The State of the Internet in Venezuela

Reportedly, the number of internet users has steadily grown to over 6 million in Venezuela in a population of 26 million people. Not surprisingly, the increasing importance of the internet as an alternative way of disseminating and accessing information has not escaped the attention of the upper echelons of the ruling rogues.

Solely interested in centralizing and controlling power at all cost, this has been, arguably, one of the most inefficient and corrupt governments in Venezuelan history in terms of economic/ public policy design and accomplishments. Case in point, the government owned telecommunications company CANTV. Ever since nationalized in the name of the people, it's been in a steady financial and operational decline which doesn't prevent the Chávez government from working diligently on a new telecommunications bill which promises to effectively censor internet traffic by creating a single, centralized node -- through which all internet traffic will flow -- controlled by, you guessed it, CANTV and, by extension, the state -- Cuban, Chinese model, any one?

This is not to say that the Venezuelan Blogosphere (a.k.a. La Bobosfera Venezolana, bobo meaning stupid) poses a serious threat. With a few notable exceptions, and you know who you are, Venezuelan Bloggers seem to limit themselves to recycle/plagiarize articles from the mainstream press, posting articles and videos about the latest Hollywood gossip or electronic gadget product reviews. There is very little original let alone critical content and meaningful dialog between citizens. Nevertheless, once people wake up to the impending censorship things could change for the better, or so we hope.

Another interesting development to watch for is whether or not the Venezuelan political opposition will start finally embracing online. We posted about this subject last year and this year our fellow Bloggers over at Caracas Chronicles have come up with an excellent series of posts reviewing the websites of Venezuela's main political parties (How web-savvy is your party?). Check it out! It's worthwhile reading! Kudos for their endeavor!

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