Venezuela to Impose Social Media Restrictions

EspañolOn Thursday, March 26, Venezuela’s attorney general announced a forthcoming bill to “regulate social media,” amid rumors of kidnappings of children across the country which the opposition claim are staged by the government.

“Human behaviour in society must be regulated,” said Attorney General Luisa Ortega Díaz, but denying that the initiative sought to “restrict free speech.”

On Tuesday, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro asked government communication officers to observe media outlets for erroneous reports on the alleged kidnappings.

Communication Minister Jackeline Farías said on Thursday that there are no open investigations against any media outlet for disseminating false rumors. According to unidentified social media reports and telephone tip-offs, criminal groups are kidnapping children from school areas.

On Wednesday, hundreds of drivers blocked the streets of Caracas to protest against the alleged kidnapping and murder of children in the slum of Petare, one of Venezuela’s most violent areas. Both national and local government officials denied any kidnappings.

Motorizados protestaron contra presunto rapto de niños, y el Gobierno anunció medidas contra los rumores (Yoyopress)
Residents of the Petare slum blocked the streets after rumors about child kidnappings spread. (Yoyopress)

President Maduro pointed the finger at opposition members for “sowing rumors” to create a “psychological war” as part of a “coup” against his government.

He blamed the rumors on Carlos Ocariz, mayor of Sucre township in Caracas where Petare is located, and political advisor Juan José Rendón, who, according to the president, manages a Miami-based campaign against his government.

“All the guilty people should be jailed, they’re already under investigation,” he said.

Government supporters claiming to be mothers took to the streets on Friday and marched to the Attorney General’s Office to publicly reject the rumors.

The government claimed that three individuals paid an Ecuadorian national to disseminate the rumor that her son was kidnapped near a school in Caracas.

Jesús Torrealba, head of the opposition coalition Democratic Unity Roundtable, argued that Maduro had created the rumor campaign to justify a power grab over social media, but that his administration was on its way out.

“No matter what they do, they’re going down,” Torrealba said on his daily radio show.

Source: La Nación.

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