Former presidents of Peru and Bolivia spoke out against the recent media shutdowns in Venezuela and expressed an overall concern about the media’s future at an emergency meeting of Inter American Press Association (IAPA). At the meeting, held in Caracas on Friday, former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo called the media shutdowns “a virus that’s expanding” and an action taken on by “real authoritarian governments.” Bolivia’s former president, Carlos Mesa, harped on Toledo’s comments saying that “everything that restricts freedom of speech is unacceptable.”
Ecuador closed a television station accused of espionage last month and Bolivia also has closed media outlets. Former Argentine President Nestor Kirchner also recently proposed a law to break up Grupo Clarin, a media conglomerate, calling it a monopoly that has been abusing its power in Argentine politics.
President Hugo Chávez has denied accusations that his government is trying to silence opposition voices. Chávez’ government has announced plans to close 29 more radio stations, in addition to the 32 shut down just last month. The Venezuelan government cites invalid broadcast licenses or a failure to renew licenses as reasons for the closings.