Write or Call to Demand a Fair Hearing – On June 16 the House Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere of the Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing entitled, “Press Freedom in the Americas.” Anti-Chavez Representatives Connie Mack (FL) and Eliot Engel (NY) have invited Venezuelan right-wing media mogul, RCTV owner Marcel Granier to testify.
We need to flood Congress, and the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee with calls, letters, and emails. You can use the draft letter below as a guide to write your own letter or email and/or for talking points for a phone call.
Please direct your message to Eliot Engel, who chairs the sub-committee AND to your own Member of Congress. If you representative is a member of the sub-committee, your call, letter, or email is especially important. The committee list can be found here.
Engel’s contact information:
Rep. Eliot Engel
2161 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone : (202) 225-2464
Fax: (202) 225-5513
Letters can be sent to any member of Congress at:
US House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
The House Switchboard number is 202-224-3121.
Dear Representative __________:
I am writing to you today as a voting citizen of the United States to express my deep concern about the lack of balance being demonstrated by the US Congress, and in particular by the House Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere. A hearing scheduled to be held on June 16th entitled, “Press Freedom in the Americas” demonstrates a disturbing lack of understanding and knowledge about Venezuela in particular. The reason for my concern is that Mr. Marcel Granier, President of RCTV, has been invited to testify. It is well-known that he was involved in the April 2002 unsuccessful coup against elected President Hugo Chavez, in which media owners and outlets sadly played a paramount role in denying the public truthful and balanced information.
To be specific, Mr. Granier not only personally supported the overthrow of the democratically elected government, but in the days preceding the coup, RCTV ran ads encouraging the public to take to the streets and overthrow the democratically elected president. Once Chavez was forcefully removed from office, the station continued to collude with the coup government by conducting a news blackout! In fact, one of the managing producers of Venezuela’s highest-rated newscast, the RCTV program El Observador, testified that he was instructed directly by Marcel Granier, on the day of the coup to show “No information on Chávez, his followers, his ministers, and all others that could in any way be related to him.”(1) This is publicly known and in fact, his participation as a media owner was not uncommon. For this very reason, this coup d’etat is referred to by academics in the US and Venezuela alike as the first media coup in our hemisphere.
To have Marcel Granier testify in our US Congress about press freedom, a right that he has denied openly to his own countrymen at a time of national crisis, is nothing less than absurd and downright shameful. I strongly urge you to reconsider his participation and instead invite an expert who has defended and upheld press freedoms in the hemisphere.
(1) “Venezuela’s Media Coup” by Naomi Klein, The Nation, February 13, 2003.