Venezuelan intelligence officers have raided the home of a Twitter user suspected of spreading destabilising rumours about the health of Hugo Chávez ahead of an inauguration that the ailing president looks increasingly unlikely to attend.
The alleged microblogger, Federico Medina Ravell is the cousin of a prominent opposition figure, prompting concerns that a long-simmering “information war” could be escalating as the government and its opponents try to fill the vacuum left by a leader who has not been seen or heard in public since he flew to Cuba for emergency cancer surgery a month ago.
The team of Sebin (Bolivarian National Intelligence Service) officers confiscated several computers from Medina’s home in Valencia on Sunday night, according to domestic newspapers.
Medina is the cousin of Alberto Federico Ravell, a well-known opposition journalist and co-founder of Globovision, a major news broadcaster and staunch critic of the Chávez government.
Medina, who was not at home, is accused of instigating terrorism through social networking sites. He is said to be behind the @LucioQuincioC Twitter account, which has claimed that Chávez will not return from Havana.
Fausta’s blog readers may recall that Globovision has been in Chavez’s cross-hairs for several years. In 2011 Hugo Chavez’s dictatorship fined TV channel Globovision US$2.1 million over its coverage of the deadly prison riots at Rodeo prison. The fine equaled more than 7.5% of the station’s annual revenues. Guillermo Zuloaga, Globovision’s majority owner, had to flee Venezuela in 2010, following Chavez’s constant threats against him and the station.
Meanwhile, as Cuba vies for control in post-Chávez Venezuela and other socialist heads-of-state plan to show up in Caracas for Chavez’s third inaugural (whether Chavez himself is there or not), the Venezuelan Catholic Church has said that delaying President Hugo Chavez’s inauguration would be a “morally unacceptable” violation of the constitution.
Cross-posted at Liberty Unyielding.
The winner of BEST POST TITLE goes to Carlos Eire, Forecast for Venezuela: Chance of the shinola hitting the fan at 99.999999 %
RK: Is this the first time you or your family have been threatened?
FMR: My family has been harassed via phone, and now the government has threatened to confiscate my assets, under the claim that I am responsible for the terrorist twitter account @LucioQuincioC. Their only reason to persecute me is that I am a critic of the regime; I am the first cousin of Alberto Federico Ravell, co-founder of globovision.com TV channel, and lapatilla.com news; I am also an active member, despite being away from my homeland, of Progressive Front for Change, an opposition alliance, alongside Ismael Garcia, Henri Falcon and Juan Jose Molina.