Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Speaking of Valentine's Day....

Don't You Just Loooove Wannabe DicKtators!
Article submitted for your approval, in its entirety...

Court fines Venezuelan comedian Marquez
By CHRISTOPHER TOOTHAKER, Associated Press Writer

CARACAS, Venezuela - Comedian Laureano Marquez has poked fun at politicians
for decades without getting into trouble with the law, so he didn't think twice
about writing a tongue-in-cheek newspaper editorial based on a dialogue between
President Hugo Chavez and his 9-year-old daughter. But Marquez and a publishing
company that printed the column in the Tal Cual newspaper are now facing fines
imposed by a local court for "violating the honor, reputation and private life"
of Rosines Chavez Rodriguez, Chavez's youngest daughter.
Marquez — one of
Venezuela's leading humorists — denies any wrongdoing and argues the $18,600
fine imposed on the Mosca Analfabeta publisher is part of a government
initiative in which pro-Chavez prosecutors and judges are being used to silence
critics. Marquez must separately pay a fine of a yet-to-be-determined
"A desire to fill the media (and) comedians with fear is what's
behind this," Marquez told a news conference as Teodoro Petkoff, the director of
Tal Cual, held up the newspaper's Wednesday edition with a banner headline
reading: "They won't shut us up."
"We feel the need for this to be
everybody's battle, that's why we have asked for collaboration for the defense
of freedom of expression," said Petkoff, a former leftist guerrilla who has
become one of Chavez's most outspoken critics.
Chavez, a former paratrooper
who accuses Venezuela's privately-owned media of conspiring to topple his
government, denies restricting press freedoms.
Marquez insists he meant no
harm when he used 9-year-old Rosines as a medium for mocking her father's
decision in 2005 to remake Venezuela's coat of arms so that a white horse would
appear galloping left, not right — an evident metaphor for Chavez's
revolutionary politics.
During a broadcast of his radio and television show,
"Hello President," Chavez told listeners that Rosines said the horse looked
strange running to the right while craning its neck in the opposite
Within weeks, pro-Chavez lawmakers pushed through a reform
changing the coat of arms.
"He considered changing the coat-of-arms due to a
suggestion from his daughter," Marquez said. "I simply wrote her a letter asking
her to request another series of changes."
In the editorial, he suggested she
ask her father to trade the horse on the new coat of arms for a devoted house
pet, such as a Golden Retriever or tortoise — "a good symbol of our sluggishness
in everything."
"Also tell him not to talk about things beyond 2021," Marquez
wrote. "He shouldn't do it because those of us who don't agree with him (don't
worry, there are fewer of us every day, according to the official statistics)
get desperate, which isn't good."
Chavez has repeatedly said he wants to
continue governing Venezuela until 2021 or longer.
Representatives of the
National Council for the Protection of Children and Adolescents urged
prosecutors to file charges against Marquez and the publisher, Mosca Analfabeta,
justifying the measures as necessary to shield a child from politics-related
slander. The council did not ask that Marquez also be prosecuted on criminal
"They saw there was a violation of the girl's rights, so they took
measures," said Antonio Ramos, who heads the council in central Lara state,
where Rosines resides.
Press freedom watchdogs and rights groups have accused
Chavez of using the judiciary and new legislation restricting broadcast content
to silence critics. The Venezuelan leader also has faced sharp criticism from
the Organization of American States for his decision not to renew the broadcast
license of an opposition-aligned TV station — Radio Caracas
Chavez, who is divorced and has four children from two former
marriages, objected to Marquez's editorial but also acknowledged that he shared
some of the blame for bringing his 9-year-old daughter into the public
"I'm also to blame because I name her, but of course I name her
for other reasons," he said.

What's the matter, Poor Chavez got his feelings hurt!?
Can't take a little joke

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