Guillermo Zuloaga, owner of Venezuela’s 24-hour news web Globovision, is mulling the possibility of seeking asylum in the U.S., where he and his son and business partner are now living in exile.
Zuloaga and son Guillermo Jr. fled the country in early June after Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez ordered their arrest. Another Globovision shareholder, Nelson Mezerhane, whose bank, Banco Federal, was seized by the Venezuelan government over liquidity problems, is also a fugitive in the U.S.
Globovision, the last remaining voice of dissent on Venezuela’s TV airwaves, has been under constant government pressure for years, and has been fined many times.
Zuloaga senior was arrested in March after allegedly committing slander at an Inter-American Press Assn. (IAPA) conference in Aruba, where he accused Chavez of ordering the military to open fire on demonstrators in a 2002 coup attempt. He was quickly released after international pressure built, but the charge was never dropped. Caracas has also dug up old unproven accusations of usury and “hoarding” vehicles on his property. The more bizarre charges of hoarding exotic desiccated animals were dropped.
Interpol has turned down Caracas’ request to issue an international arrest warrant for the three men. An extradition request against them was filed with Venezuela’s supreme court. Meanwhile, Zuloaga has been talking to the U.S. press in a bid to drum up more sympathy for their plight. He has also presented a petition to the Inter-American Human Rights Commission in the U.S.