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Venezuela's regime: Initial stages of internet control

By Aleksander Boyd

London 26.04.05 | Vcrisis readers are a wonderful source of information. In a country rapidly advancing towards totalitarianism it is only through this and other types of independent media that concerns can be voiced without fear of reprisal. This morning I got an alarming message. A reader who happens to be related to somebody who owns a "CANTV comunication center" sent the following message:

"I have got a relative who owns a CANTV communication center. During the first 18 months since the business was set up I was personally in charge of it. Few days ago I came back for a visit -I'm now living abroad- and today something truly weird took place. In the center there are 15 PCs to be rented for internet access to the public and 4 additional ones for administration purposes. But today, for the first time in three years, we had problems accessing the internet. We thought that it could have been a problem with the server for none of the common websites (hotmail, google, cnn, uefa, yahoo, etc) could be accessed, however, by mere chance we realised that the website of Venezuela's Institute of Social Security (http://www.ivss.gov.ve) was accessible. Paranoid, as everyone seems to be here, it immediately occured to me to check whether the official sites of the government -those which end in .gov.ve- such as MINCI, MINFRA, MRE, TSJ, CNE, the president's site, etc. and much to my amazement all could be seen and were normally loaded.

I immediately got in touch with owners of other such CANTV centers and they all reported the same problem. We then call to CANTV business customer service, in charge of monitoring the network, and the only answer we got was that they were conducting some tests ordered by CONATEL (Venezuela's telecommunications commission). No further explanation was given.

The peculiar situation only lasted about 45 minutes around midday today (yesterday). It is of course worrying for us, taking into consideration that the Cuban regime has strict controls over internet access, which impedes regular citizens from accessing CNN, the BBC or any other news network.

I believe that this test is not an isolated event and the Chavez regime is setting the mechanisms to impose restrictions geared at blocking internet access to certain sites when they so desire for it is very rare indeed that only the official sites were loading".



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