Venezuela News Summary #85

Venezuelan Opposition Deny Honduran Coup | Venezuela Proposes United Nations Military Action if Diplomacy Fails in Honduras Coup | Gay Pride March in Caracas, Venezuela | Venezuelan Media Workers March, New National Paper Announced | Governor and Land Reform Activists Create Farmer Rights Council in Portuguesa, Venezuela | Venezuelan and the United States Re-Establish Relations and Ambassadors

I. Venezuelan Opposition Deny Honduran Coup

Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was kidnapped last Sunday and forced him out of the country. Zelaya’s government was shut down, and Roberto Micheletti swore himself in as de facto president the same day. Protests in response have been brutally repressed. The United Nations, the Organization of American States and the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas, or ALBA, all unanimously condemned the coup, and called for Zelaya’s reinstatement as president of the Central American country. Meanwhile, the Venezuelan opposition media has adopted a mixed approach towards the Honduran coup: justifying it, defending de facto president Micheletti, and criticizing President Hugo Chavez’s involvement in trying to rectify it. The media has also portrayed the situation in Honduras as peaceful and has ignored the military repression. The Venezuelan daily, El Nacional, portrayed the events and kidnapping of President Zelaya as “legal”. CNN en Español, split its screen while Zelaya was delivering his speech to the UN, and on the other larger half, showed Honduran protests in support the coup. CNN did not, however, broadcast the multiple anti-coup protests and repression occurring in the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa. Zelaya plans to defy the coup and return to Honduras on Saturday along with a delegation of Latin American leaders, including the presidents of Argentina and Ecuador. The coup leaders have vowed to arrest Zelaya upon his return. http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/4576

II. Venezuela Proposes United Nations Military Action if Diplomacy Fails in Honduras Coup

This Tuesday, Chavez urged the Honduran armed forces to oppose the coup. He also proposed multinational military, economic, and legal measures to restore Honduran President Manuel Zelaya to the presidency. He said that nations who oppose the coup should be prepared to back up their words with actions, and force the coup leaders to turn power over to the legitimate president, Zelaya. Chavez also said he will propose cutting off oil supplies to Honduras during an emergency meeting of the Caribbean energy integration group, Petrocaribe. Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua, have already cut off cross-border trade with Honduras. Also, the European Union suspended talks of an association with Central American nations due to the coup. And member countries of the ALBA bloc have pulled their ambassadors from Honduras. Meanwhile, coup leaders have violently shut down or taken over most media outlets by breaking down doors, trashing broadcast equipment, and detaining. Military personnel detained several reporters from the television channel, Telesur. The Caracas-based station had provided detailed coverage of the coup early on. According to Honduras-based Telesur correspondent, Edgardo Castro, “The coup government mandated the owners of cable companies to cut off Telesur’s signal and only permit international signals that support the coup government.” The remaining independent media in Honduras have released video recordings of thousands of anti-coup protestors singing songs, chanting for Zelaya’s return, and blocking off streets by burning tires and throwing rocks at security forces. Military and riot police have reportedly used rubber bullets, tear gas, and other unidentified chemicals to break up the protests outside the presidential palace, causing at least one death and many injuries. The coup government has continued to arrest pro-Zelaya government officials. The United States government tentatively acknowledged that an “illegal” coup occurred in Honduras, but has not called for Zelaya’s reinstatement. On Wednesday, the U.S. embassy in Honduras cut off travel and business visas for those involved in the coup. One of the coup leaders, General Romeo Vásquez, was trained at the School of the Americas in Ft. Benning, Georgia. http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/4575

* Links for more articles on the Honduran Coup d’etat below

III. Gay Pride March in Caracas, Venezuela

Thousands of Individuals of every sexual orientation and gender identity arrived from across Venezuela, and marched last Sunday in Caracas to promote respect for sexual diversity. The activity was part of the celebrations for the LGBT Pride month that are being carried out in June and July in various countries. This was Venezuela’s ninth consecutive LGBT pride parade. http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/4568

IV. Venezuelan Media Workers March, New National Paper Announced

Last Saturday, to mark the Day of the Journalist, media workers both for and against the Venezuelan government participated in separate marches in Caracas. Thousands of journalists and government supporters marched against media terrorism. Speakers and participants spoke of the need for a new participatory model of communication. The marchers delivered a document to the Attorney General’s office, which denounced destabilization attempts by the private Venezuelan media. Meanwhile, a smaller opposition march demanded freedom of expression. The march was broadcast live across the country and was convoked by the opposition, National Journalism College. 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. 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 struggle for independence and combat the misinformation of the Spanish-run paper, La Gaceta de Caracas. In celebration of the anniversary, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez announced that the Orinoco Post will once again start circulating as a national daily paper. The exact launch date is still unknown but Chavez said a team is working on the project. http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/4561

V. Governor and Land Reform Activists Create Farmer Rights Council in Portuguesa, Venezuela

The governor of Venezuela’s Portuguesa state, Wilmer Castro, along with the leaders of four national campesino movements created a State Farmers’ Council last week. They hope the new council will help to defend small and landless farmers against attacks by large estate owners who oppose the government’s land reform measures. The council will open the space for local campesino councils to organize and set their agenda within the state government. Since President Hugo Chávez passed the 2001 land reform law, over 200 campesino leaders have been killed at the hands of hired assassins. The 2001 Land Law permitted the government to forcibly purchase idle or under-used private land for redistribution. In March, two land reform organizers were shot to death, sparking protests demanding that the national government increase efforts to prosecute those responsible for these crimes. The protests lead regional campesino movements to form a national united front. This was instrumental in the formation of the Portuguesa State Farmers’ Council last week. http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/4551

VI. Venezuelan and the United States Re-Establish Relations and Ambassadors

Last week, Venezuela and the United States re-established official relations. The Venezuelan ambassador to the United States, Bernardo Alvarez, will re-take his position in Washington, and the US ambassador to Venezuela, Patrick Duddy, will return to Venezuela. Last September, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez expelled the US ambassador in Venezuela in a gesture of solidarity with Bolivia. The Andean nation had expelled its US ambassador in response to evidence that the ambassador had met with separatist opposition groups. The US responded by removing its ambassador from Venezuela. Alvarez called the re-establishment of relations between the two countries a “historic decision” and said that it shows a change in the United States. Alvarez is also president of the newly named Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas, or ALBA. It is yet unclear who will take on that position. http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/4549

* Links to Additional Articles on Honduras:

Telesur Reporters Beaten in Honduras

Venezuela: Chavez Calls for Continent-Wide Protests against Honduran Coup

Venezuelan Foreign Minister: Latin America has to Guarantee the Defeat of the Coup in Honduras

Venezuelan, Cuban, and Nicaraguan Ambassadors to Honduras Kidnapped

North American Imperialism and the Extreme Right are Behind Coup in Honduras: Chavez

Venezuela, ALBA, and OAS Back Honduran President Against Potential Coup

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