Community Media: The Thriving Voice of the Venezuelan People
March 9th 2010, by Liz Migliorelli, Caitlin McNulty
In Venezuela today a grass-roots movement of community and alternative media is challenging the domination of commercial media. Community oriented non-proﬁt, non-commercial, citizen and volunteer run media outlets are a crucial part of the democratic transformation of society that is occurring throughout Venezuela. Part of this transformation is the understanding of freedom of speech as a positive and basic right. This right includes universal access to a meaningful space for communication in addition to freedom from censorship. Freedom of expression as a positive right provides universal access to the means of communication. Political analyst Diana Raby reiterates; “the technology of modern communications has to be made accessible to all, not merely as consumers but as participants and creators.”(1) Community media is beginning to ﬁll this role in Venezuela.
The 1999 Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela was written and ratiﬁed by the people themselves, setting a societal precedent of democratic participation. The constitution contains articles that grant new rights to Venezuelans such as indigenous rights, access to education, healthcare, housing, employment, political participation and many others that make the Venezuelan Constitution one of the most progressive in the world in the area of human rights. Article 58 speciﬁcally states, “Communication is free and plural and must adhere to the obligations and responsibilities under the law. Every person has the right to objective, true and impartial information, without censorship….” Article 108 of the Constitution ensures that all communication media, public and private, must contribute to the social development of citizens. The same article guarantees public access to radio, television, library networks and information networks in order to permit universal access to information.