Caracas, June 23, 2007 (venezuelanalysis.com)— Venezuela’s Minister of Communication and Information, William Lara, condemned the a decision to increase funding for Voice of America, so it would boost its broadcasts into Venezuela.
Thursday, upon the urging of Florida Republican Congressman Connie Mack, the House passed an amendment that urges the Broadcast Board of Governors, which is responsible for Voice of America Radio, to allot $10 million for broadcasts to Venezuela.
The amendment, which Connie Mack proposed in a subcommittee that oversees funding for the U.S. State Department, passed in a voice vote. Since the Democratic chair of that committee supported the measure, it is expected that it will pass when the whole funding bill is put to a vote in the full House of Representatives.
Mack said the measure was necessary because, “’Freedom of the press died in Venezuela on May 27, 2007, when Chávez shut down Radio Caracas Television.” Mack was referring to the Venezuelan government’s decision not to renew RCTV’s broadcast license because of its past broadcast violations and because the government wanted a good frequency for a new public service television channel.
Mack framed the funding proposal as a matter of national security, saying, “We must recognize the War on Terrorism is in our backyard. The gang of countries lining up with Chavez is powerful: Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and others together with the likes of Iran. We must recognize the serious threat to our national security.”
Communications Minister Lara reacted strongly to the Mack amendment, saying that it represents an “escalation in the media campaign that the Republican administration is developing against the Venezuelan president.”
According to Lara, the non-renewal of RCTV’s broadcast license and the launch of the new public service channel TVes represent an increase in freedom of speech and of thought. “The truth will triumph and will continue to win this battle. The imperial lie against Venezuela will be defeated again,” said Lara.