Christian Science Monitor
Economist Intelligence Unit
La Prensa (Panama)
National (Abu Dhabi)
New York Times
Radio France Internationale
Times of London
Contact (PGP Key)
Chávez’s TV wars|
Oct. 19, 2011 — Caracas, Venezuela
Published by Financial Times
In Venezuela’s perpetually politically charged climate, it is easy to find those willing to bash the government. This popular pastime of Venezuela’s chattering classes was given more ammunition to work with this week after an opposition television network was fined $2.1m and the Supreme Court ruled that a popular politician is able to run for president but not hold office if he wins.
Leopoldo López was banned in 2008 from public office on charges of corruption though was never tried. Last month, the Inter-American Court for Human Rights ruled in his favour, yet the country’s Supreme Court has defied the decision, insisting that he is free to run but not free to take any public office should he win.
López has remained defiant, though doing so may end up a Pyrrhic victory for the opposition. “I am a candidate,” López said. “I will run and I will win the primaries.” The decision to stand, however, is likely to split the vote within an already fragmented opposition – to Chávez’s ultimate benefit in next October’s presidential elections.
Many see the decision by the Supreme Court as one more example of the government’s clamp down on its enemies. The media has also suffered, especially since a failed 2002 coup attempt against Chávez. Major network RCTV, a vocal supporter of the coup at the time, saw its license revoked in 2007 and many stations have curbed their criticism of the president since.
The latest victim is Globovisión. The last staunchly anti-Chávez network free to air was fined $2.1m on Tuesday for its coverage of a fatal 27-day long prison riot in June. At the time, Chávez appeared weaker than usual as he went off the radar while undergoing treatment in Cuba for what turned out to be the cancer that has plagued his last few months.
That lack of face time on Venezuelan television was replaced by horrific images of inmates’ friends and family in anguish outside the jail. Many supporters became disillusioned with Chávez’s inability to control the worsening situation.
According to the government, Globovisión’s coverage “fomented anxiety” in Venezuela’s citizens as well as politically-rooted “hatred and intolerance”. Guillermo Zuloaga, president of the network, called the fine an “attack by a government that has only fear of freedom of expression”.
The hefty fine for Globovisión – 7.5 per cent of the channel’s gross revenue in 2010 – is thought by critics to be aimed at bankrupting the network. Zuloaga has been previously detained by military intelligence and had his home raided.
While the government claims that its moves are legitimate, the cases of Globovisión and López will only make it easier to criticise Chávez’s government during a campaign period when he is likely to retaliate with even more severity as he attempts to win over his core support, disillusioned with electricity outages, high inflation and the region’s highest crime rates.
Exclusive: At least 123 Venezuelan soldiers detained since protests - documents
Jul. 6, 2017
Venezuela hikes minimum wage 50 percent, effectively down 17 percent
Jul. 2, 2017
Venezuela movie actor behind helicopter attack on government buildings
Jun. 28, 2017
Fourteen Venezuelan army officers jailed in first week of protests - documents
Jun. 6, 2017
Exclusive: U.S. considers possible sanctions against Venezuela oil sector - officials
Jun. 4, 2017
Exclusive: Trump administration concerned about U.S. firms giving financial 'lifeline' to Venezuela
Jun. 4, 2017
United Airlines ends flights to Venezuela, further isolating country
Jun. 3, 2017
Venezuela sets new exchange mechanism, as currency continues to slide
May. 24, 2017
Exclusive: Venezuela holds 5,000 Russian surface-to-air MANPADS missiles
May. 22, 2017
Venezuelan opposition activists march to Leopoldo Lopez' jail
Apr. 28, 2017
Venezuela says inflation 274 percent last year, economists say far higher
Apr. 20, 2017
Venezuelan protests against government leave three dead
Apr. 19, 2017
Venezuelans return to streets, roused by ban on opposition leader
Apr. 8, 2017
Venezuelan opposition, security forces clash in anti-Maduro protests
Apr. 6, 2017
Venezuela security forces battle anti-Maduro protesters
Apr. 4, 2017