The release of some 3,000 e-mail messages believed to be from the personal accounts of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and members of his inner circle has shined a light on the cynicism and deceit of the dictatorial regime in Damascus. Assad is revealed to mock his own countrymen as well as the reforms he promised in response to the antigovernment protests that began a year ago. In the e-mails, he refers to these reforms as “rubbish laws of parties, elections, media.” That he offered them at all, of course, would seem to fly in the face of his long-standing assertion that the uprising is an assault by foreign-backed terrorists, as opposed to a legitimate demand for political change by Syrian citizens.
In a move widely considered to be political, Venezuela’s National Telecommunications Commission handed down a fine of $2 million dollars against Globovision, the only remaining independent television station critical of Hugo Chavez.
The body of journalist Wilfred Ojeda was found by police dumped in waste on May 17, 2011. He was beaten, tortured and shot to death. Ojeda was a columnist for the El Clarin newspaper in La Victoria, and an activist for the Democratic Action political party that opposed President Chavez.