Venezuelan official: Twitter suspending accounts is 'ethnic cleansing'

By Andrew V. Pestano Follow @AVPLive9 Contact the Author   |   June 18, 2017 at 2:52 PM

June 18 (UPI) -- A Venezuelan official suggested Twitter suspending accounts supporting President Nicolas Maduro's regime is "ethnic cleansing" that is "equivalent to the burning of people in reality."

Venezuelan Communications Ministry official Ernesto Villegas on Saturday said the government estimates about 180 public and "military revolutionary" accounts were suspended by Twitter's Latin American division.

Villegas said the account of the state-run National Radio of Venezuela, or RNV, was among those suspended. Though no official reason for the suspension has been released by Twitter, Villegas suggested the accounts were suspended after the Maduro presidency's Twitter account, Radio Miraflores, criticized the U.S. government.

Villegas and Maduro said Twitter's suspensions targeted "Chavistas" -- supporters of late former President Hugo Chavez's socialist regime.

"Not only against RNV and Radio Miraflores: 'Ethnic cleansing' against Chavistas on Twitter is equivalent to the burning of people in reality," Villegas wrote on Twitter.

Twitter has not yet responded to the Venezuelan government's complaint and has not revealed how many accounts were suspended.

On Saturday while during a political event in Caracas, Maduro also criticized Twitter, suggesting the social media company is intervening with the country's affairs.

"Issued [a] national and international complaint against the company Twitter from Venezuela for [it] today deactivated thousands of accounts of people, young people, workers, professionals, for the sole reason of being Chavistas," Maduro said.

Venezuela has gone through more than two months of protests in which more than 60 people have died.

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