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A black wall of Internet censorship has descended on Venezuela. The government has kicked out 7 CNN reporters from the country. And in Tachira, a hotbed of dissident activity, the Internet went dark for 36 hours.

Here in this country, we take for granted the ability to access most websites when we please. However, in Venezuela and certain other countries around the world, the governmental authorities control when you can and can't access the Internet. It doesn't matter which side of the political spectrum the government is on; any form of censorship of the Internet or any other means of freedom of expression is unacceptable. One poster Tweeted:

In Táchira we were without Internet, water, light, food, gasoline, [public] transport, commerce. But we do have balls, which is what Venezuela needs right now.

What particularly enraged the Venezuelan authorities over CNN's coverage was their belief that CNN was fermenting civil war. However, there is a big difference between fermenting civil war and reporting on the ground conditions that the government might not want heard. If the government cannot provide basic services such as Internet, water, light, food, gas, public transportation, or commerce, then it is not a matter of if, but when, the people will rise up or move out. Global Voices Advocacy, an international group advocating free speech, posts:

Internet blackouts of this magnitude are unprecedented in Venezuela. But web blocking is not. Over the last six months, as inflation has soared to over 50%, foreign currency valuation sites have been blocked en masse. Since protests escalated last week, hundreds of blogs and websites covering news and political issues have been reported as blocked, both on Twitter and on the crowd-sourcing platform, Herdict. For over a week, users throughout the country have reported difficulty accessing Twitter and a dramatic overall drop in Internet speed.
We note that the late Hugo Chavez did not need recourse to these kind of Internet blackouts or web blocking to the extent that the present regime is.
After two days of darkness, service returned. Science and Technology Minister Manuel Fernández apologized for the disconnection, saying that there had been “problems at northern Táchira and in San Cristóbal,” caused by the “many fires in the city.”
CNN is continuing to report from Venezuela. Mariano Castillo reports:
A media blackout has stymied the flow of information during some of the most intense days of clashes between anti-government protesters and authorities. In addition, strict regulations have pressured media outlets to tread softly when it comes to covering the violence.
CNN has a feature named iReport, which users can use to submit their own news stories. They are then vetted by CNN's people. One submission contrasted Nicolas Maduro saying everything was under control with this:
These are developments that mostly have not been making it on to Venezuelan newscasts.

One vetted iReport video begins by showing a contrast: President Nicolas Maduro speaking on television about how things are under control, while outside a window, national guard troops are firing tear gas.

As he filmed, Giorgio Russo said the troops "aimed at me but since I live on the 14th floor I didn't think they could reach, but I was wrong."

A tear gas canister broke through a window and landed under a sofa, Russo said. His brother managed to throw the canister back out the window, but not before their 85-year-old father suffered from the gas.

And Castillo reports on other examples of Venezuela's ongoing censorship:
The day before, according to Human Rights Watch, the state broadcasting authority warned that coverage of the violence could violate a controversial law that prohibits the broadcasting of material that "foments anxiety" or "incites or promotes hatred and intolerance for ... political reasons."
The Press and Society Institute monitored 38 radio stations the day of the killings and found that only five reported on developments in the day's deadly violence and 30 transmitted "light programming. The other three echoed the government's position.
The ongoing culture of censorship by the Venezuelan government is deeply disturbing and does not pass the smell test. If everything is under control, then what do they have to hide through the use of massive censorship?
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Comment Preferences

  •  Another anti-VZ, anti-Maduro post (6+ / 0-)

    Have you lived in Vz?

    Blackouts and internet outages are a way of life due to poor infrastructure.  Sometimes the lights are on, sometimes not. You can't get internet access when the power is out.

    Venezuela is not a first world country.  Power goes out for unexplained reasons.  The generating capacity and transmission infrastructure is largely controlled by those who would prefer that social democratic revolution fail.

    Hugo Chavez was a legitimate force of will, born into the indigenous population.  Madeuro, not so much, but he is committed to continuing the Bolivarian Revolution.

    I'm really tiring of the Heritage Foundation posts on this site that disparage the grassroots nature of cultural change in an entire country that the U.S. has largely ignored for the past decade.  More importantly, those posts (like this one) promote a return to the oligarchical of the resources and exports of this troubled (but beautiful) country.

    •  Sadly, (6+ / 0-)

      I'm not so confident that the USA has been ignoring Venezuela for the past decade.

      Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

      by corvo on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 07:58:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I am (0+ / 0-)

        After the failed CIA coup in 2002, the U.S. basically abandoned the country.

        I lived there.

