By Charlie Devereux - GlobalPost
Published: October 6, 2009 06:50 ET
in The Americas
Animated characters Stewie and Brian from the series "Family Guy" are shown on the screen at the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, Sept. 16, 2007. (Mike Blake/Reuters)
CARACAS, Venezuela — He’s a pot-smoking toddler who fantasizes about killing his mother and he’s the latest American figure to rile the Venezuelan government.
Stewie Griffin, the animated character from the hit cartoon "Family Guy," has caused offense here in Venezuela by singing a ditty lauding marijuana’s restorative properties.
The Venezuelan government highlighted the clip as an example of how the U.S. government promotes pot smoking and the legalization of drugs. Venezuela resented a recent U.S. Congress report that said a fourfold increase in cocaine smuggling through Venezuela has been aided by police corruption and a refusal to work with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
“There’s no subliminal messages here,” said Interior and Justice Minister Tarek El Assaimi, who warned that the government would fine any TV station that continues to broadcast the show. “It’s an animated cartoon where you can observe perfectly how they promote consumption and moreover sponsor the consumption of marijuana.”
El Aissami blamed U.S. drug consumption for fueling Venezuela's narco-trafficking market and suggested that "adult" cartoons such as "Family Guy" were mouthpieces for the U.S. government’s tolerant attitude toward drugs. "Family Guy" is not the first cartoon to receive short shrift from authorities in Venezuela. Last year, "The Simpsons" was banned from terrestrial television after it was ruled “unsuitable” for children. It was replaced with "Baywatch," the 1990s series featuring scantily-clad lifeguards in California.
And offensive American cartoons are not the only shows to have felt the sting of government censure. President Hugo Chavez’s government has been shutting down radio and TV stations across the country, accusing them of violating licensing laws. In 2007, the government revoked the terrestrial license of Radio Caracas Television (RCTV), arguing the station had played a large part in orchestrating a coup attempt against Chavez in 2002.