Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez took another step aimed at consolidating his authoritarian choke hold on Venezuela by forcing cable providers to dump Radio Caracas Television (RCTV) from their broadcasting lineups.  The popular, anti- Chavez channel first ran afoul of the populist leader for its critical programming back in 2007.  At the time the Chavez government refused to renew its license to broadcast over open airwaves. It disappeared from the cable channels on January 24.

Government officials cited violations by RCTV such as failure to broadcast Chavez endless diatribes, airing soap operas during children’s hour, and other egregious infractions. This censorship by restrictive regulation is the favored tool of the Chavez regime as it accelerates throttling of individual rights and liberties.

Shutting down a TV station is hardly his only problem. On Saturday, January 23, large demonstrations for and against Chavez took to the streets of Caracas.

It is easy to see easy to see why the great leader is in trouble. Increasing polarization is the result of mounting problems occasioned by Chavez’s disastrous “Socialism of the 21st Century” that include galloping inflation, recurring power outages, and periodic food shortages.   Chavez has resorted to increasingly restrictive measures ranging from currency devaluation to the nationalization of retail stores to shore up his struggling oil-based economy.  He has driven his nation’s economy to the bottom of the barrel. The Heritage Foundation and Wall Street Journal 2010 Index of Economic Freedom released last week handed Venezuela’s statist economy a ranking of 174th out of 179 rated economies, placing it on par with Burma, Cuba, North Korea and Zimbabwe.