Curtailing Political Speech in Venezuela
A Venezuelan news channel highly critical of President Hugo Chavez has paid a $2.1m (£1.3m) fine for its coverage of a prison riot a year ago.
The move comes a day after the Supreme Court placed a seizure order on assets belonging to Globovision worth nearly three times the original fine.
“The fine is unfair and disproportionate,” said Globovision vice-president Carlos Zuloaga.
I cannot speak to the merits of the El Rodeo prison issue itself, as I am unfamiliar with the details. What I do know is that Globovision has a long history of conflict with the Chavez regime and that the regime has been known to use the courts and other regulatory mechanism to make life difficult for media outlets critical of the government.
As such, the following assessment is reasonable:
“This decision doesn’t surprise us because we are about to begin an election campaign in which the government tends to take judicial actions to intimidate the independent private media,” said channel vice-president Maria Fernanda Flores.