Venezuelan dictator takes next step in isolating his nation

Whenever dictators rise to power one of the first steps they generally take is to assert control over the media. After all, you don’t want stories circulating among the people which are critical of your various abuses. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is no exception to this rule, and he quickly moved to shut down two of the nation’s remaining radio stations which had aired stories critical of his takeover. (Associated Press)

Authorities have shut down two radio stations that aired critical coverage of President Nicolas Maduro’s government by refusing to renew their licenses, a broadcast executive announced, as the country staged military exercises in defiance of Washington and new U.S. sanctions.

Enza Carbone, president of the country’s Radio Chamber, said late Friday in a statement that the National Telecommunications Commission did not renew the stations’ permits when they expired and ordered them to cease transmitting.

The National Media Workers’ Union accused the government of taking “arbitrary” action and violating freedom of expression.

Two days earlier, Maduro ordered cable television carriers to stop offering a couple of stations from Columbia which also broadcast “wrong thinking” news. This is precisely the same pattern we saw in Turkey last year after the failed coup attempt when Recep Tayyip Erdogan began imprisoning journalists by the hundreds and closing down newspapers who printed unfavorable analysis of his regime.

The end game of a strategy such as this can be seen in North Korea today. There is no media (aside from some black market radio from across the border) except for the state operated television and radio networks. Rather than news or any sort of informed discussion, citizens who can somehow afford a television or radio (and they are few in number) are treated to a non-stop flow of approved government propaganda designed to lionize the leadership and condemn the west as enemies.

So what, if anything, will the rest of the world do about Maduro? Our United Nations Ambassador, Nikki Haley, came out this week with yet another forceful condemnation, asserting that the United States would not “tolerate” a dictatorship in Venezuela. (Reuters)

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Friday that U.S. sanctions against Venezuela were a strong message to President Nicolas Maduro that the United States would not tolerate a “dictatorship” in that country.

Haley, speaking at United Nations headquarters in New York, said she had not been asked to meet at the UN with visiting Venezuelan foreign minister Jorge Arreaza.

It’s a noble message, but at this point the dictator ship has sailed, if you’ll pardon the pun. The former government is all but dissolved. Maduro’s new assembly of sycophants has usurped all the powers of the legislature and they’re just rewriting the laws of the country to reflect the President’s whims on the fly. Their Supreme Court is packed with Maduro loyalists. Armed militias roam the streets beating down and in some cases murdering protesters and members of the opposition party are quickly filling Maduro’s prisons to overflowing.

I’m not sure how many more things or people we could really sanction at this point. None of it is dissuading Maduro. We may not want to “tolerate” a dictatorship in Venezuela, but we’ve most certainly got one.

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