The NGO Espacio Público (EP) said this week that at least 285 radio stations have been closed by the communist Venezuelan regime in the last 20 years, causing a loss of approximately 20,000 direct and indirect jobs and nearly two dozen free speech channels.
From 2003 to 2022, 285 stations closed on the instructions of the National Telecommunications Commission (Conatel), an organization directed by the Venezuelan regime that exercises regulation, supervision and control over telecommunications, according to Carlos Correa, director of the organization.
The closures, which represent approximately 25% of all radio stations in the country, were due to orders from public officials for broadcasting criticism of the regime or for operating some type of irregularity, according to Correa, recalling that in 2022 alone, some 5,000 people lost their jobs after Conatel closed 85 stations.
The director of EP argued that many of the stations’ licenses expired and that Conatel did not wanted to update them despite the fact that they presented all their documentation and complied with their efforts to avoid closure.
Correa said that Conatel seeks to reorganize the radio space ahead of the 2024 elections so as not to have the media criticize the management of the regime and warned that there are “groups that buy the stations to turn them in favor of the ruling party.”
Espacio Público shared a report in January detailing that a total of 470 violations of freedom of expression were recorded in Venezuela during 2022, indicating that restrictions to disseminate information continue to be one of Maduro’s most focused objectives, in addition to controlling information “in the midst of of the complex humanitarian crisis, creating another obstacle in which fundamental rights are not guaranteed.”