Venezuelan tanks have taken up positions in Caracas in advance of the government's closure of a television station known as a frequent critic of President Hugo Chavez.

Reports from the capital say National Guard units were called out at midday Friday on security duty ahead of demonstrations expected on Sunday, when Radio Caracas Television, Venezuela's oldest private broadcaster, is scheduled to close.

The United States Senate passed a unanimous resolution Friday condemning Mr. Chavez and his government for what it called "an assault against freedom of thought and expression [that] cannot be accepted by democratic countries."

Similar reaction came from many news media organizations across Latin America.

Venezuelan officials say RCTV's broadcasting license was cancelled because it supported an unsuccessful coup against Mr. Chavez more than five years ago. The country's supreme court rejected earlier this week the station's request to stay on the air during an appeal of the government decision.

RCTV is one of Venezuela's most popular broadcasters, and reporters in Caracas estimate a wide majority of the population opposes its closure. The government says a new public-service channel will take up RCTV's frequencies beginning Monday.

A sponsor of the bipartisan resolution passed by the U.S. Senate, Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, says its unanimous backing shows Americans' deep concern about the deterioration of democracy in Venezuela.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and AP.