Francisco "Kiko" Bautista, the Venezuelan journalist who served as the anchor of news program "Buenas Noches" with the opposition channel Globovisión, was fired by the network after airing comments made by opposition leader Henrique Capriles the previous night. Globovisión, seen by many as the "last bastion" of media critical of the country's socialist government, was bought by a group of pro-government businessmen for an undisclosed price at the beginning of May. Before his firing, Bautista - a longtime anti-Chavista - had met with the channel's new board of directors, who he says warned him to stop behaving like a member of the opposition while on his show.
Among instructions given by Globovisión's new directors was one prohibiting the transmission of speeches by Henrique Capriles, the candidate who narrowly lost in the April 14 presidential elections and refuses to recognize the results, saying his team has evidence of fraud which has gone uninvestigated. Bautista ignored the directive and broadcasted on his show clips of a speech by Capriles during an event in the state of Lara. He told the opposition newspaper El Universal that he was promptly fired after coming off the air.
"'Do you know why we made this decision?' they asked me. 'Yes, I do. I do not believe we have anything to talk about,' I said. Then they explained me they wanted everything to be handled in the best terms; they made me an offer for my program; I said no, and good-bye, crocodile,'" Bautista said.
He added, "How come a news TV channel is banned from broadcasting news live? What kind of journalism is that, for God's sake? The first victim of that decision is Capriles Radonski because it is not true that balance is a sort of justice. This is only a justification to put channels such as Globovisión at the service of the government policies, which only focus on the government's version of the problems."
The sale of Globovisión to pro-government owners earlier this month was received by the opposition as a bad omen for a free press in Venezuela. The network had been widely seen as supportive of the 2002 coup which temporarily overthrew the government of late president Hugo Chávez; after Chávez was restored to power, he began a campaign to shut down and otherwise limit the sphere of influence of Globovisión and other channels perceived as sympathetic to the opposition.
The new majority shareholder of the channel, banker and insurance executive Juan Domingo Cordero, met with Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro shortly after the sale was announced. In an interview with Globovisión, Cordero said the network would work toward reducing conflict and promote peace in a country with an increasingly fractious political scene.
Bautista told El Pais, "I don't agree that a channel should move toward the center. Globovisión was the space for those who didn't fit in with the official media. We had to give a voice to those who didn't have one. And it should keep on being that way, especially in a country which is about to change. It's a lie that balance is a form of justice."