September 20, 2007
Some Miami Venezuelans are planning to demonstrate in front of the Biltmore Hotel on Friday morning, hours before media giant Gustavo Cisneros is scheduled to address The Miami Herald Americas Conference.
Two separate groups will be rallying, one in favor of freedom of expression and the other against the Venezuelan magnate.
The topic of Cisnero's address -- Freedom of the press, democracy and competitiveness -- has infuriated some Venezuelans living in South Florida who accuse his media companies of having buckled under pressure by President Hugo Chávez. Cisneros has denied the charge.
''We consider that Mr. Cisneros...has no moral authority to talk about freedom of expression. It's outrageous because several times he has surrendered to...[Chávez's] policy of suppressing freedom of information,'' the group, Venezuela Somos Todos, said in a statement.
Another group, the Movimiento Pro Libertad de Espresión, is also planning to demonstrate in front of the hotel, with a focus on free speech, its leader said.
''We are coming to demonstrate publicly in favor of freedom of expression and in defense of all private Venezuelan communication media, which need to remain open to fight for Venezuela's democracy, be it Globovisión or Venevisión,'' said Marcos Núñez, an activist with the group.
Some Chávez opponents have accused Cisneros, owner of Venevisión -- the largest private television network in Venezuela -- of making a deal with the leftist populist leader to protect his investments. One major Venezuelan television network, RCTV, was shut down earlier this year, after the government refused to renew its broadcasting license, claiming various improprieties.
''We will peacefully raise our voice to protest businessmen like Gustavo Cisneros, who think that by accepting arbitrary decisions and supporting barbarous acts they can save their fortunes, even at the expense of the life and suffering of others,'' the statement added.