Venezuela Pulls Columbian TV Channel From Airwaves

By Reuters Staff Updated at 2017-08-24 18:01:07 +0000


CARACAS (Reuters) - President Nicolas Maduro's socialist government has pulled a Colombian television channel from Venezuela's airwaves, Caracol Television said on Thursday, slamming the move as a crackdown on media.

Maduro's administration frequently blasts neighboring Colombia for being part of what it describes as a global right-wing conspiracy to bring down socialism in oil-rich Venezuela.

The government didn't have an immediate comment on the matter.

Critics of Maduro say the unpopular leader has morphed into a dictator who tries to stifle coverage of the OPEC country's rampant inflation, product shortages, violent crime, and its crackdown on opposition politicians.

"One more channel off the airwaves! Has that made crime go down? Is inflation any lower? Is there more food? More medicine? Has any problem been solved? This is what (Maduro) takes care of, censuring the truth," opposition leader Henrique Capriles said on Thursday.

Maduro, a 54-year-old former bus driver and foreign minister, alleges he is fighting against well-financed coup plotters with links to the United States and hostile foreign media.

Earlier this year, Venezuelan telecoms regulator Conatel suspended three television channels, including CNN's Spanish-language service, from Venezuela's airwaves, accusing it of distorting the truth in coverage.

Authorities also took Colombia's NTN24 TV network off the air in 2014 over its reporting of opposition protests that turned violent, and blocked the Argentine news site Infobae.

"Caracol Television has joined a long list of channels that have gone off air in Venezuela," the channel said in a statement, blasting "censorship" from Maduro.

Venezuela's information ministry and regulator Conatel did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

(Story refiles to fix typo in headline.)

Reporting by Corina Pons, Andreina Aponte and Alexandra Ulmer; Writing by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Bernadette Baum