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Capriles Starts Internet TV Show to Skirt Venezuela ‘Censorship’

Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles Radonski started a weekly Internet television program today, after alleging that the country’s television stations and newspapers are squeezing him out of their coverage.

It will be the first show hosted by a politician in the Latin American country since the late President Hugo Chavez canceled his Sunday show as he battled cancer.

“All of Us Are Venezuela” will run at 11 a.m. every Tuesday on Capriles’ website and will be interactive, the former presidential candidate said today. Today, the hour-long show was held in a studio where he fielded questions from national and international journalists.

Capriles was labeled a “fascist assassin” by state media following street disturbances after he lost an election in April to Chavez’s handpicked heir Nicolas Maduro by 1.5 percentage points. The government said the protests left nine people dead. The recent sale of private media such as television network Globovision and newspaper chain Cadena Capriles are efforts to “make him invisible” as he contests the result of the election, claiming fraud, Capriles said today.

“What they’re trying to do is make invisible those who have an alternative vision to this government,” Capriles said today. “I’m grateful to the free media, to those who are not allowing themselves to be censored and to journalists who continue to give free information to take note of the program, which will be a window for information.”

Media Control

Until its sale to the owners of Caracas-based insurance company Seguros La Vitalicia, Globovision was the only channel in Venezuela to air speeches by Capriles live. Francisco “Kiko” Bautista, host of a daily chat show at the station, said he was fired by the network for airing a speech by Capriles.

Cadena Capriles, a newspaper chain that includes Venezuela’s best-selling daily Ultimas Noticias, was sold last week to “a well-known Venezuelan investment group,” El Mundo, another newspaper owned by Cadena Capriles, said in a statement on its website on June 4, without giving further details.

Chavez, who died of cancer March 5 after winning a third re-election in October, started a show known as ‘Hello President’ in May 1999 so he could “express himself without limit” and “to give the voiceless a voice,” according to the show’s website. The program, which traveled around the country and in its early years featured spontaneous phone-ins from Venezuelans, became better-known for long monologues by Chavez.

War Planes

The first program, held at the studios of state radio station Radio Nacional de Venezuela, featured a question-and-answer session between Chavez and two journalists and lasted an hour. The longest program, in September 2007, lasted eight hours and seven minutes, according to the show’s website.

The last program was made on January 29, 2012, after which Chavez canceled the show as he traveled to Cuba for cancer treatment. Since his death, state television has aired re-runs of the show on Sundays.

Capriles said today he will send a letter to Pope Francis ahead of a meeting at the Vatican scheduled with Maduro so that the pope can inform him about the contested election. He also joked about an accusation by Maduro that the opposition bought 18 fighter planes in Colombia as they plan to topple his government.

“Maybe I’ll lend one of those planes to Maduro so he can fly to Rome,” Capriles said.

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