Chávez and his Anti-Democracy Moves

Cross-posted from PoliBlog:

Reuters has an interesting piece on Hugo Chávez and the recent political confrontation over Venezuelan TV: Unpopular TV closure consolidates Chavez’s power.

Some key passages that get to the heart of the problem in terms of the threat to free speech in Venezuela:

dependent on the government for advertising revenue, major private stations have changed their editorial line to favor a president whose brief ouster they had openly supported in 2002.

The lone hold-out was RCTV.

That is certainly a good example of how governments can use their power to influence what is said.

There is also this:

Chavez, 52, granted other channels an extension but changed their contracts so that their licenses come up for renewal again a few months before he faces re-election in 2012.

That certainly sends a signal: that which is said in the lead-up to the elections will affect the licensing (and therefore the existence) of stations.

And, clearly, Chávez is seeking to intimidate those who might protest his moves:

After days of sometimes violent demonstrations in the polarized country, Chavez brought tens of thousands of his own supporters to the streets. He chillingly ordered shantytown dwellers in the hills around Caracas, many of whom are armed, to be “on alert.”

Student demonstrators, who give security forces flowers and paint their hands white as a symbol of peace, appear to have little appetite for confrontation, preferring to cancel marches rather than break police cordons blocking their path.

At one anti-Chavez rally, dozens of his supporters on motorbikes sent the mainly middle-class university students scurrying by riding slowly toward the crowd. The helmeted men dressed in Chavez’s signature red laughed as they passed the marchers jumping over barriers to get out of the way.

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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Steve Verdon says:

    But Chavez is a liberal?!?!?


  2. tj says:

    Bottom line is that, he has the will of the people. Millions have marched in support of what Chavez is doing. Only thousands have marched in opposition. Thier country, thier rules, leavem alone. We will just have to pay whatever he wants for thier oil. Oil is what this is really about, period. All this championing of the press and freedom of speech, is not the issue. This is about oil, NOT democracy.

  3. Mark says:

    But Chavez is a liberal?!?!?

    Wrong, Steve! Chavez is a Progressive

  4. C.Wagener says:

    It’s about oil in the sense that oil is the only thing that keeps an idiot like Chavez in power for any length of time. At $30 a barrel his head will be on a stake.

  5. Harold S. says:

    Ooooh, Chavez is such an idiot! He’s really mean too!

    God bless George Bush.

  6. Steve Verdon says:

    Wrong, Steve! Chavez is a Progressive

    I stand corrected.

  7. G.A.Phillips says:

    No, Chavez is a Donkey Lord !

  8. spencer says:

    sound exactly like what the right wing dictator of Venezuela did in the early 1960s.

  9. davod says:


    Nothing changes. Chavez is going back to 60s doctrine, just like his Progressive friends in the US Congress have done. Who is taking direction from whom.