Morales, Correa Target TV Foes; Follow Example Set by Chavez in Venezuela
Byline: Martin Arostegui, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
SANTA CRUZ, Bolivia - The leaders of Bolivia and Ecuador are moving with Cuban encouragement and in concert with their mentor, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, to restrict press freedom in their countries.
Bolivian President Evo Morales and Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa both announced steps to crack down on independent broadcasters within days of Mr. Chavez's closure on Sunday of Venezuela's main independent television station, RCTV.
Speaking before an international gathering of leftist intellectuals in Cochabamba last week, Mr. Morales proposed creating a tribunal to oversee the operations of privately owned press and broadcast outlets. Mr. Correa announced over the weekend that he would order a review of the broadcasting licenses of opposition news channels in his country.
Both leaders have drawn support and inspiration from Mr. Chavez's increasingly authoritarian government since coming to power in the past 18 months, and both are drafting new constitutions that would greatly increase their own powers.
Mr. Correa has ousted 51 opposition deputies from his nation's Congress and Mr. Morales this week ordered the arrests of four high court judges after they issued rulings that challenged his government.
"The main adversaries of my presidency, of my government, are certain communications media," Mr. Morales said at the Fifth World Conference of Artists and Intellectuals in Defense of Humanity, a Venezuelan-backed group supporting "the process of change in Latin America."
Appearing alongside Cuba's minister of culture, Abel Prieto, Mr. Morales suggested "drawing on the experience of our friends in Venezuela and Cuba" to establish closer controls over the press.
Mr. Prieto suggested that some owners of the independent press should receive long prison sentences. "I wish that we could imprison the owner of a media outlet. With much pleasure we would give him a life sentence for lying, for confusing the people," Mr. …