During this period, as in recent years, the status of press freedom is marked by threats, abuses and the deaths of journalists, impunity, the closing of media outlets, elimination of free expression in culture and the arts, discrimination on access to news sources and placement of government advertising as well as many other violations of democratic principles and constitutional standards. President Hugo Chávez’s obvious control of public power has allowed him to move forward in his mission with methods similar to those used by the Cuban regime. This mission is the prospect of control and submission of the people by those who make it a priority to eliminate personal initiative, the sovereign will of the people, press freedom and other rights guaranteed in the Constitution to fulfill their communist plans. They seek to impose censorship and submissiveness on the media, education, cultural institutions and civic groups, workers and labor unions as well as the independent private sector. This also extends to citizens who suffer retaliation from the government. On October 10, 2008, the pro-government group called La Piedrita attacked reporter Mayela León, cameraman Luis Reaño and assistant Frank Díaz of Globovisión who were covering a truckers’ protest against the lack of safety in 23 de Enero neighborhood. Their camera and microphone were taken. On October 10, the Information and Communication Ministry announced that the government would cut advertising to independent media outlets. It called them supporters of a coup and said they contribute to destabilizing the country. On October 12, the government accused Miguel Henrique Otero, publisher of the daily El Nacional of involvement in destabilization and assassination plans. On October 14, Chávez supporters attacked the office of the daily El Nuevo País with tear gas and declared its publisher, Rafael Poleo, a “military target.” On October 16, the National Assembly agreed to investigate Rafael Poleo, Leopoldo Castillo and Globovisión for allegedly instigating assassination. On October 16, CONATEL opened a case against Globovisión because of statements by Rafael Poleo on the program “Aló Ciudadano” (Hello Citizen) hosted by Leopoldo Castillo. On the program, Poleo said that the fascist mission of President Hugo Chávez could lead him to a fate similar to that of Benito Mussolini. On October 16, Leopoldo Castillo reported that unknown people had thrown a tear-gas canister at his home. On October 16, Perla Jaimes, legal representative of Globovisión, reported to the Public Ministry that the pro-government host of a program on Venezolana de Televisión had broadcast a telephone conversation between Alberto Federico Ravell and Teodoro Petkoff, editor of the daily Tal Cual. On October 17, the pro-government Bolivarian Lawyers Association asked the prosecutor’s office to have Globovisión investigated for instigating a crime because of Rafael Poleo’s statements. On October 30, Globovisión presented its defense to CONATEL concerning Rafael Poleo’s statements on “Aló Ciudadano.” On November 6, the Municipal Council of Valencia approved a proposal by its president that any journalist or author who criticizes Chávez or the revolution be declared persona non grata. On November 14 Chávez threatened to revoke the licenses and close media outlets that report election results early. On November 16 the daily El Periódico was closed leaving 150 workers without jobs after its offices were raided on the orders of the national anti-drug agency. On November 27, CONATEL opened a new administrative proceeding against Globovisión for allegedly disturbing the public order because it broadcast live statements by Henrique Salas Feo, the governor-elect of Carabobo. On November 28, the daily El Nuevo Día in Anzoátegui state, said it would close because of financial problems. On December 1, members of the pro-government group La Piedrita attacked the home of journalist Marta Colomina with tear gas. On December 7, a government sympathizer threw a bottle at Kisai Mendoza, photographer of the daily El Universal who was in the paper’s vehicle driving along Avenida Urdaneta. On December 9, government supporters attacked reporters and photographers covering the first meeting of political factions in the Carabobo state legislature. On December 14, Miguel Angel Rodríguez, host of the program “La Entrevista” (The Interview”) on RCTV Internacional said government employees were following him with orders to neutralize him. On January 1, 2009 the pro-government group La Piedrita attacked the offices of Globovisión. Two motorcyclists threw a tear-gas bomb and pamphlets at the building. On January 5, journalists were barred from the opening session of the National Assembly as enemies of the revolution. On January 13, shots were fired at Rafael Finol of the daily El Regional in Acarigua when he left his office. On January 14, unknown people attacked the office of the daily NotiTarde in