To Free Press Founder Robert McChesney – Maybe You Picked the Wrong Hero in Hugo Chavez?

by Mike Wendy on May 19, 2011

Yesterday, the U.S. gave political asylum to Eligio Cedeño, a Venezuelan banker and opponent of Venezuela’s thug leader, Hugo Chavez.  Once reportedly connected to Chavez, Cedeño had been imprisoned 34 months without trial for violating “currency regulations.”

In 2009, a Venezuelan judge released Cedeño, citing a UN opinion that called the imprisonment arbitrary and unlawful. Cedeño went into hiding in Florida.  The judge probably wishes she did, too, now being under house arrest by Chavez on corruption charges linked to Cedeño’s release.  She could get 30 years in jail.

According to the Wall Street Journal today:

“The decision is objective proof that Eligio Cedeño was a political prisoner,” said Victor Cerda, his immigration attorney. “Contrary to President Chavez’s assertions, he is not a criminal.”

The article went on to finish:

“[Cedeño’s] case shows there is no justice system left in Venezuela under Chavez,” said Robert Amsterdam, a London-based lawyer who was on a legal team that tried to secure Mr. Cedeño’s release.

Not to long ago, self-admitted socialist and Free Press Founder, Robert McChesney, lionized Chavez.  As this blog noted last year:

McChesney imagines the Venezuelan strongman to be something of a misunderstood genius when it comes to how to run a “free press.” “Aggressive unqualified political dissent is alive and well in the Venezuelan mainstream media, in a manner few other democratic nations have ever known, including our own,” McChesney has written.

I guess the guy’s alright, eh?

Nada.  Wall Street Journal’s Mary Anastasia O’Grady, who covers Latin America for the paper, thinks otherwise:

“[Chavez] is capable of depriving his opponents of property rights, due process and free speech, and with this power he has effectively starved and gagged most dissent.  Some of his adversaries are in prison; many have been disqualified from running for office.”

Cedeño would agree.  So, apparently, does the U.S.

So would Guillermo Zuloaga, who fled Venezuela last year to escape arrest by Chavez. You see, in speaking truthfully about the Chavez regime, and as the owner of Globovision, one of the remaining privately held Venezuelan television stations, he became a thorn in Chavez’s side. “How is it possible that he can accuse me of such things and walk free?” Chavez has asked publicly about Zuloaga.

But what about Robert McChesney and his comrades at the radical Free Press for that matter – what do they think of Chavez now?

If the past is any indication, they’ll likely remain silent.  Such admission would conflict with their messaging for a “post corporate,” state controlled media world (a la Chavez?) for America.

They might reconsider, though.

Some in the tech community believe the wheels are coming off at Free Press; that they’ve become pariahs.  Its bite-the-hand-that-feeds-it language and tactics – especially in the run-up to last December’s Net Neutrality vote at the FCC – has soured many in the community, including the once complicit press, as well as traditional allies.

As evidence, just look at the most recent NoTakeOver Project – a corporate-funded campaign to derail the AT&T / T-Mobile merger.  Many of the usual public interest group (PIG) suspects / radicals participate in the campaign.  Many, that is, except for Free Press, even though it holds almost the exact same position as their PIG counterparts.

Were they uninvited by accident?  Probably not.

My surmise is that they’re just too radical for even the radicals.  And I’m fine with that.  It means effectively one less anti-private property group policymakers and the press have to deal with when techpolicy gets debated here in Washington and in the states.

I guess this makes me oddly thankful that Robert McChesney and company have picked the wrong hero in Chavez.

Thanks, guys.



txpatriot May 19, 2011 at 4:56 pm

I wonder what McChesney has to say about anti-gov’t media in the “Arab Spring” uprisings? Or anti-gov’t use of social media by citizens opposed to repressive regimes?

But of course I forget: it’s not “politically correct” to label a socialist regime as “oppresive”.

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