Venezuela’s dictatorship trying to shut down one of the country’s last independent newspapers

Information is like kryptonite to a communist tyranny. Socialist regimes can only survive if they starve the people of not only food, but information as well. Cuba’s Castro dictatorship knows this well and is an expert at keeping millions of people both hungry and in the dark.

The people in Venezuela are already lacking food, and in order for the Cuban regime’s puppet dictatorship there to survive, they must starve them of information as well.

By and Anthony Faiola in The Washington Post:

As it slides toward authoritarianism, Venezuela targets one of its last independent newspapers

By running stories of official brutality and corruption, this nation’s largest independent newspaper — El Nacional — threatened Venezuela’s mighty and defended its meek. Now the paper has found itself covering perhaps its most crucial story.

Its own fight to stay alive.

A judicial case against the 75-year-old outlet — lodged by one of President Nicolás Maduro’s top lieutenants — coupled with the blocking of its website is threatening the paper’s future. At a time when traditional media is under fire from autocrats around the globe, the intensifying effort against El Nacional illustrates how some governments are going to new lengths to silence dissent.

In Venezuela, the pressure against the paper, experts say, is a sign that the government is ready to effectively shutter what is left of the free press.

“If El Nacional is closed, it would have a grave impact in Venezuelan media,” said Carlos Correa, a university professor and the executive director of Public Space, a Caracas-based nonprofit that tracks press freedoms. “It would signal an escalation of censure and would definitely have a chilling effect on other outlets fearful to go through the same fate.”

Since the rise of leftist firebrand Hugo Chávez, who became president in 1999 and ruled until his death in 2013, press freedoms in Venezuela have been under threat. The state TV channel started airing hours-long presidential speeches and news propaganda. In 2004, Chávez passed a law allowing the official censure of outlets by a state watchdog, CONATEL. A host of television station and newspaper owners were pressured to sell to friends of the government or close their doors.

In contrast to Communist Cuba, a handful of independent media outlets in Venezuela managed to survive the tilt toward authoritarianism. Yet pressures against the press have redoubled under  Maduro — Chávez’s successor — who critics say staged a fraudulent election this year to secure another six-year term.

As he has arrested dissenters and quashed the political opposition, Maduro and his government have also moved to silence the free press, shutting down 54 radio and television stations over the past 18 months. Since 2015, government officials have filed lawsuits in the pro-Maduro courts against the owners of at least 25 outlets on charges of libel, defamation and incitement.

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1 thought on “Venezuela’s dictatorship trying to shut down one of the country’s last independent newspapers”

  1. “As it slides toward authoritarianism”? Uh, it got there quite some time ago. I mean, how embarrassing.

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