Radio silence in Amazonas

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After 27 years, La Voz del Orinoco was shut by the government down last September
After 27 years on the air, La Voz del Orinoco 98.5 FM was shut down by the government last month.

This article from daily Tal Cual offers some details about the aftermath of the communicational hegemony’s recent offensive… deep down in Amazonas State.

In the last month, CONATEL has shut down four local radio stations, including La Voz del Orinoco FM, which was the main media outlet for the State’s opposition-controlled government.

The alleged reasons behind those actions were of legal nature, but in the case of La Voz del Orinoco, it was closed for “broadcasting messages of hate and calls to rebelion”.

A little bit of context is in order. Last month, there was a serious incident regarding the Grand Hotel Amazonas, which was owned by the state government. The Tourism Ministry, accompanied by an administrative judge and heavy military support, took over the hotel’s premises.

A large protest materialized, and clashes between demostrators and soldiers followed. Tourism Minister Andres Izarra accused Governor Liborio Guarulla of causing the riots and “kidnapping” the judge. The GHA Hotel is now part of the federal government’s Venetur hotel chain. So much for protesting…

These events were the immediate predecessors of CONATEL’s order to shut down the radio stations. For Governor Guarulla, this decision is all about silencing voices of dissent in the region.

In the meantime, other closed radio stations blame CONATEL’s inaction as the cause of their misfortune. For example, Darío Mirabal, director of Deportiva del Sur 99.9 FM, complained that he repeatedly requested the license without getting any formal answer. Augusto España, director of Shamánika 101.1 FM said that even if the station made its request in 2009 and was later inspected twice, the license was never delivered.

The main consequence of the shudown is a radical change in Amazonas’s media landscape. Only three non-hegemony radio stations remain on the air – two privately owned ones, and one which belongs to the Apostolic Vicar of Puerto Ayacucho, which also runs the local TV station Amavision. Meanwhile, the hegemony now has more local presence thanks to two local stations (one affiliated with the military) and six community radios.

1 COMMENT

  1. And no comments for this one? As I once wrote: Amazonas, state of oblivion.
    It is a pity: Atabapo and Autana clearly voted for the opposition last April,
    the state is massively suffering from the illegal mining and garimpeiros and smuggling
    produced by the mismanagement and they don’t get much attention from the capital.
    Although the state is very thinly populated, if we could clearly get it on our side there would be a
    very clear signal next time election results are shown as a map (if elections take place)

  2. Too bad for fans of Voz del Orinoco.

    I can imagine that a sparsely populated state like Amazonas is more than just a microcosm of the country, in addition to its unique features regarding economic and social conditions you are likely to see more extreme politics (think of the USA analogue Alaska) and particularly it should be easier to quash dissent there. So I would see it as a petri dish in which the methods and effects of the “bolivarian” experiment are more easily dissected.

    So I am actually not familiar with radio stations generally in Venezuela- are there national cadenas or is most of the action local?

  3. Again, it’d be pretty cool to aggregate data on media shutdowns/openings (their date, tendency, reasons for shutdown, etc). It would make it much easier to visualize the communicational hegemony and maybe get more non-Venezuelans to take note of the issue (I feel like most people brush it off as “oh, a newspaper shut down, whatever”).

    • The Venezuela Press Association most definitely has the complete list, as well as other regional groups like the Inter American Press association. You can also call it the Obituaries…

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