29 May 2007

Venuzuela's Downward Spiral

On Sunday Hugo Chavez continued his crackdown on those who oppose his rule. He refused to renew the license of Radio Caracas "accusing it of "subversive" activities and of backing a 2002 coup against him." Radio Caracas TV was the only opposition channel with nationwide reach, having been founded in 1953.

More on the protests that are now entering their 5th day can be found in this AFP story. Some telling excerpts:

On Monday several people were injured as police in Caracas fired rubber bullets and tear gas to put down a demonstration against the RCTV shutdown, following the fifth straight day of protests.
A policeman's leg was broken in the fracas, a police official said.
RCTV was replaced by TVes, a state-backed "socialist" station which opened with cultural shows. Chavez supporters held a huge, night-to-dawn public party outside the network studios to celebrate the birth of the new "socialist television" and the end of the bitterly anti-Chavez media outlet.
TVes president Lil Rodriguez said the move reflected "our sovereignty."
The government will now control two of the four nationwide broadcasters in Venezuela, one of them state-owned VTV.
In an interview with VTV, Interior Minister Pedro Carreno accused the opposition of mounting a plot against the government, devised by "the empire," a term often used to describe the United States.
He also accused demonstrators of trying "to develop a plan for violence in the country," and added: "The government also has its plan. And it is working."
However, the RCTV closure brought sweeping denunciations from inside Venezuela and out.
One of the country's leading dailies, El Nacional, denounced it as "end of pluralism in Venezuela," and slammed the government's growing "information monopoly."
The archbishop of the city of Merida, Baltasar Porras Cardoso, compared Chavez to Hitler, Mussolini and Cuban leader Fidel Castro
-- who is a close friend of the left-wing Venezuelan president.
"This is the first time in eight years (of Chavez as president) that the university students hold a massive protest," said Leopoldo Lopez, an opposition leader and neighborhood mayor.
The EU's German presidency said it worried Venezuela let the network's broadcast license expire "without holding an open competition" for a successor station.

Sounds like a real paradise. For a very personal take on the events in Venezuela (though not this recent protest) visit this blog, The End of Venezuela as I know it.

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