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US, Spain Urge Venezuela to Reopen Opposition TV Station


The United States and Spain have called on Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to reopen an opposition-backed television station whose closure has prompted angry street protests.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged Venezuela Friday to cease what she called "attacks on free press." She spoke in Madrid after talks with Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos.

The Spanish official said he had expressed his wish that Venezuelans should have guarantees in the freedom of their information.

The Venezuelan government refused to renew the license of Radio Caracas Television on Sunday, saying it violated broadcast laws.

Demonstrators have rallied throughout the week to protest the ban. Police have arrested more than 180 people, mostly university students and minors, for alleged violent acts during the protests.

The U.S. State Department has issued a travel warning to Americans planning trips to Venezuela, urging them to avoid the demonstrations.

Radio Caracas Television (RCTV) continues to report and broadcast news on its own website and the popular YouTube website. The government has replaced the television station with a new state-funded channel, Venezuelan Social Television.

Former presidential candidate Manuel Rosales, a leading opponent of President Chavez, has called for a referendum to decide whether RCTV should be allowed back on the air.

On Monday, Venezuelan officials said they were investigating another television channel, Globovision, alleging it had encouraged an attempt on the president's life. Globovision officials have rejected the allegations.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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