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Rights groups criticize Venezuela for censoring TV

| Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013, 7:12 p.m.

CARACAS, Venezuela — Rights groups are condemning an order by Venezuela's broadcast agency for a television channel to stop showing clips that question the legality of postponing President Hugo Chavez's inauguration.

The organizations Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders criticized the government's actions against the country's only staunchly anti-Chavez channel, Globovision.

U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said in a statement on Saturday that the Venezuelan government is attempting to censor critical public discussions and intimidate its critics.

Globovision had been showing clips in which it replayed remarks by Chavez, Vice President Nicolas Maduro and Venezuela's attorney general.

In them, the channel questioned the constitutionality of putting off the ailing president's scheduled Jan. 10 inauguration for a new term while he remains in Cuba more than a month after undergoing cancer surgery. The opposition had opposed such a delay, but the Supreme Court ruled that Chavez can be sworn in later.

The brother of the ailing president, Adan Chavez, insisted on Saturday that his sibling is not in a coma and is continuing to recover in Cuba.

The saga has enormous stakes for Venezuela, a nation of 29 million people with the world's largest oil reserves, as well as for the wider region. Cuba and a handful of other leftist-ruled nations depend on Chavez's economic aid.

The 58-year-old socialist leader has not been seen since his cancer surgery on Dec. 11.

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