Chavez’s crack down on criticism continues.

QUITO, Ecuador – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Friday defended the arrest of a major TV channel owner, calling him a criminal and denying the government is carrying out an assault on press freedom.

The back-to-back arrests this week of two government opponents — including the owner of Venezuela’s only remaining anti-Chavez TV channel — have drawn accusations that Chavez is growing increasingly intolerant and authoritarian as his popular support has slipped.

That Sean Penn and Oliver Stone think this Hugo Chavez is to be admired says nothing good about them. Hell, Penn even said Chavez should jail his critics. Oh well, Chavez said that the government is not assaulting press freedom. And he’s not totally wrong on that. The press in Venezuela is still free to write uncritical reports on Chavez after all.