Venezuela cracks down on soap opera


The soap opera has a dog named Little Hugo, an apparent reference to President Hugo Chavez

Venezuelan authorities are demanding that a private television station stop airing a Colombian soap opera that they say is denigrating to their country.

The soap opera Chepe Fortuna features an unscrupulous secretary named Venezuela who has a dog called Little Hugo, an apparent reference to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Given recent diplomatic disputes between the neighbouring countries, the satire has not sat well with Venezuela’s government.

The character Venezuela, in contrast to her sister named Colombia, “is repeatedly characterised as associated with illegal activities, meddling and vulgarity”, Venezuela’s telecommunications regulatory agency Conatel said in a statement.

The regulator accused the soap opera of promoting “political intolerance” and notified private Venezuelan TV state Televen on Thursday that it should pull it off the air.

It was not clear if the regulator’s order included a sanction for the station if it didn’t.

Filming of the soap opera began in 2009, when relations between Colombia and Venezuela were at a particularly tense moment.

The secretary Venezuela lost her dog in one episode, and another character told her not to worry and that she would be better off without her dog Little Hugo.

Televen is owned by Venezuelan magnate Gustavo Cisneros and maintains a neutral stance with respect to Mr Chavez’s socialist-oriented government.

Chepe Fortuna is produced by Colombian network RCN.

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