RCTV's Impending Closure
On Sunday, the broadcast license of independent Venezuelan television station RCTV expires. The station has been harshly critical of the government of Hugo Chavez, and the Committee to Protect Journalists has described its closure as being "motivated by political considerations to suppress critical coverage."
Fortunately, despite the efforts of Chavez and his supporters, Venezuela is not yet a totalitarian dictatorship along the lines of Fidel Castro's Cuba. This was evident this past weekend, as thousands of Venuzuelans protested against RCTV's impending shotdown. According to the Associated Press:
The protesters set off from four different points of the capital, converging downtown in the biggest show of support yet for Radio Caracas de Television, or RCTV, a network that has been critical of Chavez's government.
RCTV is due to go off the air at midnight May 27, when the government says its license expires. The channel and its supporters argue Chavez is trying to silence criticism, while the government says it will be replaced by a public-service station and that freedom of expression is being respected.
"If (Chavez) shuts down the channel, he's crazy," said Rafael Velasquez, a 27-year-old construction worker who traveled 150 miles from the city of Puerto La Cruz to attend the protest. "I don't think it's fair. He has to ask the people whether they want it or not."
The march was organized by the channel and 26 opposition political parties.
The idea that "freedom of expression is being respected" when an anti-government broadcast network is closed and replaced by a pro-government one is absurd beyond belief.