Minister of Communication Jorge Rodriguez announced this evening that there were 131 new cases of COVID-19 detected in Venezuela over the last 24 hours, shattering the previous record set yesterday and cementing fears that the outbreak is entering a phase of exponential growth in the country.

Rodriguez said that 81 of the new cases had come from Colombia, and that as a result the government would install “sanitation walls” in the form of mandatory quarantines for anyone who enters from foot from Colombia. Rodriguez said:

Whoever enters through Tachira [state] will remain in Tachira for two weeks. The same goes for anyone who enters through other areas: they will remain there under mandatory quarantine. If we allowed [these people] to just go to their homes it’s likely that they would infect other people, and we can’t allow that.

DirectTV Pulls Out of Venezuela

AT&T, the parent company of satellite television provider DirectTV, shocked Venezuela today by announcing that it was leaving the country as a result of an incompatibility between Venezuelan law and United States sanctions against the Maduro government.

In a statement published on its website this morning, AT&T announced that it was being forced to cease operations in Venezuela because it is required under the terms of its Venezuela broadcast license to carry two government-linked channels: Globovision and PDVSA TV. However, because U.S. sanctions prohibit transactions involving a list of government-linked entities, the company found itself in a position where it could not follow both legal regimens at the same time.

Below, the AT&T statement:

Today, AT&T Inc.* announced that it has closed its DIRECTV Latin America operations in Venezuela, effective immediately. The U.S. government’s sanctions on Venezuela have prohibited the broadcast of Globovision and PDVSA’s channels, both of which are required under DIRECTV’s license to provide pay TV service in Venezuela.

Because it is impossible for AT&T’s DIRECTV unit to comply with the legal requirements of both countries, AT&T was forced to close its pay TV operations in Venezuela, a decision that was made by the company’s U.S. leadership team without any involvement or prior knowledge of the DIRECTV Venezuela team.

As of the writing of this update, it is not clear if the move from AT&T means that DirectTV will stop broadcasting in the country. There are currently contradictory reports from Venezuelans reporting both continued service as well as an end to the DirectTV signal.

DirectTV antennas are ubiquitous in Venezuela, and in particularly poor neighbourhoods that lack other media infrastructure. According to the Associated Press, AT&T had 44% of the paid television market share in the country until it ceased operations there today. 

Questions/Comments? Email me: invenezuelablog@gmail.com

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