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Chavez Turns to Defamation Law to Stem Venezuela Dissent

interns Contributor

Guillermo Zuloaga isn’t exactly a paragon of responsible journalism. In 2002 he and his Venezuelan television network, Globovisión, backed a military coup against democratically elected President Hugo Chávez. Since then, Globovisión has been so gratuitously and vociferously anti-Chávez it makes Rush Limbaugh’s attacks on Barack Obama seem even-handed.

So who could make a media martyr out of a guy like Zuloaga? Chávez may well have done it on March 25, when his left-wing government arrested Zuloaga for making comments “offensive and disrespectful” to the President. Speaking in Aruba the week before, Zuloaga had remarked that it was a shame Chávez wasn’t overthrown in the failed April 2002 coup and said the putsch happened because Chávez had ordered his forces to fire on antigovernment protesters, an opposition charge that has never been proven. Zuloaga went on to argue that Venezuela lacks freedom of expression because Chávez is increasingly harassing independent media, including Globovisión, a network Chávez has repeatedly threatened to shut down. “Chávez,” said Zuloaga, who denies the defamation-against-the-state charge and is now free on bail, “is setting up a disguised communism.”

Full story: Chavez Turns to Defamation Law to Stem Venezuela Dissent – TIME