Venezuela on Wednesday pulled the plug on CNN en Español — shutting down the cable news network just days after President Nicolás Maduro had accused the station of meddling in Venezuelan affairs.
In a statement, the National Telecommunications Commission, Conatel, said the channel’s coverage represented “direct aggressions against the peace and democratic stability” of the country and “generated an environment of intolerance.”
Conatel said it was opening an investigation into CNN en Español and had ordered all cable operators to suspend broadcasts. The decision, if it sticks, represents a further chokehold on independent media in the socialist country.
In 2014, the government shutdown NTN24, a Colombian-based news channel. At the time it also revoked the press passes of four CNN journalists. Other opposition outlets have been silenced more subtly: seeing their newsprint supply restricted or being bought out by parties more amenable to the government. More recently, foreign journalists have been detained, including two Brazilian reporters over the weekend, and others have been denied visas to work in the country
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CNN en Español had drawn Maduro’s ire with an in-depth investigation that accused government officials of providing Venezuelan passports and travel documents to suspected members of Islamist terrorist organizations.
The government has denied the claim, and during his regular Sunday television show, Maduro accused CNN of “manipulating” information.
“CNN don’t stick your nose into Venezuela’s business,” he said. “I want CNN a long way from here; out CNN.”
The move comes amid escalating U.S.-Venezuela tension. On Monday, the U.S. Treasury Department slapped sanctions on Vice President Tareck El Aisammi, accusing him of being part of an international drug trafficking ring. They also froze his access to a fortune estimated at $3 billion after a lengthy investigation of his alleged links to drug traffickers.
Venezuela has called those allegations a “grotesque lie” and has asked for an apology.