Monday, January 25, 2010

Hugo Chavez's version of the Fairness Doctrine?

Hugo Chavez has once again tried to silence opposition cable TV channel RCTV:

Police fired tear gas and plastic bullets at thousands of university students on Monday, breaking up a protest after President Hugo Chavez's government forced an opposition cable TV channel off the air.

Demonstrations broke out after cable companies, under orders from the telecommunications agency, dropped the anti-Chavez channel Radio Caracas Television Internacional early Sunday. RCTV had defied new rules requiring cable channels to carry mandatory programming, including some of Chavez's speeches.

Authorities fired tear gas as protesting students tried to approach the headquarters of the state telecommunications agency, where several hundred Chavez backers had gathered to support the government's action. Some were seen throwing rocks and bottles at anti-Chavez protesters.

At least five students suffered asphyxiation or minor injuries, said Enrique Montbrun, director of health services in the capital's Baruta district. A journalist also suffered minor injuries.

"Freedom of expression is a right that we all embrace, and it must be defended," said Alejandro Perdomo, 19, who accused Chavez of attempting to silence his critics.

Students in the crowd chanted: "It will return, Radio Caracas will return!"

The government says RCTV violated recently approved regulations that require two dozen local cable and satellite channels to televise Chavez's speeches whenever he deems it necessary.

The channel, which has been fiercely critical of Chavez for years, did not transmit the president's speech Saturday to a rally of supporters.
When I last checked the RCTV website was still up.  If any of my readers are fluent in Spanish, it would be interesting to know what is being reported there.

Today Venezuelan Vice-President Ramon Carrizalez, who also holds the title of Defence Minister resigned both positions. His wife, and Environment Minister, Yubiri Ortega also resigned.  His resignation over differences with Chavez had been rumored since Saturday, but he denied those rumors and said that the reasons for his resignation were personal.

I guess Chavez thinks he can stanch his horrible press and quell unrest in his country by silencing the Venezuelan media.  These resignations will leave a hole in his cabinet that will make that more and more difficult.

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