday’s performance in the Suena Caracas festival (agencies)

Venezuelan free software activist Luigino Bracci addresses accusations that state channel Avila TV “censored” the beginning of a song by an anti-government group which was critical of corruption. The song was played on Saturday night by ska group Desorden Publico (Public Disorder) during the First Festival of Latin American Music Suena Caracas. The festival is organised by the government-run Liberator Municipality of Caracas, and runs from Friday 28 November to Saturday 6 December. 172 national and international acts are playing, with events being free or tickets sold at affordable prices.

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On Saturday 29 November the concerts of the Suena Caracas Music Festival continued with performances by Café Tacuba, Cultura Profetica, Campesinos Rap, Zapato 3, Los que Rezan and other groups. The crowd madly applauded Zapato 3 and Café Tabuca above all.

The performance by the Venezuelan ska group Desorden Publico, highly known for their radical opposition character, was controversial. Unlike [Venezuelan rock band] Zapato 3, who gave a spectacular concert reviving all of their classics, Desorden preferred to concentrate on new and controversial songs from their most recent albums.

In one of these, Horacio Blanco, the leader of the group, exclaimed, “This is a song for 2015 and we decided to play it because it sounds good. It’s a song that confronts the issue of corruption: it’s the truth”. At that moment Avila TV [a state TV channel covering the Venezuelan capital and aimed at young audiences] took the broadcast off air, to then return to it 20 seconds later during the song. The song was an irony of inefficiency and failures in the functioning of public services, and culminated with “If they’re going to keep robbing us, let’s at least change the thieves”. Then, “Do we agree or not?” to which the public massively shouted “Yes!”, then singing, “Don’t screw us over anymore!”

On social media this Sunday, opposition supporters applauded the gesture of Desorden Publico. Chavistas, on the other hand, were divided between those who criticised the continued hiring of these kind of opposition [musicians]; those that defended the “tolerance” of the Bolivarian government; those that harshly criticised Desorden Publico because their song, far from going against corruption, asked for the corrupt to be rotated; and those that recalled that DP had always been an anti-government band, without mattering who was in power.

In their repertoire, Desorden Publico included: This is Ska, Bad Breath, Peace Music, Racism is a Sickness, Skeleton Dance, I like Disorder, Power Intoxicates, Prelude of the Contrarios, and Gorilon. Then they began to sing “Cry for a Dollar”, the moment in which Avila TV’s broadcast stopped and went to adverts. State radio RNV broadcast the whole concert. At least four songs broadcast included direct criticisms of Maduro’s government. [Translator’s note: the main state run TV channel, VTV, also broadcast the critical song without interruption].

Some right-wing media outlets, like La Patilla, accused Avila TV of censorship. The fact is that Avila broadcast almost the whole concert, but neither they (Patilla TV) or Activa (TV) could broadcast Café Tacuba [Mexican alternative rock band] or Cultura Profetica [Puerto Rican reggae band]: the contracts imposed by transnationals blocked it.

That’s the censorship that no one will tell you about.

Translated by Venezuelanalysis.com