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Venezuela's Chávez threatens to shut down TV station

President Hugo Chávez denounced Globovision, the sole television channel in Venezuela that regularly criticizes him, for reporting an earthquake before the government announced it.

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President Hugo Chávez is threatening again to shut down Globovision, the sole television channel in Venezuela that regularly criticizes him — saying it had stirred panic for reporting an earthquake before the government announced it.

"We're not going to tolerate a crazy man with a cannon shooting it at the whole world," Mr. Chávez said on his weekly television and radio show Sunday, referring to Alberto Ravell, the Globovision general manager. "Enough! ... This has to end or I'll stop calling myself Hugo Rafael Chávez Frias."

"You are playing with fire, manipulating, inciting hate and much more. All of you: television networks, radio stations, papers," he said. "Don't make a mistake with me."

Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro followed up Monday by charging that Mr. Ravell had terrorized Venezuelan women and children with his 5:21 a.m. report.

"Globovision and Alberto Federico Ravell incited panic and anxiety within the population," Mr. Maduro said. "We will not permit that."

The Globovision all-news station on May 4 scooped the government on the mild pre-dawn earthquake, registering 5.5 on the Richter scale, citing the United States Geological Survey Web page as its source.

Chávez and other government officials also seem upset that Ravell, reporting the details on the earthquake via telephone, chided the government for not providing any news.

"Unfortunately, we haven't been able to find any authority who can give us precise and exact information," said Ravell, while reporting that the country was calm and that the earthquake had caused no major damage.

The attacks against Globovision come at a time when Chávez and senior aides are sidelining opposition leaders with corruption charges. Meanwhile, the Chávez-controlled Congress has taken away the budget of Caracas' newly elected mayor and is moving to impose a Chávez-appointed "vice president" over the country's governors.

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