Alexis Ramírez: Grand Media Inquisitor

Mérida State Governor Alexis Ramírez

The Chavista onslaught against independent media (domestic or foreign) has been escalating pretty quickly: Nicolás Maduro has now accused CNN en Español of promoting a coup against him and putting Venezuela to shame.

This just after Maracaibo TV channel ATEL was taken off the air last week by the broadcasting authority, CONATEL, to block its possible sale.

It seems like in the wake of the recent sale of Globovision to government cronies, the government wants to intensify its crackdown on independent media outlets. But some middle-ranking Chavistas want to go even further and go right after the journalists themselves.

A case in point:

In Mérida, radio host and independent correspondent Leonardo León said on his show that the motorcycle gangs that attacked the ULA Medical Center (CAMIULA) back on April 16th were not stopped by the local police. Five days earlier, supporters of Henrique Capriles were attacked after his last electoral rally there by thugs in motorcycles.

Governor Alexis Ramírez responded to the allegations by going to the courts: he brought a complaint for defamation against León and a tribunal will hear the case.

When Ramírez took his post last December, he took a page out of Rafael Correa’s playbook and ordered to all government officials to refrain from talking to the media. But that wasn’t enough for him and earlier this month he created something called the General Staff of Comunications. What’s that, you might ask? It’s an official entity that will monitor the work of local media and makes sure it “adjusted to the law”, as the ghastly Orwellian euphemism has it.

Governor Ramírez has declared himself judge and jury of journalism. Now he’s also the executioner.