CARACAS – Two private Venezuelan radio stations have stopped broadcasting in recent hours, saying Saturday that President Nicolas Maduro’s government had not renewed their concessions.
Officials with the state-run telecommunications regulator Conatel have not yet confirmed the information, but the president of the Radio Chamber, Enza Carbone, made the government’s decision public in a message to reporters and convened an extraordinary meeting of the chamber’s members.
“I regret to inform you that Conatel notified the stations 92.9 FM in Caracas and Magica 99.1 FM that their concessions were not being renewed and ordered them to cease broadcasting,” Carbone said.
Venezuelan daily El Universal, for its part, reported that the station Corazon Llanero Radio had taken over 92.9 FM’s signal and that Radio Vinotinto FM had begun broadcasting in Magica’s place.
Opposition lawmaker Tomas Guanipa slammed the moves on Twitter, saying that “this government continues to censor and do away with Venezuela’s most emblematic stations.”
Two days ago, the Colombian channels RCN Television and Caracol Television were taken off the air by order of Conatel, which in recent months also has prevented CNN en Español, NTN24, Todo Noticias and Argentina’s Infobae from broadcasting.
The moves come amid a climate of bitter distrust in which Maduro accuses the opposition and the United States of plotting against him and Maduro’s opponents say he is consolidating a dictatorship.
US President Donald Trump has said that his administration would not rule out a military option to address the situation in Venezuela, where months of politically motivated violence this year have left more than 100 dead, including both supporters and opponents of the government.
On Friday, Trump signed an executive order that bars dealings in new debt and equity issued by the Venezuelan government and that nation’s state oil company, PDVSA.
The US and many of Venezuela’s regional neighbors have been harshly critical in recent months of Maduro’s push to create a National Constituent Assembly (ANC).
That plenipotentiary body, which was inaugurated early this month after a process boycotted by Maduro’s opponents, has taken over the functions of the unicameral legislature, the National Assembly, the only institution in the opposition’s control.
Maduro has touted the ANC as necessary to lift Venezuela out of political deadlock and a deep economic crisis.
But Venezuela’s opposition, which has been stymied in its efforts to oust Maduro via a recall referendum, says it is merely a mechanism to increase the president’s stranglehold on power.