Venezuela Shuts Down Internet, TV Stations To Stifle Protests

from the i've-seen-this-movie-before dept

At some point, governments around the world are going to start learning that attempting to stifle free speech and communication via protests and the internet is almost always going to backfire on the offending government. Previous iterations of this plotline have been demonstrated in Ukraine, Egypt, and several other Middle East nations that participated in the so-called “Arab Spring.”

Well, welcome to South America, governmental hubris, because there are now reports of the government shutting down the internet in Venezuela, where protests against the government and threats of toppling it have been raging.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation made note that Venezuelans working with several different ISPs lost all connectivity on Thursday of this past week. Users lost connectivity to the major content delivery network Edgecast and the IP address which provides access to Twitter’s image hosting service while another block stopped Venezuelan access to the text-based site Pastebin.

CONATEL director William Castillo suggests that the internet cuts were not due to the protests directly. CONATEL is the country’s media regulation network, and Castillo suggested via Noticias24 that online attacks were being waged. CONATEL, he suggests, blocked linkes “where public sites were being attacked.”

Even though the attempt to shift blame for internet shutdown on outside hack attacks is a very common kind of government bullshit, it might just be believable, if only that same government wasn’t also going around and shutting down television stations that were saying things the government didn’t like. In the case of NTN24, a Venezuelan cable news channel, the government isn’t even trying to pretend the shutdown isn’t politically motivated.

Venezuela’s president said that a Colombia-based cable news channel was ordered to be removed from cable lineups in Venezuela because of its coverage of an antigovernment protest. President Nicolás Maduro said Thursday that the channel, NTN24, had tried to “foment anxiety about a coup d’état.” He said that he gave the order to pull the channel because “No one is going to come from abroad and try to perturb the psychological climate of Venezuela.”

No, no, of course not Senor Maduro, you’re perfectly capable of perturbing the psychological climate of Venezuela all by yourself. As with Egypt, and Tunisia, and most recently Ukraine, this won’t work. In fact, it’s likely again going to have the opposite effect of provoking the protesters even more than they’ve been already. At some point the lesson will eventually be learned that in an era where free speech and citizen press have been expanded exponentially, attempts to shut both down won’t be tolerated.

Perhaps President Maduro would like to speak with Viktor Yanukovych, if he wasn’t in hiding from people on whom he attempted to put these exact same restrictions.

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Comments on “Venezuela Shuts Down Internet, TV Stations To Stifle Protests”

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Ninja (profile) says:

Ch?vez fucked up Venezuelan economy with his “Bolivarian” revolution thing (ie: populism) and now the country is paying a heavy toll. Ch?vez had both the ‘charisma’ and a more favorable scenario to hold onto power as he did. Maduro will eventually fall. Argentina is on the brink also. Courtesy of a corrupt political class that pretends to represent the people (read: the old Left wing).

Amusingly, the other end of the spectrum is just as fucked up (the old Right wing, see the US, UK etc). I wonder where are we heading…

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Maybe not revolutions everywhere.

Just keep the internet going, the reality TV going, the mindless talking heads on the infotainment ‘news’ channels going, and most people will stay asleep. Keep most people a little bit above starvation level and they don’t have time to rebel. Instead of the old Soviet style queues and waiting for hours for basic supplies like razor blades or toilet paper, keep everyone busy with government paperwork. Anyone who complains can be labeled as terrorists. The police need to maintain their proficiency at beating up citizens and watching for unwanted and dangerous cameras pointed their direction.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Not sure what you mean by the old Right Wing in the US, but if you are talking Republicans I hate to inform you but the Dems have been in charge for over 5 years now. They are the ones monitoring every move the citizens make. In fact, they just recently attempted to co-opt the media to try to determine “bias”. Which of course means they want to control Fox news. So if your argument is against the Republicans, it fails miserably. But yes, the Repbubs have their own problems, but they aren’t in control right now.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Oh yea, don’t forget it was the Dems investigating the Fox News report, it was the Dems in control of the IRS targeting of conservative non-profits, it was the Dems lieing and denying about Benghazi, it was the Dems arming the Mexican drug cartels and finally it was the Dems lieing about Obamacare.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I generally stay out of partisan arguments – because they are pointless (ie: new boss is same as the old boss as far as I’m concerned), but I would like to point out the the current administration has also been trying to extricate the US from two sovereign nations that we have invaded with our military because…..because…..wait…..why did we invade Iraq and Afghanistan again?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Sure, the Repbubs have problems as well, but the issue here is the acts of repression, spying, etc of governments. It seemed the OP was somehow implying that the Repubs, who have not been in charge for 5+ years, were somehow perpetrating these things on the US citizenry at this time. Now will they change things if they get back in charge? Probably not, but to imply they are doing any of this stuff right now is without merit.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Ok, let’s put this stupid argument to rest. Both parties are very much in favor of massive spying on the civilian population. There are no clean hands here.

