Hugo Chavez does not like criticism any more than does Barack Obama. He has gone after media which are critical of him, shutting down 34 radio stations that have been critical of him. However yesterday, suppression of dissident voices became violent, as a pro-government group attacked Globovision, a television network that has been critical. El Universal, an anti-Chavez newspaper reports:
A group of pro-government demonstrators, among them the political leader Lina Ron, went to the headquarters of the independent TV news channel Globovisión in the neighborhood of La Florida, northeast Caracas, and fired tear gas against the building of the TV station.
María Fernanda Flores, who is a member of Globovisión's board of directors, reported that the pro-government group entered the premises of the channel (although they never entered the offices and studios) at gunpoint and when they were inside the building they fired tear gas against people who were in the yard of the building.
"Approximately 30 motorcycle drivers led by Lina Ron burst in the premises of the TV channel, broke the gate in a brute force attack, opened the main door, and put down the staff with firearms, and used two hand grenades. One of the members of our staff was injured in the hand and his clothes were burnt," said an employee of the private TV channel.
Globovision's Spanish language website features video of the attack here. According to blogger Maru Angarita,
... immediately following the violent attack in Globovision Venezuela suffered a nationwide four-hour electrical blackout which citizens accuse Chavez of manipulating to avoid the spread of the news.
As we witness continued attacks on conservative media, with threats of regulatory harassment of talk radio, keep in mind that thin-skinned tyrants sometimes use mob violence to accomplish what the political system will not permit.
Since President Obama has such a warm relationship with Hugo Chavez, symbolized by their famous variant on the customary diplomatic handshake, I hope that the President will express his dismay over events in Venezuela suppressing the free speech of his friend's opponents.