CNN En Español was taken off the air across all Venezuelan cable providers today, following orders from the Maduro regime to stop the network from broadcasting in the country after a news report last week that aired on the channel provided evidence that the Venezuelan embassy in Iraq was illegally selling passports and other documents to anyone who could afford them.
The measure was announced in the later afternoon by the Comision Nacional de Telecomunicaciones [National Telecommunications Commission] (CONATEL), which claimed that CNN had violated the Social Responsibility in Television and Radio Law with its broadcast. In justifying the blocking of the channel, CONATEL said:
[CNN broadcasts] constitute direct attacks against the democratic peace and stability of our Venezuelan people.
It is not clear at this time if the measure is temporary, or if it is meant to be long-lasting.
CNN responded to the block by granting free access to Venezuelan users to its web-based broadcast, which is available on their website.
The measure was foreshadowed by comments made by Foreign Affairs Minister Delcy Rodriguez, who spoke about CNN in the early afternoon, saying:
The owners of the CNN network lack morals and only worry about putting money in their pockets. On February 6 they aired a program that tried to link the Bolivarian government with the alleged trafficking of passports. We want to denounce this as part of an operation by a channel that is at the service of the political agenda of the United States.
CNN joins NTN24, a Colombian news network that was blocked in the country in February 2014, as the latest foreign media outlet banned in the country.
Maduro: CNN Working on “Massive Intervention” in Venezuela
Shortly after the announcement of CNN’s ban, Maduro provided context for the measure by arguing that the network was “promoting a massive intervention” in Venezuela. Speaking in a televised address, Maduro address President Donald Trump directly, saying:
You should know, Donald Trump, that CNN and the Department of State are selling you the wrong policy in Venezuela (…) they’re promoting a massive intervention and an attack (…) CNN is an instrument of war in the hands of true mafias.
Maduro also said:
Venezuela wants better relations with this new administration, but it looks like they’re already pushing him and he’s going to fall into the same hole that the Bush clan and the Clinton-Obama clan fell into.
Maduro’s theory that CNN is somehow colluding with the Department of State to influence President Trump’s opinion on Venezuela is unsubstantiated and runs contrary to Trump’s very public opinion of CNN. Throughout the campaign and into his presidency, Trump has repeatedly referred to CNN’s reporting as “fake news”, and calling the network “terrible”.
Donald Trump Tweets About Meeting with Lilian Tintori
President Donald Trump held a surprise meeting this evening at the White House with Lilian Tintori, Leopoldo Lopez’s wife, as well as Republican Senator Marco Rubio.
After the meeting, Trump tweeted the following message:
Tintori has become a human rights activist since her husband’s incarceration in 2014, and travels to the United States and Latin American countries relatively regularly in order to spread awareness about the deteriorating human rights situation in the country.
Trump also had a brief telephone conversation with Argentinan President Mauricio Macri, and the two are reported to have spoken “about the region and in particular about Venezuela”.