As far as “being in control” goes, I suppose that’s technically true, but it’s an environment where literally anything that the party “in control” tries to do is stonewalled and subverted by all kinds of trickery and nefarious actions. There’s a reason Congress can’t get anything done, and that reason is the republicans making it an overt and openly stated point to make sure that nothing can get done.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Actually, his argument doesn’t fail on Republicans but is more in the selective choosing. Bush and Cheney, along with the Republicans had their heyday as well, pushing these spying situations into being. What Obama did was come along and continue the push.

There isn’t a heck of a lot of difference between the parties when they are in power. Look not for what they say they stand for. Look instead at what they do.

Gerard Pierce says:

Re: Re: Re:

Before Bush left office, he managed to get a number of his “loyal Bushies” inserted as “career” civil servants. These clowns still infest the Justice Department and a lot of them are now part of Volksreich Security.

And the Democrats don’t care because they are owned by the same guys who own the Republicans.

Robert says:

Re: Re: Re:

The CC website is the last place to find any unbiased info.

Over at Dkos, Cindy has a post documenting the use of tweeted pics, supposedly of violence being committed by the government which are proven to be photos taken at protests in Egypt, Spain, Bulgaria, Chile, Greece and even taken from an American adult publication.

Leopoldo L?pez, the man instigating these protests, was also a leader in the attempted coup of Chavez.

Anonymous Coward says:

let’s be sensible here guys. every government, including the so-called pillars of democracy, the USA and the UK, are trying to do the same thing! they are trying to remove just about everything possible from the people to get in place a government based on, supported by if not ruled by corporations! this has been tried before and failed but those who already have more than they could get through moneywise in 100 lifetimes keep on trying. the aim is make slaves out of all ordinary people by removing as many if not all rights while giving those ‘elite few’ everything their black hearts desire! the people in many countries are already awake to this act and are fighting against it. hence the desire to take over the internet, so as to be able to stop the people from finding out what is happening elsewhere, even just up the road in your own country, what moves the government is or are about to try, what disgraceful behavior governments and politicians have been up to and the amount of bribery that has already gone on to ensure votes from politicians to keep particular corporations in the position they want to be in. all this crap about surveillance being necessary to stop terrorism is just that, crap! what the surveillance is for, more tham for anything else, is to know what plans the ordinary people have, what moves they are going to make when and where so that governments can get security forces into place in rediness for any upheaval that may come.
it’s been said many times that the country that rules the Internet will rule the world. why the hell do you think the USA is trying to force so-called ‘Trade Deals’ on to lesser nations? because within those deals are embedded clauses that remove the rights of these other countries and their peoples unless the USA agrees. you dont have to be a friggin’ genius to know what the answer to that would be!!

Anonymous Coward says:

While I haven’t checked today, the Venezuela connection on my VPN worked just fine yesterday. So something is still going there or I would not be able to make a connection.

This doesn’t sound too smart, killing tv and internet to prevent discontent and communications among citizens. What you’ve done is removed their entertainment and replaced it with boredom. I wonder where that leads if you are trying to calm the citizens?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

That would sort of work for distributed social network systems such as Diaspora, serving a local area via wi-fi. Using centralized services requires somewhat more bandwidth to an access point than modems give, but modem technology is useful for getting news out of a country.
Note that Fidonet software is still available, and in use in some remote parts of the world. Its problem is the slower exchanges of messages, requiring a day or two to get a response, rather than a minute or two of the Internet.

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