Chavez’s rule has resulted in a worrying erosion of free speech. This limiting of free speech has been achieved through government discrimination against opposition media outlets and the creation of an atmosphere that increasingly demands self-censorship.
From a legal perspective, this limiting of free speech includes laws that criminalize “disrespect” for high-ranking government officials, as well as the government’s passage of legislation that allows it to arbitrarily revoke the broadcast rights for television and radio stations for what has been labeled “incitement”. This latter piece of legislation has been expanded to include the Internet.
In 2009 alone the government shuttered 32 radio stations. This has led numerous other stations to refrain from producing content critical of the Chavez government. The same phenomenon has struck the country’s television stations, with the most well known opposition station RCTV being kicked off the air in 2007 and its successor shut down in 2010. Other stations critical of Chavez have faced stiff penalties for seemingly trivial reasons.