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Americas

RFI responds after attack by Hugo Chavez

media Hugo Chavez during the press conference at Miraflores Palace in Caracas, … (Photo: Reuters)

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has accused RFI's Caracas correspondent of lying and trying to destabilise his regime during a press conference broadcast live on national television. RFI's management responded on Tuesday by inviting Chavez to be interviewed by one of its journalists.

Chavez's outburst came after a question from RFI Spanish service's correspondent Andreína Flores during a press conference on Monday about his party's slim victory in legislative elections.

“Mr President, you have talked about 5.4 million votes for your PSUV [United Socialist Party of Venezuela] party, against 5.3 million for the opposition. The difference between the two figures is less than 100,000 votes," said Flores.

"It is difficult to understand, particularly for those who listen to us in other countries, how the opposition obtained nearly the same number of votes as the PSUV, yet obtained 37 seats less. I ask myself if that confirms the opposition's theory that the process was put together to favour the PSUV, or perhaps, which would be worse, if a vote from the PSUV was worth two [for Chavez's party]," she added.

After a few moments of hesitation the socialist leader responded angrily.

“Have you read the constitution? Have you have listened to what I said? No, I see that you haven’t taken any notes," said Chavez.

"RFI has lied for several days, I have demanded a retraction, but you have ignored it. Don’t participate in manipulation. You present the opposition’s theories and repeat them to fool people. Your question has one aim – to destabilise the regime. I say that your method of working is … ridiculous.”

RFI's management has sent a response to Chavez, which reads as follows…

"Mr President,

During a press conference with the international media on Monday 27 September 2010, our correspondent in Caracas, Andreina Flores, asked a question on the difference between the number of votes and the number of seats obtained by the opposition in the Venezuelan elections.

You responded by attacking our correspondent, who has worked at RFI for several years. She has done a number of reports on Venezuela and other countries in Latin America. RFI is satisfied with her professionalism and integrity.

RFI believes in the strict respect attached to journalistic standards and Mrs Flores, in formulating her question, did not divert from these rules. She still has the complete confidence of the management.

At the same time you questioned the accuracy of the quality of information broadcast by RFI, and spoke of lies. You also said that you had asked for explanations from RFI in the past without obtaining any response.

We would like to tell you that not one request from you has reached RFI. We remind you that RFI is an international radio station based in Paris, which can be heard outside of France.  It is a public organisation governed by rules which apply to all our programmes and indeed all of our correspondents around the world.

Our news concerning Venezuela was designed for the international public. If you wish Mr President, RFI would like to invite you for an interview to explain your position."

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