by Shayn Furthur

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavas made good on his word and shut down Radio Caracas Television, Venezuela’s oldest private television network. Within half an hour the station was replaced by Tves, a public station. For the last week protests have rocked the capital, with supporters’ of the station taking to the streets.

Chavez accuses Radio Caracas Television (RCTV) with supporting the attempted coup of his presidency in 2002. Since then hostility between his Bolivar movement and RCTV have grown. The process of RCTV losing its’ licence began on December 8th 2006, when Chavez announced that his government would not renew the networks’ licence. A subsequent appeal by the station to the Venezuelan Supreme Court was rejected on May 17th.

On May 19th, approximately 30,000 protestors took to the streets in support of RCTV in Caracas, with smaller marches taking place in Maracaibo and Valencia.

University students and journalists led subsequent marches in the days leading up to the shutdown on May 28th. The day before, confrontations between protestors and the police in front of the National Council of Telecommunications became violent, with 11 police officers reporting injuries.

In the aftermath of the shutdown, thousands of protestors remained on the streets of Caracas, with marches against the Chavez governments’ decision. The marches on the 28th and the 29th have been relatively peaceful, despite the national guard and police continued presence.

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