        •  "laid low" might be a better way of putting it. nt (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Louisiana 1976

          Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

          by corvo on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 08:05:41 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Well: (3+ / 0-)

          If the CNN reporters that Maduro kicked out have some sort of ties with the CIA, then let him come forward with the evidence. I have been known to change my mind. This sort of censorship only gives legitimacy to the opposition.

          "The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression." - W.E.B. Du Bois Be informed. Fight the Police State.

          by Eternal Hope on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 08:08:45 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  The US is still pumping millions into the country (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BigAlinWashSt, Louisiana 1976

          through NGO's.

          Here's a Wikileaks document

          REQUEST FOR ADDITIONAL FUNDS TO HELP STRENGTHEN LOCAL GOVERNMENTS AND CIVIL SOCIETY GROUPS

          Date:
          2009 March 27, 18:44 (Friday)

          Canonical ID:
          09CARACAS404_a

          Original Classification:
          CONFIDENTIAL

          TAGS:
          EAID - Economic Affairs--Foreign Assistance | PREL - Political Affairs--External Political Relations | VE - Venezuela

          From:
          Venezuela Caracas

          To:
          National Security Council | Secretary of State

          Classified By: CHARGE D'AFFAIRES JOHN CAULFIELD, REASON 1.4 (D) 1. (C) Summary: As President Chavez concentrates even more power in his presidency, and closes off space for democratic dialogue, Embassy's USAID/OTI programs in support of democracy and civil society are vital to preserving and strengthening remaining democratic institutions and practices in Venezuela. FY 2009 total funding for these programs is currently USD 7 million. Given that the November 2008 elections and February 2009 referendum created a new political map for Venezuela, post requests an additional USD 3 million to increase outreach efforts to newly elected state and municipal government, as well as to continue programs to strengthen civil society and prepare for the next round of elections in 2010. Our programs to date have been successful in increasing political pluralism in Venezuela, and redoubling our effort is necessary to counter the increasing authoritarianism of the Chavez government. End Summary.

          Why We Need More Funding
          ...

    •  This has nothing to do with Heritage. (10+ / 0-)

      Global Voices Advocacy is hardly a right-wing outfit. CNN, for their shortcomings, is really good about getting people on the ground in hot spots to report the truth regardless of who it benefits. And Censorship is wrong whether it is a right-wing government or a socialist government doing it. If Maduro is serious about continuing Chavez's policies, then let him provide basic services to the people, even when they don't agree with his policies. And let him stop blocking access to Twitter and other social networking sites.

      "The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression." - W.E.B. Du Bois Be informed. Fight the Police State.

      by Eternal Hope on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 08:06:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  There is absolutely nothing about this post (6+ / 0-)

      that is anti-VZ and certainly nothing that justifies tossing in the Heritage Foundation charge.

      You don't like what the diarist has to say, why don't you write your own diary rebutting.

    •  That's what the people are being fed. Notice (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      corvo, Zadatz, PhilK, Claudius Bombarnac

      all the links not only in the diary but in comments.  CNN, Washington Post, etc.  The corrupted mainstream media isn't going to tell people the truth.  

      "Fragmented and confused, we have no plan to combat any of this, but are looking to be saved by the very architects of our ruination."

      by BigAlinWashSt on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 08:50:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Maduro, and Chavez before him (5+ / 0-)

      have stifled free speech.

      So, I, for one, am glad the diarist has done his/her part in even a small way to bring this to the attention of dKos readers.  The world press, especially the American press seems to be ignoring the riots and protests in Venezuela - and the brutal government retaliation.

      If a regime must resort to shooting its own people and threatening news agencies for reporting it, your so-called "social democratic revolution" has already failed.

      Human Rights Watch has condemned the actions of the Venezuelan government in squelching coverage of the protests.  

  •  Media Blackout (7+ / 0-)

    From the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF): Venezuela's Internet Crackdown Escalates into Regional Blackout

    The censorship began early last week when the authorities removed a Columbian news network, NTN24, from Venezuelan cable, and simultaneously published a reminder that TV stations could be in violation of a law that forbids the incitement or promotion of "hatred", or "foment citizens' anxiety or alter public order."

    Venezuelan Internet users on a variety of ISPs lost connectivity last Thursday to an IP address owned by the content delivery network, Edgecast. That address provided access to, among other services, Twitter's images at pbs.twimg.com. A separate block prevented Venezuelans from reaching the text hosting site, Pastebin.

    No official explanation for the loss of access to these general purpose communication platforms was given by either the government or the ISPs (the country's largest ISP, CANTV, is government-owned). Twitter later reconfigured their services to point to another IP in response to Venezuelan complaints, bypassing the block. Twitter also communicated to users in Venezuela how to use Twitter using SMS, in anticipation of further Internet interruptions.

