Mérida, October 15, 2008 (venezuelanalysis.com)– On Wednesday, the Venezuelan government launched an investigation of newspaper editor Rafael Poleo after Poleo made televised declarations that sectors of the government considered to be a call to assassinate of President Hugo Chávez.
On the talk show "Aló, Ciudadano," which is known to be avidly opposed to the Chávez government, Poleo told the president, "Be careful, Hugo. Don't end up like your counterpart [Italian Fascist Dictator] Benito Mussolini, hung upside down," referring to the assassination of Mussolini by political opponents in 1945.
"Once again, they are calling for assassination from the studios of Globovisión," said Communication and Information Minister Andrés Izarra, referring to the private station that broadcasts the talk show.
Izarra said that from his position he has no authority to take legal action against Poleo, but he asked the national Directorate of Social Responsibility in Radio and Television to review the case Wednesday.
The Directorate investigates violations of the Law of Social Responsibility in Radio and Television, and includes a representative from the Ministry of Communications and Information.
The media commission in the Venezuealan National Assembly, headed by Deputy Israel Sotillo, filed a formal accusation in the Attorney General's office on Wednesday, saying that Poleo's words constitute an incitement to violence and civil disobedience, which is punishable by up to six months in prison.
Sotillo also said Poleo could be charged with inciting the destruction of the institutions of the government and civil war, which is punishable by prison terms of more than five years.
According to Julio Lattán, a national coordinator of the pro-government Bolivarian Lawyers Front, the television station Globovisión could be held partially responsible for the declarations as well.
The director of Globovisión, Alberto Ravell, told the press Wednesday that Poleo's comments are the responsibility of Poleo and the host of the talk show on which he was a guest, Leopoldo Castillo, but not the station.
Vice Minister of Communication Freddy Fernández pointed out that Poleo's declarations are only the latest in a long history of incitements to political violence by the private media.
"A group of businesses dedicated to communication have sustained a constant war against the popular government of Venezuela," said Fernández. "These propaganda devices reproduce systems of power in which many large businesses are invested."
During the coup against Chávez in April, 2002, the private media intentionally covered up crucial events and openly supported the coup plotters.
During a press conference of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, the president of the state-run television channel ViVe TV, Blanca Eekhout, said Poleo's comments are part of "the agenda of the empire" amidst a worldwide "crisis of capitalism."
"The media continue to be instruments of the empire of transnational corporations that not only plan to assassinate the president and rupture the constitution, but also plan to massacre our people in order to control our natural resources and impede Venezuela from being an example to the world of the construction of socialism," said Eekhout.
Tuesday afternoon, a group of people on motorcycles threw pepper and tear gas into the building where Poleo's newspaper, El Nuevo País, is produced.
El Nuevo País manager Graciela Requena told the press that the people who threw the bombs also threw pamphlets stating, "We do not accept this type of declarations, and because of the weakness of the bourgeois institutions, we respond to these aggressions in defense of our president… without any hesitation, we declare Rafael Poleo to be a military objective."
The pamphlets indicate that a pro-Chávez group known as "La Piedrita" is responsible for the attack.
Metropolitan firefighters quickly arrived at the scene, and shortly afterward an investigation team from the national Criminal, Scientific, and Penal Investigations Corps (CICPC) arrived, according to Requena.
Also, the Attorney General's office announced it would investigate the attack on the newspaper and try to find those responsible.