Attacks on the Press
Several worrying legal developments in Venezuela curtailed press freedom in 2004. In particular, a new broadcast media law could be used to restrict news coverage critical of the government.
Conflict between President Hugo Chávez Frías and the private media continued in 2004. Soon after Chávez was elected in 1998 on promises of a "democratic revolution" and radical reform, the press aligned itself with the opposition, whose vision for the future of Venezuela severely conflicted with Chávez's. Because many opposition parties were disorganized or discredited, the media helped fill the void and became one of the most powerful sources of government opposition. Chávez has often blasted the private press and accused media owners of being "coup-plotters," "fascists," and "terrorists." He has also threatened to shut down private TV channels' broadcasts, and his government has used state-owned media as a counterweight to private media. Private media, meanwhile, have often openly promoted the agenda of opposition parties.