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.