February 5, 2009

Too Hot for TV: The Ads CNE Won't Let You Watch

Quico says: How level is the electoral playing field in Venezuela these days? So level that the chavista-run National Elections Council actually gets to pick-and-choose which TV ads can be shown on behalf of the "No" campaign, at what times, and on which channels.

Right now, a go-slow operation at CNE is effectively keeping these four ads off the air:

1.This spot starts with a famous quote by Simón Bolívar, from his 1819 speech to the Angostura Congress: "Nothing is so dangerous as allowing a single citizen to remain in power for a long time. The people get used to obeying him, and he gets used to commanding them, whence come usurpation and tyranny." Announcer: "Whether another Venezuelan enters this hall is up to you." CNE is, in effect, censoring Simón Bolívar!

2. This second spot is built around a series of quotes by Chávez's left wing allies in South America speaking out against abolishing term limits.

3. Announcer: "It's out in the open: this is about presidency for life. Don't count me in for more of the same."

4.Man with a heavy Cuban accent: "Some fifty years ago, we all felt it was for the best. They hold elections every five years, but nothing changes. The government doesn't solve the country's problems. We're stuck in time. The worst part is that, right now, even if we wanted to, we feel that there is no way to change." Announcer: "In Venezuela, we still have time: it's up to you."

CNE denies that its new regulations, which bar the campaigns from buying their own Ad-time directly from TV channels and forces them to go through the CNE instead, amount to prior restraint. But with just days to go before the vote, unexplained delays amount to censorship, puro y duro.