December 29, 2006

Chavez To Shut Down Independent Television

Even after winning his re-election bid in Venezuela, Hugo Chavez wants to eliminate any hint of dissent. He has ordered an end to the broadcast license of Radio Caracas TV, which opposed him and supported a 2003 strike in protest of his regime:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has said he will not renew the licence for the country's second largest TV channel which he said expired in March 2007.

In an address to troops, Mr Chavez said he would not tolerate media outlets working toward a coup against him.

Radio Caracas Television, which is aligned with the opposition, supported a strike against Mr Chavez in 2003.

RCTV also came out in support of the coup that briefly removed Chavez from power, a coup for which Chavez blames the US. The two editorial positions as well as consistent criticism of his regime has long irked the Castro acolyte, and he has started down a path that will bring him closer to the governing philosophy of his mentor. Venezuela already has issues with freedom of the press, but this is his biggest move against independent journalists thus far. Before this, he has contented himself with forcing reporters to register with the government and passing onerous laws against ostensibly irresponsible reporting.

Chavez enjoys some fairly uncritical press here in the United States. His efforts to give heating oil away garnered friendly headlines, and his unhinged rant at the UN got a lot of attention in the press, most of it approving or neutral, of the comparison between George Bush and the devil. One wonders whether Chavez' assault on free speech will generate any effort at all by the American media to start taking a far more critical look at Chavez and his accelerating efforts to transform Venezuela into Little Cuba.

Hint: that's not a good thing. Perhaps some in the media still don't realize that.


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