Venezuelan Ambassador to the U.S. Dismisses Congressional Hearing on Freedom of Press

The ambassador of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the White House, Bernardo Álvarez, called a congressional hearing held today on freedom of the press in the Americas “a sad spectacle.” The hearing took place in the House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere.

Venezuelan Ambassador to the U.S. Bernardo Alvarez (Embassy)

The hearing was dominated by House Republicans that have made attacks on Venezuela a sort of modus vivendi of their political action in that country, said Ambassador Álvarez.

“Does freedom of the press only extend to the current monopolies that own media outlets, or does it more broadly encompass the rights of all citizens to diverse sources of information? And should freedom of the press be an instrument for owners of media outlets to actively conspire against democratically elected governments?” asked Ambassador Álvarez.

At the beginning of the hearing, the chairman of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere of the House of Representatives, Eliot Engel, expressed dismay at the recent arrest warrant issued by the Venezuelan judiciary against Guillermo Zuloaga, now a fugitive from Venezuelan justice, after days earlier the State Department spokesman, Philip Crowley, in a hasty statement, expressed concern about this arrest warrant.

The ambassador said, in response, that the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry issued a statement rejecting “the interventionist statements of the Government of the United States, and reaffirms its respect for the decisions of the Venezuelan judiciary and the institutions of Venezuela’s participatory and Bolivarian democracy.”

With regard to the statements made at the hearing by the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of the Press of the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, Catalina Botero, in which she mentioned that Venezuela is reaching intolerable limits in terms of freedom of expression, Ambassador Álvarez stated: “Intolerable is that Special Rapporteur Botero visited the United States Congress, in a sort of  “accountability visit” of the actions of an agency under the umbrella of the OAS.”

“In Venezuela, freedom of the press, of expression and of information are consecrated in the Constitution of 1999 and in the country’s Laws,” added the Ambassador.

Statement Released by the Press and Communications Office of the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the U.S. on June 16, 2010