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Chavez says government has stake in opposition broadcaster

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Venezuela will have a government representative on the board of Globovision
  • Globovision is a broadcaster aligned with the opposition
  • Chavez says the shares come from companies the government has taken over
  • Hugo Chavez
  • Venezuela

(CNN) -- Venezuela will name a government representative to the board of opposition broadcaster Globovision, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said in speech Tuesday.

The move is required because the state is now a minority shareholder of Globovision, he said.

Chavez said the government claims ownership of 25.8 percent of the shares of the company that were owned by two companies that the government took over.

One of the companies is Banco Federal, a failed bank that was owned by Nelson Mezerhane before the government took it over. Mezerhane's bank, which owned a 20 percent stake in Globovision, now belongs to the government, as do the shares, Chavez said.

A second company that the government took over owned a 5.8 percent share, the president said.

Together, the government's stake in Globovision is large enough to name a representative to its board.

"We're obligated," Chavez said. "It's not that we want to or don't want to."

In a statement read on air Tuesday, Globovision said that the only way that a new member of the board can be chosen is by approval of 55 percent or more of the shareholders.

"Beyond the people who may be sitting on its board, the editorial line of Globovision has no percentage of shares. The editorial policy of Globovision cannot be expropriated or intervened," the statement said.

Chavez's announcement was the latest in a long-running feud between the president and Globovision.

The owner of Globovision, Guillermo Zuloaga, is currently wanted in Venezuela for allegedly illegally storing vehicles at his Caracas home with the intent to sell them for a profit. His son, also named Guillermo, also is wanted.

Zuloaga and his son have said that he is being persecuted for political purposes and that the charges are trumped up.

The charges against Zuloaga originated in May 2009, when 24 vehicles were found on one of his properties in Caracas. According to the government, they were being kept there in violation of existing law.

Zuloaga, who owns car dealerships, has said the vehicles were stored at his house as part of his business.

Zuloaga was previously detained in March, when he was accused of criticizing the government during a public forum outside the country.

International human rights groups have criticized the legal action against Zuloaga and other Chavez critics, calling such actions an attempt to silence them.

Globovision is the last remaining television broadcaster that openly carries an anti-Chavez line. Chavez refused to renew the license of another opposition station, RCTV, allegedly over telecommunication regulation violations.