[2/15/17] Two days ago, we reported that Venezuela’s President Maduro threatened to take CNN off the air as a result of accusations it was spreading propaganda and “fake news.” Well, it is now official because as AP reports, Venezuela’s government has officially suspended CNN in Spanish, shutting off the news channel after a report on fraudulent passports that drew angry criticism from officials.
The country’s National Telecommunications Commission announced Wednesday that it initiated the “administrative sanction” because of news stories it considered “direct aggressions” against Venezuela.
As we explained on Monday, over the weekend Maduro said he wanted CNN out of the country, accusing it of spreading fake news, misrepresenting the truth and meddling in issues that are not of its concern. According to a PanAmPost report, Maduro’s anger was the result of a student demand on national television that the president improve the conditions of his school, asking for security, infrastructure and food so his classmates wouldn’t faint from hunger anymore. CNN en Español visited the high school and talked with the staff about the student, and whether Maduro had made any improvements since that incident only to discover he had not.
Maduro said the young woman “uncovered a situation that had to be spoken about” adding that “I want the youth to tell the truth, to be critical and revolutionary, for us to go to solve the problems,” he said. “To attend to those problems, we must build a sense of belonging in each school. Lyceum belongs to me and I must take care of it.”
The demand for CNN to leave the country also came a few days after CNN en Espanol broadcast and posted online an in-depth investigation into how officials of the Venezuelan Embassy in Iraq allegedly sold Venezuelan passports and visas to suspected terrorists. “Passports in the Shadows” was the result of a yearlong investigation showcasing an account by a whistleblower, a former legal adviser to the Venezuelan embassy in Baghdad, and the government officials’ dismissal of the allegations.
The National Telecommunications Commission did not specifically mention the passport story or the school situation, but earlier in the day other government officials held a news conference to dispute the CNN story.