Valencia, scratching the front of the building and verbally attacking the staff. On January 15, the secretary of the National Assembly informed journalists that its leaders had ordered that cameras of private television stations would not be allowed in the press box. The decision was made after Globovisión broadcast pictures of a government legislator watching pornography on his laptop during a debate. On January 16, Orel Sambrano of the daily NotiTarde was shot several times and killed as he left a video store on his way home. On January 19, government supporters attacked the home of Dr. Marcel Granier, president of Empresas 1BC, with tear gas for the second time this year. The Aspostolic Nunciature and the office of the rector of Central Venezuelan University (UCV) were attacked at the same time. On January 20, members of the party that supports Chávez and the so called La Piedrita collective attacked Cecilia Rodríguez, photographer for the daily El Nuevo País while she was working in the area of Plaza Morelos. On January 22, two people on a motorcycle threw tear-gas bombs at the building of Bloque de Armas, publisher of the dailies 2001 and Meridiano . On January 26, Alberto Federico Ravell, news director of Globovisión, went to the Public Ministry to renew his complaint that his telephone was tapped and his private conversations were broadcast by the official channel Venezolana de Televisión. On January 27, Vice President Ramón Carrizales and the head of the armed forces Strategic Operational Command (CEO) attacked the media, saying they destabilize the country. On January 28, the Public Ministry summoned Alberto Federico Ravell, news director of Globovisión to interview him about a meeting he allegedly had with opposition leaders in Puerto Rico. It was alleged that they had discussed a conspiracy against President Hugo Chávez with a U.S. diplomat. On January 29, Orlando Alviarez, photographer for Últimas Noticias was attacked violently in front of the Caracas City Hall by a person who insulted him and twice took away his camera and press card. On February 4, journalists of the daily NotiTarde covering the poisoning of 90 schoolchildren in a hospital were attacked by Valencia police officers. On February 5, Valentín Santana, leader of La Piedrita, said in an interview in the newspaper Quinto Día that they would shoot opponents, including Marcel Granier, president of Empresas 1BC. On February 7, the National Press Workers Union published a detailed report saying that January was “ a tragic month for journalists and peace in Venezuela.” It reported 24 cases of attacks against journalists and media outlets. On February 10, Chávez said the pro-government group La Piedrita is infiltrated by the CIA. He also said that Miguel Henrique Otero, publisher of El Nacional and Teodoro Petkoff, editor of the daily Tal Cual , and others had made statements blaming the government directly for the attack on the Caracas Synagogue. On February 12, SUDEBAN, the bank supervising agency, ordered banks to give the National Assembly information about any accounts that Alberto Federico Ravell and other political leaders might have within three working days. On February 28, in historic decisions, the Inter-American Court on Human Rights ruled that the Venezuelan government was guilty of attacks on journalists and executives of Radio Caracas Televisión and Globovisión. It criticized the Chávez government for failing to fulfill its obligation to guarantee the freedom to seek, receive and disseminate information and the right to physical safety. On March 1, on his Sunday program, President Chávez ordered the minister of information and communication, governors and mayors, to draw up a “map of the media war” to determine the influence of community media outlets and how many newspapers, television channels and radio stations are in private hands. He said the purpose of “this map is to know how many publications the oligarchy manipulates in each state and municipality, on the Internet, because this is a daily battle. It is necessary to make propaganda and counter-propaganda.” On March 5, the Media Committee of the National Assembly announced that this year there will be an amendment to the Content Law that regulates radio and television, known in Venezuela as the “Gag Law.” The chairman of the Science and Technology Committee said “private media outlets distort topics such as the lack of public safety,” and added that this year laws will be drafted to control content. On March 5, the former news director of Televisora Venezolana Social (TVES), established by Chávez for ideological purposes when he closed Radio Caracas Televisión, presented evidence to the attorney general’s office to support reports of large scale corruption at this government channel. A year after the military seized the transmission equipment of Radio Caracas Televisión on a presidential order, it is still being used by the government to broadcast TVES nationwide.