WashTimes: Ecuador, Bolivia Join Hugo Chavez in Media Crackdown

Washington Times reporter Martin Arostegui has an excellent article in today's paper about the socialist leaders of two South American countries following Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez's example by moving to restrict press freedoms in their respective countries. By contrast, the news didn't even meake the "World in Brief" digest on page A16 of today's Washington Post:

SANTA CRUZ, Bolivia -- The leaders of Bolivia and Ecuador are moving with Cuban encouragement and in concert with their mentor, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, to restrict press freedom in their countries.

Bolivian President Evo Morales and Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa both announced steps to crack down on independent broadcasters within days of Mr. Chavez's closure on Sunday of Venezuela's main independent television station, RCTV.

Speaking before an international gathering of leftist intellectuals in Cochabamba last week, Mr. Morales proposed creating a tribunal to oversee the operations of privately owned press and broadcast outlets. Mr. Correa announced over the weekend that he would order a review of the broadcasting licenses of opposition news channels in his country.

Both leaders have drawn support and inspiration from Mr. Chavez's increasingly authoritarian government since coming to power in the past 18 months, and both are drafting new constitutions that would greatly increase their own powers.

Mr. Correa has ousted 51 opposition deputies from his nation's Congress and Mr. Morales this week ordered the arrests of four high court judges after they issued rulings that challenged his government.

The Post wasn't alone in ignoring Morales's authoritarian steps to restrict freedom of the press and jail dissidents. A search for "Evo Morales" this morning on the New York Times Web site yielded nothing on those measures, although there is a link to an AP story on Morales' ire over a FIFA ruling banning soccer matches held at high altitudes.

TimesWatch.org editor and NewsBusters contributor Clay Waters appeared on Tuesday's "Your World with Neil Cavuto" to discuss the Times' lack of interest in the Venezuelan media crackdown. For an NB post with video of that appearance, click here.

Thor Halvorssen's Human Rights Foundation has more reporting on the socialist crackdowns in South America here.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters