Venezuela angry at Colombia TV mocking "Little Hugo"

Fri Jan 14, 2011 12:39pm EST
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By Mario Naranjo

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's government has urged a private TV station to pull the plug on a Colombian soap opera that features a dog named "Little Hugo" and it says is an insult to national pride.

In the cast of "Chepe Fortuna" is a loud, colorfully-dressed and gossipy secretary named "Venezuela."

In one episode, she loses her dog "Little Hugo" -- an obvious reference to former soldier Chavez -- and a friend consoles her: "You are going to be free, Venezuela!"

That sort of satire, against a backdrop of tense relations between the neighboring Andean countries over the last decade, brought a withering reaction from Venezuela's state telecommunications regulator Conatel.

It demanded the daily soap opera be immediately suspended from Venezuelan TV because of its "denigrating treatment" of the nation.

"Venezuela is repeatedly characterized as associated with crime, interference and vulgarity, showing the shameless manipulation of the plot to demoralize the Venezuelan people," Conatel said in a statement.

Local broadcaster Televen pulled the latest episode of "Chepe Fortuna," which had been scheduled for later that night.

A Televen spokeswoman told Reuters the company had not yet received concrete information from the authorities. Until it did, she added, the show would remain suspended.   Continued...