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U.S. Congressman Assails Venezuelan Oppression of Human Rights

Calls for the Venezuelan government to uphold the human rights and civil liberties of its citizens

Washington, D.C., May 24, 2007 - Congressman Luis Fortuño (R- PR) assailed the Venezuelan government's oppression of human rights in a live interview today at the Voice of America.

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Congressman Fortuño and Carolina Jaimes from Radio Caracas in Venezuela discussed the Venezuelan government's plans to shut down RCTV, one of that country's oldest and most popular television stations.

"It's traditional and typical of an authoritarian government to want to control everything," Fortuño said. "For me, it's incredible that this is happening in the 21st century."

Congressman Fortuño is a co-sponsor of H Con Res 50, which calls on the government of Venezuela to uphold the human rights and civil liberties of the people of Venezuela. More than forty members of Congress from both parties have co-signed the bill. "Freedom of expression does not have a political party," Fortuño said. "At the end of the day, the desire for liberty in every human being is uncontrollable. No government in the world can thwart it."

Reporters without Borders, the InterAmerican Press Association, and the European Union have also voiced objections to the anticipated closure of RCTV. At a news conference Thursday morning, Broadcasting Board of Governors member Blanquita Cullum joined Fortuno and other members of Congress in denouncing the planned shutdown on May 27. Cullum announced plans for talk show hosts across the U.S. to show solidarity with RCTV by tying a black ribbon around their microphones on June 27, Journalists Day in Venezuela.

The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts more than 1,000 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 115 million people. Programs are produced in 45 languages.

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