Here in the United States, people of all political persuasions sometimes argue about whether the news media reports accurately and without bias. There is no similar controversy in Venezuela.
Venezuelans understand that the media outlets in their country report only what dictator Hugo Chavez orders. To defy him is to risk arrest and being put out of business.
Earlier this year Chavez ordered cable television stations to broadcast programming required by the government. Chavez's speeches were included in the mandate.
One cable television station, Radio Caracas Television International, refused to bow to the edict. Thereupon, Chavez in effect shut RCTI down by ordering television cable companies to stop using its signal. All of them complied.Chavez has been a vocal, vicious critic of the United States. He claims he opposes our government - but loves Americans. He has used his state-owned oil company in a propaganda campaign, including commercials aired on U.S. cable channels, to insist that he is helping low-income people in this country.
But it is obvious that Chavez is no more than a thug whose power stems from his brutal repression of political opponents. That fact should be reflected in U.S. diplomatic treatment of Chavez.