Caracas-based Radio del Sur, founded in 2009, modeled after the Latin-American television channel TeleSUR (Logo), suffered a shake up recently after Venezuela’s Minister of Communication and Information replaced the station’s president in what workers there described as a reprisal for having aired “the exercise of self-criticism” in the aftermath of Venezuela’s controversial deportation to Colombia of alternative media activist Joaquin Pérez Becerra.
According to a statement released by the Workers’ Collective of Radio del Sur, Venezuela’s Minister of Communication and Information, Andrés Izarra, phoned station president Cristina González on Monday to inform her of her removal. González, a member of Venezuela’s Movement for a Necessary Journalism, professor of social communication at the Central University of Venezuela (UCV), and Radio del Sur’s president since May 2010, was replaced by Desireé Santos Amaral – a journalist and former lawmaker (2006-2010) of Venezuela’ United Socialist Party (PSUV).
In their ‘open letter’ regarding the shake up at Radio del Sur, the station’s Workers’ Collective rejected González’s removal; calling it “a decision not just against [her], but against the project of alternative communication” underway at the station since its 2009 launch.
The workers went on to invite newly-appointed station president Santos Amaral to “continue the participatory process of managing and operating the station,” closing their statement with a quote from Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez (“self-criticism is the permanent source of the strength needed to reinvigorate”) – an obvious reference to the reprisal against González for using Radio del Sur to disseminate leftist’s criticisms of the Becerra deportation.
Last Thursday, Caracas-based daily Ciudad CCS, published an opinion piece by independent Venezuelan media activist Reinaldo Iturriza López in which he commended Radio del Sur for being the “honorable exception” in the “public media blackout” that followed Becerra’s deportation. In it, López’s described the contradictory nature of many publicly-controlled media outlets in which, he argued, “the people are provided a space to utilize their voice; but then are forced to follow an ‘official’ line.”
López also referred readers to a 3 December 2010 speech by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in which Chávez insisted on the public media being a space for “the people to make their denunciations.”
“We can not allow the people’s denunciations to lie solely in the hands of the bourgeoisie and their [television/radio] channels,” said Chávez in the speech. “The people should protest [vía public media]…they should question us in front of the entire country…And here we are, to be questioned, to show our faces,” he insisted.
Argentina-based Resumen Latinoamericano referred to González’s firing as “another injustice” resulting from the Becerra Case and went on to “repudiate the disastrous method of attacking those who give themselves entirely to the Revolution, while at the same time promoting the corrupt and go-getter ‘yes-men’.”