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Venezuela shuts down CNN en Español over 'direct aggressions'

By
Andrew V. Pestano
Andrés Eloy Méndez (right), the director general of Venezuela's National Commission of Telecommunications, said on state-run TV channel VTV on Thursday that CNN was not censored despite being taken down as part of sanctions over alleged violations of Venezuela's Law of Social Responsibility in Radio, Television and Electronic Media. Photo courtesy of CONATEL
Andrés Eloy Méndez (right), the director general of Venezuela's National Commission of Telecommunications, said on state-run TV channel VTV on Thursday that CNN was not censored despite being taken down as part of sanctions over alleged violations of Venezuela's Law of Social Responsibility in Radio, Television and Electronic Media. Photo courtesy of CONATEL

Feb. 16 (UPI) -- Venezuela's National Commission of Telecommunications, or CONATEL, suspended the CNN en Español Spanish-language channel for alleged "direct aggressions that threaten the peace and democratic stability" of Venezuela.

CNN Español's broadcast became unavailable soon after CONATEL's public statement announcing the sanctions.

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"This procedure is due to the content that has been disseminated by the international news chain in a systematic and repeated way in the development of its daily programming, from which clear and perceptible content appear that presumably constitute direct aggressions that threaten the peace and democratic stability of our Venezuelan people since they generate a climate of intolerance," CONATEL said in a statement.

Venezuela is facing an economic crisis in which basic goods such as food, medicine and toiletries are in short supply, unavailable, or unaffordable because of high inflation. The Venezuelan opposition has long blamed the regime of President Nicolas Maduro for exacerbating Venezuela's problems through corruption and inefficiency.

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Maduro has often accused the United States of working against the socialist government left behind by late former President Hugo Chavez. He accuses the United States of supporting the Venezuelan opposition and corporations as part of an "economic war" against his administration.

Maduro's regime also accuses the media of attempting to undermine Venezuela's democracy.

The telecommunications regulator's actions follow a CNN report that passports and visas were being sold illegally in Venezuela's embassy in Iraq. Maduro recently told CNN to "get out" of Venezuela after accusing the news channel of manipulating comments made by a little girl who told him on live television that some of her classmates were fainting from hunger.

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CONATEL Director General Andrés Eloy Méndez on Thursday said CNN en Español has not been and will never will be censored despite alleged violations. He also said he was working with internet service operators to shut down CNN's online feeds.

Citing Venezuela's Law of Social Responsibility in Radio, Television and Electronic Media, CONATEL said since CNN en Español "without evidence and in an inadequate manner and distorted the truth ... this National Telecommunications Commission ordered as a preventive measure the suspension and immediate exit of the news channel CNN en Español in the national territory."

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