Venezuela kicks CNN en Español out of the country three days after President Maduro said he wanted it to leave
By Paola Nalvarte, Teresa Mioli and Silvia Higuera
This story has been updated to include the Venezuelan government's plans to block CNN on the internet
Venezuela’s National Telecommunications Commission (Conatel) has ordered the suspension of CNN en Español and has kicked the network out of the country. Additionally, Andrés Eloy Méndez González, director general of the entity, said on Feb. 16 that the network will also be blocked on the internet.
Conatel, which announced that it began an administrative sanctioning procedure and precautionary measures against the news network, reported these “preventive measures” in a press release from Méndez on Feb. 15.
— Conatel Venezuela (@Conatel) February 15, 2017
This comes three days after President Nicólas Maduro made a statement during a rally in which he said he wanted CNN en Español out of the country and hours after Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez said the outlet was conducting “an imperial media operation” against Venezuela with a story on alleged passport trafficking.
Conatel said the sanctioning procedure is due to content being disseminated by CNN en Español in a “systematic and repeated way in the development of its daily programming, which clearly and perceptibly reveals content that allegedly constitutes direct attacks that undermine peace and democratic stability of our Venezuelan people, since they generate a climate of intolerance.” The entity said the organization distorted the truth, incited aggression against Venezuela and therefore violated constitutional guarantees.
At the end of the announcement, Conatel urged media and media professionals to offer “accurate and timely information, adjusted to the values of Venezuelan society.”
El Pitazo reported that CNN en Español's signal began to disappear from private cable starting around 5 p.m.
In response to the blockade, CNN en Español said that it “will continue to fulfill its commitment to the Venezuelan public by offering our television signal for free on YouTube and links to our news stories on CNNEspanol.com, so that they have access to information that is not available any other way.”
— CNN en Español (@CNNEE) February 15, 2017
However, the following day, director general Méndez said on state channel VTV that management was coordinating with internet service providers to block CNN en Español on the internet, according to El Pitazo. He also said the channel has not been and will not be censored in Venezuela, the site reported.
On Feb. 12, Maduro said on VTV, “Do not get into the affairs of Venezuelans. I want CNN far away from here. CNN get out of Venezuela,” reported site Clases de Periodismo.
Maduro said that the U.S. network did not show “the real Venezuela,” and that it misrepresents the country’s news, according to the site.
Maduro referred to CNN’s report on the claim of a Venezuelan student who denounced the scarcity of materials at her school, according to El Nuevo Herald.
Another report that Maduro denounced as having been manipulated by CNN was related to the alleged trafficking of Venezuelan passports in the Middle East, according to Clases de Periodismo.
According to CNN, that investigation allegedly implicates officials of the Venezuelan embassy in Iraq, as well as the current Vice President of Venezuela, Tareck El Aissami. It also cites a confidential report that allegedly says people in the Middle East with ties to a terrorist group were given Venezuelan passports and IDs.
In the report, CNN explains a team went to Caracas in June 2015 to ask questions for their investigations. The report says the government told them via a letter that their coverage was restricted to “tourism, weather, alternative energy sources and relations among the different government institutions in Venezuela.” The outlet said a “government official told the CNN en Español team that any questions about the passport allegations would be grounds for expulsion from the country.”
At a press conference on Feb. 15, before the announcement by Conatel, Minister Rodríguez said she asked authorities to act against CNN and “stressed that the investigation coincided with the presentation of Senator Marco Rubio to the U.S. Congress, where he denounced the sale of Venezuelan passports and visas to people related to drug trafficking and terrorist groups,” according to Efecto Cocuyo.
On Feb. 13, the U.S. Treasury Department accused El Aissami of being directly involved in drug trafficking and imposed sanctions on him, The Washington Post reported. In turn, the vice president of Venezuela called it a “vile aggression.” On the same day, Rubio said at the U.S. Senate, “it is outrageous that the vice president of a country in our hemisphere is not only a drug trafficker but also in the business of selling passports and travel documents to people with ties to terrorism,” El Nuevo Herald reported.
In response to Rodríguez, CNN said they wanted to be clear that the U.S. sanctions for drug trafficking and complaints from their investigation on irregularities in Venezuelan documents are separate. The media outlet defended the investigation, saying they spent more than a year reporting, according to Efecto Cocuyo.
CNN International is still on air in Venezuela, according to the network.
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