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Venezuela’s last opposition station on notice

From Reuters

As tens of thousands of people marched here Tuesday in protest of President Hugo Chavez’s closure of opposition television station RCTV, the leftist leader called the news channel Globovision an enemy of the state.

The protests were in their fourth consecutive day, but state television showed hundreds of government supporters marching in downtown Caracas to celebrate Chavez’s move.

“Enemies of the homeland, particularly those behind the scenes, I will give you a name: Globovision. Greetings gentlemen of Globovision, you should watch where you are going,” Chavez said in a broadcast that all channels were required to show.

“I recommend you take a tranquilizer and get into gear, because if not, I am going to do what is necessary,” he added.

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Chavez accused Globovision of trying to incite his assassination and of misreporting protests over the closure of Radio Caracas Television in a manner that could whip up a situation similar to a coup attempt against him in 2002.

Globovision is the last main opposition media outlet in the nation, but it does not have nationwide coverage. Its director-general, Alberto Ravell, said the charges against his channel were ridiculous but that he was worried by the government’s offensive.

Referring to RCTV, Ravell said: “If this government, with one stroke of the pen, closed the oldest television station in the country, that has been on the air for 53 years, how will it not be able to shut this station which is far smaller?”

“This is a country with a single party and a single trade union,” he added. “Now it appears there is going to be a single channel.”

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