Venezuelan Media Workers March, New National Paper Announced

On
Saturday, to mark the Day of the Journalist, media workers both for and against
the Venezuelan government marched in separate marches in Caracas. President
Hugo Chavez also announced the creation of a new national paper.
By Tamara Pearson – Venezuelanalysis.com

Journalist_Day_CCS_march_jun28_09_ABN.jpg

Marchers celebrate Day of the Journalist in Caracas (ABN)
Marchers celebrate Day of the Journalist in Caracas (ABN)
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Mérida, June 29th 2009 (Venezuelanalysis.com) - On
Saturday, to mark the Day of the Journalist, media workers both for and against
the Venezuelan government marched in separate marches in Caracas. President
Hugo Chavez also announced the creation of a new national paper.

For over 40 years Venezuelans have celebrated the Day
of the Journalist on June 27th. On that day in 1818, the
Orinoco Post first went to print to report on the political and military
achievements in the struggle for independence and combat the misinformation of
the Spanish Crown-run paper, La Gaceta de Caracas. In 1964, Garcia Ponce, a
parliamentarian for the Communist Party, proposed from jail (where he was being
accused of military rebellion) that the Day of the Journalist be celebrated on
that day. 

In Caracas on Saturday, in a march called by the
National Council of Communicators, thousands of journalists and government supporters
marched against media terrorism. Many speakers and participants also spoke of
the need for a new participatory model of communication.

After marching for hours through the center of the
capital, marchers handed in a document to the Public Prosecutor's office. The
document denounced the attempts by private media in Venezuela to destabilize
the country.

Speaking outside the office, journalist Maria Matute
likened Venezuela's private media magnates to large estate owners, saying they
have over 80% of the radio spectrum, thanks to concessions granted to them by
the Venezuelan government. She spoke against the "impunity of communication companies"
and for a democratization of the media which can "only be achieved through
consciousness, organization, and action by the Venezuelan people."

The march also went to the Ministry of Communications
and Information, where marchers expressed the need to strengthen and promote
alternative and community based media.

The minister for communications and information, Blanca
Eekhout said, "The international [media] campaigns against our revolution have
been going for 10 years. We are the alternative during a time of capitalist
crisis... when that model is falling apart we are obliged to make socialism
visible."

"New communication is necessary. It's essential to
take communication away from the big transnationals and distribute it amongst
the peoples of the world," Eekhout said.

Meanwhile,
a smaller opposition march, broadcast live nationally, demanded freedom of
expression. The march was called by the National Journalism
College, an opposition
media association. Some marchers wore red gags around their mouths.

Speaking
to the press, the governor of the Zulia state, Pablo Perez, the mayor of
Chacao, Emilio Grateron, and the opposition legislator Ismael Garcia, all accused
the Venezuelan government of violating the right to freedom of expression.

Venezuelan
private media also reported that "more than 30 cities internationally protested
against ‘gagging'". Organizers reported that they called the protest via the
internet, and that in Miami, over 60 people protested in front of the
Venezuelan consulate there. Speakers spoke against the "possible closure of
[opposition TV station] Globovision."

New National Paper

Venezuelan
president Hugo Chavez, during a ceremony to award journalism prizes, announced
that the Orinoco Post will start circulating again as a national daily paper,
"with a commitment to not deceive the readers, to create consciousness... and
values."

The
exact date when the first issue will come out isn't known yet, but Chavez said
a team is working on the project.

The
week preceding the Day of the Journalist was the government-proclaimed Week of
Artillery of Thought. There were daily forums across the country, TV programs
around the theme, an international conference in Caracas of journalists, and
various other workshops, activities, and film screenings organized by local
groups and by the Ministry for Culture and the Ministry for Communication and Information.
The Ministry for Culture also handed out copies of the first edition of the
Orinoco Post in major plazas around the country.

Journalist
Jose Rangel said the massive participation in the march on Saturday showed that
communication had passed from being controlled by elites to being "of the
people."

"The
new type of communication was born here to remove the oligarchy from power and
this is the legacy that we have to depend on in this singular moment in
history," he said.