Venezuela’s government said it revoked the credentials for CNN’s main reporter in the country as President Nicolas Maduro seeks to crack down on nine-day-old protests that have led to eight deaths.
Reporter Patricia Janoit and at least three other CNN journalists had their accreditations revoked, according to the news channel and the government. Maduro said the network was misreporting the political crisis in the country, a week after he took Colombian television channel NTN24 off the air following its coverage of the demonstrations.
"CNN en Espanol has reported both sides of the tense situation in Venezuela, although with very limited access to government officials," the network said in a statement on its website. "We hope the government reconsiders its decision."
The move comes as pro-government and opposition supporters prepare for weekend rallies and Maduro rival Leopoldo Lopez remains in a military prison on charges he incited violence. The streets of Caracas were strewn with burnt trash this morning as people flocked to stores to stock up ahead of more demonstrations, which typically take place at night.
Economy Vice President Rafael Ramirez said today in a post on his Twitter account that the government may suspend the delivery of gasoline in zones under "fascist attack."
Maduro said he would hold a news conference at 6 p.m. local time (5:30 p.m. EST). Yesterday he called on women to take to the streets across Venezuela tomorrow in support of the government while opposition leaders planned more rallies. Opposition Mayor David Smolansky called for "massive" demonstrations today and tomorrow and said arrest warrants had been issued for other leaders of Lopez’s Voluntad Popular party.
Opposition Governor Henrique Capriles, in an interview on CNN en Espanol yesterday, said the student-led protests need to appeal to poorer Venezuelans who traditionally back the government if they want to succeed.
"If we don’t connect with the people that live in the slums of Venezuela, with the humblest people, the poor, there is no changing this regime," said Capriles, who lost to Maduro last April in Venezuela’s closest presidential election in 45 years. "The only chance we have at change is to create a very broad movement."
Demonstrations since Feb. 12 have left 8 people dead and another 137 injured, according to government reports. Maduro, addressing the nation in front of the presidential palace yesterday, vowed to bring "fascist" rioters in the streets to justice.
"We’re going to catch them one by one," Maduro said as he interviewed bus drivers who said they were attacked while working this week. "The people want justice."
Lopez could face 10 years in prison if found guilty of inciting violence and burning a public building, his lawyer Bernardo Pulido said in an interview.
"A thin line has been crossed that separated what was a polarized country from a violent country," said Javier Ciurlizza, director of Latin America and Caribbean issues at the International Crisis Group. "The deaths since Feb. 12, government assaults on civil liberties, protesters and the opposition are creating a worrying spiral of violence from which Venezuela will find it difficult to recover."
On Feb. 19 Maduro called on Capriles and other opposition leaders to meet him Feb. 24, saying it was their "last chance."
Struggling to rein in 56 percent inflation and a shortage of basic goods and medicines, Maduro this week announced plans to import $1 billion in food and medicine and to unveil a new currency auction system designed to help companies and individuals have more access to dollars. Ramirez canceled a news conference today where he was expected to give details about the new law.
Amid the political turmoil, Venezuelan bonds have posted the biggest losses in emerging markets this year after Ukraine, losing 11 percent, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s EMBIG index.
© Copyright 2014 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.