    William Castillo, the director of CONATEL, the country's media regulator, later claimed that Internet censorship was necessary to fight off online attacks. He said that his organization had blocked several links "where public sites were being attacked."

    Last week also saw the Venezuelan government prepare more systematic monitoring and blocking online. The country's official gazette published last Thursday the details of a new government institution, CESPPA ("The Strategic Center for Security and Protection of the Country"). Among its broad powers, CESPPA can unilaterally classify and censor any information it sees as a threat to national security. Its structure includes two new Directorates: the Directorate of Information and Technology Studies, which will be in charge of "processing and analyzing information from the web"; and the Directorate for Social Research, intended to "neutralize and defeat destabilization plans against the nation". The Center will also provide for a network of situation rooms to be placed in all public institutions (the state ISP, CANTV, is defined as a public institution).

    •  Mexico far Worse (4+ / 0-)

      According to World Press Freedom Index,

      http://rsf.org/...

      Mexico is at 152

      Venezuela at 116

      But because Mexico is run by a RightWing Regime, many Kossacks have no problem with it.  As they had no problem with the RightWing Calderon stealing the election from the center-left Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in 2006.

      Many Kossacks, especially those who have lived in Latin America, embrace liberalism in the US.

      But inveigh against liberal governments in the South.

      I wouldn't be shocked if President Dilma Rousseff is the next target of destabilization from the Right.

      Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project. www.hamiltonproject.org

      by PatriciaVa on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 08:18:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I have plenty of problems. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Louisiana 1976

        The Mexican government can't keep order in their country and they have let things get so out of hands that whole areas are nothing but anarchy and violence. And they lower their standard of living so much that they are driving people out of their country and into ours. They are a perfect example of a right-wing government taken to its logical extreme.

        "The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression." - W.E.B. Du Bois Be informed. Fight the Police State.

        by Eternal Hope on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 08:48:25 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  slightly OT, but last I heard, (2+ / 0-)

          undocumented Mexican immigrants here were beginning to return to Mexico -- because of the job situation here.

          Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

          by corvo on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 08:54:01 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  and I was wrong: (2+ / 0-)

            They're not beginning to return; they've been returning in ever greater numbers for more than a decade now, and the number returning is higher than the number immigrating.  Tells you a lot about our economy!  

            Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

            by corvo on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 08:59:24 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  News to me (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Farugia, nuclear winter solstice

        I read Spanish and sometimes read and watch Mexican political commentary and satire in various media.  It impresses me for being even more raw and unrestrained that what I see in the US, albeit defeatist and apathetic at times.

        Now Venezuela, that's repression.

        •  Televisa and Azteca TV News, 90%+ mkt.. (3+ / 0-)

          ..share b/w the two, repeatedly refer to Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador as a Marxist for campaigning on the same economic platform that Senator Obama campaigned on.

          This in a country that up to one month ago didn't even have a tax on capital gains (today it's 10%).

          AMLO argued for a capital gains tax during the campaign, and reporters would interject that his plan would chase away investment, that the "job creators" would leave.

          Fox News is to the left of Televisa Noticias.

          Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project. www.hamiltonproject.org

          by PatriciaVa on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 09:01:46 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I don't read or speak Spanish yet, but I find it (0+ / 0-)

          interesting to watch Telemundo because there have been times I could tell by their pictures that they had covered a story that US media did not so much.

          We are all pupils in the eyes of God.

          by nuclear winter solstice on Sat Feb 22, 2014 at 04:07:34 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  I didn't have any problem today... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wu ming, Claudius Bombarnac

      ...getting to my PayPal account from an internet cafe, or withdrawing my B's from an ATM.  I'm good to go tonight from my apt. and wireless connection.

      Methinks the U.S. media is taking talking points from Heritage or AEI.

      Venezuelanos love Americans.  They despise the American government.  And yes, there is a difference, and the locals can distinguish the difference.

      G'nite.

  •  Assuming the Internet cutoff was deliberate, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wu ming, Claudius Bombarnac

    I'd consider it a ham-fisted and unacceptable response to an antidemocratic (and thus unacceptable) attempt to bring down a legitimate and fairly elected government.

    Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

    by corvo on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 08:14:40 PM PST

    •  Protesting In The Streets Is Antidemocratic? (5+ / 0-)

      The country has almost 60% inflation, there are shortages of food and other material goods, there is rampant crime and murder, and the government is censoring threatening the media.

      And it's an antidemocratic attempt for people to complain about it?

      From the Washington Post: Venezuelan violence has roots in obscure incident

      Just over a week before the coordinated Feb. 12 opposition rallies across the country, students at the University of the Andes in San Cristobal were protesting an attempted rape of a young woman on campus. The students were outraged at the brazen assault on their campus, which underscored long-standing complaints about deteriorating security under President Nicolas Maduro and his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez.

      But what really set them off was the harsh police response to their initial protest, in which several students were detained and allegedly abused, as well as follow-up demonstrations to call for their release, according to students and people who live in San Cristobal, a city on Venezuela’s remote Andean border. “It was shocking not just to students but to all of San Cristobal,” said Gaby Arellano, a 27-year-old student leader who has been involved in the national opposition campaign. “It was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

      The protests expanded and grew more intense, drawing in more non-students angry about the dismal economy and crime in general, which led to more people being detained. Students at other universities decided to march in Caracas, which grew into a nationwide campaign when the prominent opposition leaders decided to get involved.

      The main rally on Feb. 12 in the capital turned violent, resulting in three deaths from gunshots and then the jailing of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez. Now, protests that continued throughout the country Friday, and are particularly fierce in San Cristobal, rarely, if ever, mention the attempted rape. “I’m protesting because of the insecurity, for the scarcity and the abuse of power that we have been experiencing,” said Maria Garcia, a 30-year-old mother in the Los Agustinos neighborhood of San Cristobal, where patrolling soldiers have strung coils to control protesters who lob rocks and Molotov cocktails. “I’m tired of waiting five or six hours in line for a kilo of flour.”

      •  I differentiate between protest (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Claudius Bombarnac

        and mob rule.  YMMV.  

        Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

        by corvo on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 08:21:47 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  The WaPo and NYT both published premature (4+ / 0-)

        accounts supporting the attempted coup against Chavez in 2002. These rags are probably the least reliable sources of information about what is occurring in Venezuela.

        Same shit - just a new pile.

        Venezuelan Democracy Survives, In Spite of Washington
        Knight-Ridder/Tribune Information Services, April 15, 2002

        A joke that was once popular in Latin America has become relevant again: Why has there never been a military coup in the United States? Answer: because there's no U.S. embassy here.
        ...
        One of the most shameful occurrences during last few days was the support of America's leading newspapers for the Venezuelan coup. The New York Times and the Washington Post both resoundingly endorsed the military coup in their Saturday editorials. The editorial boards of these newspapers ought to engage in some serious soul-searching as to how they could so easily abandon the most fundamental principles of democracy.
        ...
        But today no one denies that Hugo Chavez is the democratically elected president of Venezuela, yet our government and foreign policy establishment—including the press—considers it legitimate to overthrow his government by force.

        Chavez has been conciliatory upon his return, offering concessions to the state oil company employees who led the protests that culminated in the attempted coup. The Bush Administration has been unrepentant, with National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice warning Chavez to "respect constitutional processes." If only Washington would learn to do the same.

  •  Anti-Maduro protestors using the internet to (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BigAlinWashSt, whizdom

    spread disinformation. Even CNN has been caught in the act.

    Enjoy:

    Constructing "Venezuela" protests: a photo gallery

    •  Not defending that tactic. (0+ / 0-)

      But the government has to trust its people to see through the lies.

      "The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression." - W.E.B. Du Bois Be informed. Fight the Police State.

      by Eternal Hope on Sat Feb 22, 2014 at 04:37:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I've watched a few video posted and they... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      maracucho

      ...don't support what you are asserting. One in particular showed a the security beating up a whole neighborhood. They would smash up cars and shoot out the windows while laughing and joking. When the noticed they were being filmed they shot at the windows of the buildings.( I was impressed how the person holding the camera didn't duck. I assume they were below the sill.) I saw others where the red shirts would point out places where people were filming from shoot the police could shoot there shotguns ta them. I did see people drive to the ground in that one. I would take a whole lot to stage this stuff for disinformation so I think your link in the spreader of disinformation.

      There is too much evidence that says Venezuela is seeing serious protests that the government and their supporters are violently suppressing. I can see how anyone can support that!

      For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.” J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

      by Maroon watch on Sat Feb 22, 2014 at 04:49:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Where's your links? (0+ / 0-)
        I would take a whole lot to stage this stuff for disinformation so I think your link in the spreader of disinformation.
        How can you say that? My link shows tweets using false images to portray events supposedly occurring in Venezuela. It is what it is. It doesn't say anything about other images that are correct.
  •  Tachira (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Claudius Bombarnac

    has been the power base of Capriles, the guy who kept running against Chavez and Maduro and losing.  
    It is a gangland drug route with a great deal of smuggling, with Columbian cooperation.
    Columbia is a US ally, and much of our meddling passes through Tachira.  

  •  Haven't you heard? (0+ / 0-)

    It's a battle of words......
    and most of them are lies.

    Roger Waters nailed it with that short line.

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