Chavez threatens to terminate more TV licenses

Venezuelan President warns country's "bourgeoisie" it will "keep losing its strongholds one by one."

Chavez monkey wanker 298 (photo credit: AP)
Chavez monkey wanker 298
(photo credit: AP)
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez threatened Saturday to terminate the broadcast licenses of private media outlets seen as sowing unrest in Venezuela, just days after he yanked the nation's oldest private TV station off the air. Radio Caracas Television, or RCTV, was forced off the air May 27 after Chavez refused to renew its broadcast license, citing the channel's conduct during a failed coup in 2002 and alleged violations of broadcast laws. Large, sometimes violent protests by students warning of a threat to freedom of expression erupted after the decision - an outcry that Chavez says is being fomented by government opponents trying to topple his administration. Chavez has warned other broadcasters, radio stations and newspapers covering the protests of unspecified sanctions if they continue to "incite" instability. Saturday's warning took that a step further - warning the private media he could abruptly end their licenses at any moment. "In the case of the old bourgeois channel (RCTV), we were quite patient and waited for its concession to end, but don't anybody believe that it will always be like that. A concession can end before the established time ... for violations of the constitution, the laws, for media terrorism, for many things," he said. The comments were made to thousands of red-clad supporters who at times chanted, "It's your turn next, Globovision!" in reference to the only major opposition-aligned TV channel remaining in the country. During a failed 2002 coup against Chavez, RCTV, Globovision and other private channels broadcast opposition calls for protests to overthrow Chavez while giving scant coverage to his return to power amid protests by his supporters. Chavez accused the US government, which swiftly recognized the transitional president who took power at the time, of trying to orchestrate a "soft coup" this time by using the private media, the opposition and the students. "I've made a call to the private media ... make no mistake, watch carefully where you tread," Chavez said, warning the "Venezuelan bourgeoisie" it will "keep losing its strongholds one by one." Although many of Venezuela's media outlets are still privately owned and critical of Chavez, the RCTV case has raised concerns because it was the only opposition-aligned TV station with nationwide reach. The decision has been condemned by several foreign governments, press freedom groups and international organizations, whom Chavez accused of conspiring to smear his government. "Go straight to hell, representatives of the international oligarchy! We send you straight to hell from the streets of the free, free people of Venezuela!" he said to a roaring crowd.