Those winds brought these tempests. The closure of media and aggression against journalists did not arise overnight. A sentence dictated by the Constitutional Chamber at the dawn of the Bolivarian Revolution, served to lay the foundations of what over the years would be known as “communicational hegemony”.
More than a failure, it was a bomb against freedom of expression. A citizen came on October 9, 2000 to the Supreme Court of Justice to request that he require the late President Hugo Chávez to grant him a right to reply, and the response he obtained on June 12, 2001 would end up forever marking the exercise of Freedom of expression in Venezuela.
The general coordinator of the Civil Association want to choose, Elías Santana, asked for the intervention of the TSJ after Chávez and the director of Radio Nacional de Venezuela, Teresa Maniglia, denied him the possibility of responding to the attacks he had suffered on 27 August 2000 during the transmission of the program “Hello Presidente”, led by the head of State himself.
The Constitutional Chamber, in the speech of Magistrate Jesús Eduardo Cabrera, not only rejected the request of this representative of civil society, but took the opportunity to degrade all Venezuelan journalists. According to Cabrera’s reasoning, as Santana was a journalist who had a column in a journal of national Circulation and a space on a radio station, “lacks the right to reply or any rectification, because what it thinks fit to answer the president can Do it, both in your column and in the newspaper where you have it (…) or in the radio program. ”
Later, the TSJ states that “the right to retort and rectification has neither the means nor the ones who habitually practise journalism in them, nor those who maintain in them columns or programs, nor those who through ‘remitted’ provoke a reaction in Against. This is a right granted to those who are affected by media information, and who lack public channels to answer or give their version of the news.”
From that moment on, the country’s communicators lost the possibility of exercising the right to reply, established in article 58 of the Magna Carta. Under this premise, the president is licensed to insult any journalist through all means at his disposal, and the affected cannot answer him on equal terms.
But the Constitution room was not limited to that point. “It is an attack on truthful and impartial information to have a majority number of columnists of a single ideological tendency, unless the medium in its publishers or by its spokesmen, maintains and identifies itself with a line of opinion congruent with that of the columnists and Collaborators, “the magistrates said, meddling in the editorial line of the media.
In this same sentence, the TSJ justifies the laws of contempt and of vilification and insult. “Freedom of expression, although not subject to prior censorship, must respect the rights of other persons, so their issuance generates further responsibilities for the issuer, in many cases shared with the broadcast vehicle, especially when It lends itself to a communication terrorism, which seeks to subject people or institutions to public contempt, he says.
The judges closed the circle by marking a difference between freedom of expression and freedom of information, denying the right to reply to anyone who feels harmed by opinions. “These rights to retort and rectification, can only be used by the person directly affected by the information (…) It is not the right to reply or rectify a right intended to refute opinions or to maintain a public rant.”
Created the gap between freedom of expression and information as an alibi, the Constitutional Chamber concluded that “the facts that are imputed to the President of the Republic to request the right to reply do not constitute inaccurate or offensive information that Endilguen the actors, but it’s about opinions.”
All this was said by the TSJ in 2001. The rest is history.
Statement of sentence
Consider the room that if Elías Santana or the Civil association want to choose they believe that they have been aggrieved by the President of the Republic, they can exert the actions that are coming, but that being a journalist with a fixed column in the newspaper The National , and a daily radio program (…) who asks for the right of reply in his own name and in that of the legal person of which he is spokesman and for whom he speaks, lacks the right to retort or rectification, because what it believes convenient to answer the president can do it , both in his column and in the newspaper where he has it, which is also a newspaper of national circulation, or in the radio program, without it can be done for these purposes a separation between his person and that of the Civil Association (…) by who also acts , since he is the spokesman (…) In cases like these, in which in the person of a columnist or journalist of a media, the representation of a legal person is mistaken in him, who also constantly declares in the newspapers by means of the journalist or columnist, situation that knows The room because it is notorious communication facts, there can be a dichotomy that grants a right of special reply or rectification for its representation. ”