Caracas attacks Spain over TV channel shutdown

22nd June 2007, Comments 0 comments

22 June 2007, CARACAS - Venezuela's top diplomat accused Spain of interfering in the South American nation's domestic affairs, saying Madrid had no business trying to give Venezuelans "democracy lessons."

22 June 2007

CARACAS - Venezuela's top diplomat accused Spain of interfering in the South American nation's domestic affairs, saying Madrid had no business trying to give Venezuelans "democracy lessons."

In a statement, Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro said Spain cannot "continue meddling in our people's affairs" by asking Venezuela to reconsider a decision by President Hugo Chavez that forced an opposition-sided television station off the air.

"Nobody can attempt to tutor us, give us democracy lessons," Maduro said.

Chavez refused to renew the license of Radio Caracas Television, or RCTV, forcing the TV station off the air last month. The decision sparked street protests in Venezuela's capital and condemnation from press-freedom groups and international human rights organizations.

During a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice earlier this month, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said "all Venezuelans who want to use news spaces should have guarantees in regard of freedom of information and expression."

Chavez accused RCTV of inciting a failed 2002 coup, violating broadcast laws and "poisoning" Venezuelans with soap operas that promoted capitalism. He said his decision to replace it with a new state-funded public channel is a step toward "democratizing" the airwaves.

Chavez _ a close ally of Cuban leader Fidel Castro _ says Washington is using the issue of press freedoms in Venezuela to wage an international smear campaign against his government. The U.S. government rejects the allegations, but has expressed concern that Chavez is trying to muzzle his political adversaries.

[Copyright AP with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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