Gagging the Snail

Just minutes before midnight last night, Colombian TV channel Caracol Internacional was taken off the Venezuelan cable and satellite carriers by orders of regulator CONATEL.

The number of international channels the hegemony has forced off of pay TV grids this year alone has reached four, joining CNN en Español, fellow Colombian channel El Tiempo TV and Argentinean news channel Todo Noticias (TN).

For months, there were constant rumors about the fate of Caracol, given its deep coverage of the recent wave of protests and the overall crisis (which has a serious impact on Colombia).

But in the last few hours, those rumors became more credible, specially after Nicolás Maduro attacked Juan Manuel Santos over having offered asylum to deposed Prosecutor General, Luisa Ortega Díaz. Parallel Prosecutor General Tarek William Saab joined in the chorus, calling Colombia an “epicenter of the international conspiracy against Venezuela.”

President Santos condemned CONATEL’s action as “another demonstration of a regime that doesn’t like liberties and is restricting its citizens’.” Across the border, Venezuelan journalists and opposition politicians repudiated Caracol’s exit from Venezuelan TV as well.
Earlier news reports indicated that the signal of RCN TV was also taken off the air, but a recent statement released by the Colombian channel in solidarity with Caracol didn’t mention it. Nevertheless, a recent dispatch by Spanish news agency EFE said that RCN’s signal would be shut soon.

RCN has already had its share of run-ins with Venezuela’s Censorship State as well. Its news channel NTN24 was the first foreign broadcaster kicked off cable grids by CONATEL during the February 2014 protests. And earlier this year, the channel was censored during the broadcast of the controversial TV series about the late Hugo Chavez, “El Comandante.

As a journalist, I offer my full solidarity to Caracol and its audience during these difficult times. Caracol has constantly excelled in its coverage of Venezuela and will be sorely missed — and I’m not just saying that because my mom is a big fan of Padre Linero!

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