Can electrical shortages be seen as a form of censorship? Without electricity, communications via citizen media — a process by which citizens participate and influence their communities — cannot go very far. In the midst of the economic, social and political crises hitting Venezuela, citizens are facing a steady deterioration of telecommunications and connection quality, along with constant power outages. When added to the overall environment of the media, this creates a situation that is adversely affecting freedom of access to information and communication.
Freedom House, a US-based NGO dedicated to upholding civil liberties classifies Venezuela as a “not free” country in terms of freedom of expression, and gives it the second worst rating for Internet freedoms in the region. For Venezuelans, it’s not easy to get informed with impartial and truthful information with respect to daily news. Many have turned to social networks to meet needs that traditional media cannot fulfill.
While the socialist policies of Hugo Chávez’s government caused a gradual increase in the number of Internet users, this increase did not coincide with an increase in infrastructure and capacity. This has gradually caused connection quality to deteriorate. In recent years, Venezuela has become one of the countries with the slowest Internet speeds in Latin America. While other countries have increased Internet ubiquity and connection speed, Venezuela continues to have harsh limitations, comparable to those of Bolivia and Paraguay — although the percentage of users still exceeds those of Cuba, Honduras and Nicaragua.