Basque regional government stands up for Hugo Chavez

Spain’s regional Basque Parliament June 22 voted down a motion submitted by the right-wing People’s Party (PP) advocating “freedom of expression” and “pluralism in news media in Venezuela,” following the refusal of the Hugo Chávez government to renew the broadcast license for RCTV. Instead the Parliament endorsed a resolution reasserting its “unequivocal stance to advocate freedom of opinion and expression,” without condemning Venezuela. (El Universal, Caracas, June 20, El Universal, June 20)

Former PP Spanish prime minister José María Aznar raised ire in Caracas days before the vote, when he praised Mexican President Felipe Calderón while criticizing Chávez and Cuba’s Fidel Castro. “Good ideas bring about Felipe Calderón, bad ideas bring about Hugo Chávez,” Aznar said in Mexico City while introducing his book Latin America: An Agenda of Freedom, during a dinner attended by conservative ruling party PAN leaders. The meeting was also attended by RCTV CEO Marcel Granier, who Aznar described as “a great fighter for freedom.”

The government of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and the center-left Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) also criticized the RCTV shut-down when pressed by the PP. Foreign Minister Miguel Ángel Moratinos asserted the Spanish government’s “concern” about the move in response to a question from a PP deputy. Chávez said the statement showed “disrespect” for his country. The Venezuelan leader said he was “taking distance” from Spain, even though “it hurts.” (El Universal, June 19)

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