IMAGE: HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS PROTEST AGAINST CHAVEZ
Howard Yanes  /  AP
Venezuelan high school students in Caracas on Tuesday shout slogans against President Hugo Chavez's decision to shut down the opposition-aligned TV station Radio Caracas Television.
updated 5/29/2007 4:35:38 PM ET 2007-05-29T20:35:38

President Hugo Chavez defended his decision not to renew the license of a popular opposition-aligned television network on Tuesday and warned he might crack down on another critical TV station, accusing it of trying to incite attempts on his life.

Chavez said his refusal to renew the license of Radio Caracas Television, which went off the air at midnight Sunday, is "a sovereign, legitimate decision in which there is no argument."

He said the remaining opposition-sided channel Globovision had encouraged attempts on his life and warned that if it wants "to continue calling for disobedience, inciting assassination ... I'm going to warn them before the nation... I recommend they take a tranquilizer, that they slow down, because if not, I'm going to slow them down."

Chavez did not elaborate, but also warned that radio stations should not be inciting violence by "manipulating feelings" among the populace.

Thousands of Venezuelans — both Chavez supporters and opponents — staged separate marches in Caracas on Tuesday. The Chavez opponents chanted "freedom!" while government supporters said they were in the streets to reject an opposition attempt to stir up violence.

Information Minister Willian Lara on Monday accused Globovision of encouraging an attempt on Chavez's life by broadcasting the chorus of a salsa tune — "Have faith, this doesn't end here" — along with footage of the 1981 assassination attempt against Pope John Paul II in St. Peter's Square.

"They incite the assassination of Venezuela's president," he said.

Globovision director Alberto Federico Ravell denied any wrongdoing, calling the allegations "ridiculous."

The government turned over RCTV's license to a new state-funded public channel, which showed a documentary on explorers in Antarctica, a children's program and exercise programs, interspersed with government ads repeating the slogan "Venezuela now belongs to everyone."

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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