bravo, venezuelans

Posted on May 21, 2007


Perhaps Venezuelans have finally had enough of the antics of their president, Hugo Chavez.

Tens of thousands took to the streets of the nation’s capital, Caracas, protesting against Chavez’s decision not to renew the license of the country’s oldest private TV station, RCTV.

RCTV has been known to be critical of the Venezuelan government and is allied to the opposition in Venezuela. Chavez has also accused the station of supporting a failed coup against him in 2002, the BBC said.

When RCTV is shut down, Chavez is taking away the well-loved telenovelas it produces and an independent voice, while replacing it with a state-owned station.

Chavez’s move has been condemned by international groups such as Amnesty International and even the Roman Catholic Church.

But the comforting thing is that ordinary Venezuelans are bravely getting into action, probably fed-up with the erosion of civil liberties that Chavez has been progressively chipping away at.

It’s been one take-over by the state after another, since Chavez’s re-election by a landslide earlier this year. The state has renationalized oil refineries, and is in the process of nationalizing telecoms while threats have been voiced about wielding state control over banks. At the same time, Chavez wants Venezuela out of international organizations like the World Bank.

This weekend’s march in favor of press freedom is hopefully the start of a series of challenges ordinary Venezuelans will mount against the increasingly radicalized Venezuelan government. It would also be a reminder to Chavez that there is a limit to the people’s tolerance to the road he is taking the country down, and hopefully, temper his next actions.