Yesterday, the Comision Nacional de Telecomunicaciones [National Telecommunications Commission] (CONATEL) opened an investigation into the Globovision network after the station aired an interview with National Assembly vice-president Freddy Guevara in which he called for active resistance against the Maduro regime. The interview aired on January 11 in the popular Vladimir a la 1 interview show.
The host of the show, journalist Vladimir Villegas, reacted to the news yesterday by calling CONATEL’s move an attack against freedom of expression and an attempt to censure media critical of the regime.
In response to news of the investigation, Guevara issued a press release condemning CONATEL’s actions and expressing his support for freedom of expression, Globovision and Villegas himself.
Part of Guevara’s press release reads:
Last Wednesday, January 11 I was invited to the Vladimir a la 1 program which airs on Globovision in my capacity as First Vice-President of the National Assembly, not only to explain our decision to declare the abandonment of the position of President of the Republic by Nicolas Maduro over the serious crisis that has engulfed Venezuela, but also to warm about its increasingly dictatorial character, and as a consequence, the increasing repression against all sectors of society.
During that interview, I stressed that out posture was uncomfortable for the regime, and that they would likely sanction the channel over it giving space on its screens to our ideas, which have always been grounded on democratic and Constitutional principles, and which he hold on to today more than ever. Liberty in Venezuela necessitates mass, peaceful mobilizations on the streets, civil, peaceful, irreverent and organized, in order to restore the Constitutional threat that was broken by the government when it denied the right to vote and usurped powers through the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court thanks to several illegitimate and illegal magistrates.
The sanction placed by the National Telecommunications Commission (CONATEL) against Globovision is not only another piece of evidence of the censorship of a government that wants to continue to impose [its will], but also of its continued and dangerous course down the path of totalitarianism, where only the government’s version of the truth is accepted.
Any measure of censorship or the threat of censorship is a direct attack against the freedom of thought, which is the weapon that dictatorial and anti-democratic regimes fear the most.
Dialogue Mediators Visit, Express Support for National Assembly
Mediators from the MUD-PSUV dialogue visited the National Assembly today and voiced their support for the legislature, calling its existence “the difference between a democracy and not a democracy”.
The mediators including UNASUR secretary general Ernesto Samper, Vatican nuncio Aldo Giordani, and former presidents Jose Luis Zapatero, Leonel Fernandez, and Martin Torrijos of Spain, Dominican Republic and Panama, respectively. The men arrived in Venezuela earlier this week and met with Maduro yesterday to attempt to re-start talks between the PSUV and the opposition.
After a meeting with opposition deputies that included National Assembly president Julio Borges and vice-president Freddy Guevara, Samper said:
We came to express our support to the Venezuelan National Assembly. We are deeply convinced that part of the structure of a democracy involves the presence and health of a congress.
The opposition-controlled National Assembly has been the target of numerous legal sanctions and threats from the Maduro regime over the last year, including a September Supreme Court ruling that declared all of the legislature’s future actions null and repeated threats from Maduro himself to dissolve the Assembly.
Samper: Venezuela Must Hold Elections
Speaking on Globovision‘s Vladimir a la 1 today, UNASUR secretary General Ernesto Samper stressed the importance of holding elections in Venezuela, saying:
The democratic game must be fair.
Samper also said that he considered that because the Constitution of Venezuela mandates that elections be held regularly, elections must eventually take place.
Samper has often come under criticism from opposition figures and supporters for his perceived partiality towards the PSUV, and because of UNASUR’s apparent unwillingness to denounce the Maduro regime and its human rights violations.
Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles reacted to Samper’s comments with skepticism through his Twitter account, saying:
We know that your interests are those of Maduro.
Dialogue on Hold as UNASUR, Mediators Try to Revive Effort
Carlos Ocariz, the mayor of the Sucre municipality of Caracas and Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) representative for the dialogue with the PSUV, said that the opposition bloc was awaiting a set of proposals from UNASUR regarding an attempt to restart the failed talks between the two sides.
The UNASUR representatives announced that they were going to give the MUD some proposals. We’re awaiting to find out their content.
At the same time, Ocariz pointed out that the dialogue between the MUD and the PSUV was effectively dead, saying:
However, we repeat and stress that there are no meetings scheduled in these next few days with the government.
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