“Democratizing Television and Radio” in Venezuela

Cross-posted from PoliBlog:

Via the BBC: Chavez supporters back TV closure

Tens of thousands of supporters of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez have marched to show they back his decision to close an opposition TV network.

Radio Caracas TV openly called for Mr Chavez to be removed from power during a failed coup attempt in 2002.

Mr Chavez told his supporters to be vigilant because his opponents were planning another attempt to topple him.

The demonstration came a day after large numbers of students took to the streets to protest against the closure.

The opposition activists believe the president is limiting freedom of expression.

As I noted yesterday, Chávez is going to try and use this situation rhetorically to rally support and he will likely then attempt to turn that rhetorical attack into the basis for more power for himself. His behavior at yesterday’s rally buttress that position:

Speaking to the supporters who marched through Caracas under the slogan “democratising television and radio” on Saturday, Mr Chavez accused the US government or trying to orchestrate a “gentle coup” by using the private media, the opposition and students.

Attacking the US is nothing new, however accusing students of being part of a “gentle coup” is interesting and does indicate that he feels threatened. In the past his attacks have been focused on the “oligarchy” and the long standing power brokers of the AD and COPEI parties. Now he is willing to toss student protesters in a group who is being orchestrated by the US into fomenting a “gentle coup”? That is an interesting development.

As a side note, one has to love the Orwellian slogan of the day.

Of more significance is Chávez’s continued threats against free speech:

“I’ve made a call to the private media… make no mistake, watch carefully where you tread,” Mr Chavez said.

“If the bourgeoisie of Venezuela continues to become desperate, and continues to try to undermine the Bolivarian people of Venezuela, they will continue losing their possessions one by one. One by one!” he said.

That sounds like “democratizing television and radio” the same way that the People’s Republic of China is a paragon of democratic governance.

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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. davod says:

    He is now a dictator. What more does he need. Look to him becoming more opppressive.

  2. Matthew J. Stinson says:

    Come on, Dr. T, is it really fair to China to compare their government to Chavez’s? 😉 Anyways, the “democratizing” process seems to me to be more or less the same concept which gave us the thriving and vibrant “Democratic” People’s Republic of Korea.

    Come to think of it … Kim family Juche + oil = Chavez Bolivarianism. Without oil money, Chavez would be steering the country into oblivion.