Radio Caracas-free Caracas

JUAN BARRETO/AFP Thousands of Venezuelans staged a rally in Caracas in Saturday to protest against the closure of Radio Caracas Television. The demonstrators braved heavy security (and a counter rally staged by Chavez supporters) to object to President Hugo Chavez’s decision not to renew the broadcasting license of Venezuela’s oldest TV station, which expires on May 28. Chavez ...

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602379_070423_caracas_05.jpg

JUAN BARRETO/AFP

JUAN BARRETO/AFP

Thousands of Venezuelans staged a rally in Caracas in Saturday to protest against the closure of Radio Caracas Television. The demonstrators braved heavy security (and a counter rally staged by Chavez supporters) to object to President Hugo Chavez’s decision not to renew the broadcasting license of Venezuela’s oldest TV station, which expires on May 28. Chavez announced the decision in December, describing the station as “against the people, against the nation, against the dignity of the Republic.” He was referring to the channel’s decision to ignore the street protests that ended the abortive 2002 coup against Chavez, and to broadcast movies and cartoons instead. Critics of Chavez say he wants to gag the voice of the opposition, and send a warning to other media.

For Chavez to punish anyone for their “coupism” (as he calls it) is laughable. He himself first came to public attention as the leader of the disastrous 1992 coup against President Perez. Chavez was treated well then; he spent a few years in prison, and by 1998 was back on the streets exercising his democratic right to run for president. But having benefited from such rights, Chavez won’t hesitate to do away with them now. Protests or no, he will scrap Radio Caracas Television, and make sure that anyone with access to the airwaves is singing a Chavista tune.

This protest demonstrated Chavez doesn’t have full support of the Venezuelan people. His decision regarding Radio Caracas Television will show just how little he cares.

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