Chavez calls for more internet controls

Anti-American pin-up and Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez wants to clamp down on the World Wide Wibble in his country.

This week he called for the regulation of the Internet and singled out a website that he said falsely reported the murder of one of his ministers.

According to Reuters, Chavez said that the Internet cannot be something open where anything is said and done. Every country has to apply its own rules and norms.

He said such thoughts were ok because he heard German Chancellor Angela Merkel as saying that it the internet needed policing just the other day.

Chavez does not like it when people say nasty things about him and his party. This call for regulation comes ater a Venezuelan political opinion and gossip website Noticierodigital, which he said had falsely written that Diosdado Cabello, a senior minister and close aide, had been assassinated. The president said the story remained on the site for two days.

Chavez said that such reporting was a crime and the website periodically publishes stories calling for a coup d’etat. That cannot be permitted.”

However it seems that Chavez’s grip on power is slipping. Although he came to power on the back of popular support, he has been unable to deliver on most of his promises to the great unwashed.

Social notworking web sites like Twitter and Facebook are very popular among Venezuela’s opposition movements to organize protests against the government. Chavez has complained that people use such sites to spread unfounded rumours.

Venezuelan opposition groups fear that he might try to use similar controls over the web which are used by his chums Cuba, China and Iran.

To be fair, he has not tried that yet. However he has been very hard on traditional media controlled by opposition groups. In 2007 Chavez refused to renew the license for television station RCTV, which is now battling to survive as a cable-only operator.

He also pressured an opposition TV network Globovision to soften its editorial line and last year closed dozens of radio stations for “administrative breaches”.