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Chávez ratchets up threats against media

President Hugo Chávez has stepped up his ongoing bullying campaign against critical media in the country. This time, he's demanded officials either take action against the media that "poison" Venezuela or resign.

In a broadcast on his radio and television show, "Aló Presidente," Chávez said, "Carry out your duty - that's why you are there; otherwise resign and let someone with courage take over." Chávez directed this message at Attorney General Luisa Ortega Díaz, Minister of Public Works and Housing Diosdado Cabello and the Supreme Tribunal of Justice, reports the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

"By threatening direct action against the media, President Chávez is overstepping his authority and ratcheting up his efforts to stifle dissent," said CPJ Americas Senior Program Coordinator Carlos Lauría. "We call on Chávez to put an end to this systematic campaign of harassment against the media."

CPJ, Institute for Press and Society (IPYS), the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) also expressed concern about the charges TV news station Globovisión faces as a result its coverage of last month's earthquake.

Globovisión was the first outlet to report on a 5.4 magnitude earthquake that shook Caracas in early May. The channel was raided last month, accused of having breached Article 29 of the Law on Social Responsibility in Radio and Television, which makes it an offence for media to "promote, justify or incite war; promote, justify or incite disruption of public order".

With the closure of Radio Caracas Televisión (RCTV) in 2007 and the softening stance of the other two private networks Televén and Venevisión in recent years, Globovisión is the only television station left to effectively criticise the government.

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