Venezuela shuts down radio program indefinitely

On May 7, 2014, the Venezuelan telecommunications regulator CONATEL ordered the suspension of “Plomo Parejo,” a news and opinion radio program that had been extremely critical of the country’s socialist government, according to news reports

“Plomo Parejo,” roughly translated as “always critical,” has broadcast on weekdays on the popular AM station Radio Caracas Radio, or RCR, since 2000. It was hosted by Iván Ballesteros, a former member of the Venezuelan armed forces and a vocal critic of the late socialist leader Hugo Chávez, as well as current President Nicolas Maduro, according to reports.

In a statement, CONATEL said it was launching an administrative investigation into the program, citing complaints from several pro-government consumer organizations. The regulator said the program may have violated two articles from Venezuela’s controversial Law of Social Responsibility for Radio, TV and Electronic Media, which prohibit the dissemination of information that promotes hatred, incites or defends criminal acts, constitutes war propaganda, or alters public order. The statement did not cite specific examples of the alleged violations.

CONATEL ordered the program off the air starting on May 8, 2014. “Plomo Parejo” must remain off the air for the duration of the CONATEL investigation, which could last from several months to several years, Carlos Correa, who heads the Caracas-based press freedom organization Espacio Publico, told CPJ.

“Plomo Parejo” had staunchly supported student-led anti-government protests that broke out in February. The ongoing demonstrations have led to clashes with state security forces and the deaths of more than 40 people.