VENEZUELA The Venezuelan press continues to be the target of persistent repression and intimidation by the authorities and by the courts, which between them are laying the foundations of an apparent national policy to deprive the media of the elimate needed to work freely. These actions are supported by both the Legislature and the Executive. On September 29, Jean Hope Phelps, vice president of the newspaper Diario de Caracas, was shot in the head and seriously injured. In early July, the Chamber of Deputies approved an amendment to Article 66 of the Constitution regarding free speech adding a provision that no one can have direct or indirect exclusive control cf any news media in a specified geographical area. A "right of reply" was established for those who feel they have been wronged by published information - a provision seen as a serious threat to newspapers' freedom cf action. The Chamber of Deputies also approved a elause (Article 44) that obliges the media to give uniform treatment to information from all parties - even though sorne news items may be less important than others. The Senate later passed the clauses dealing with monopoly and right of reply, but threw out the latter one. In any case, such modifications to the constitution must submitted to a referendum. Enactment of a "Law on Protection of the Privacy of Information" is also viewed as a serious threat to journalists, who could face imprisonment of up to four years for disclosing the contents of recorded telephone conversatians. This is considered a serious threat against the media inasmuch as it limits the practice of investigative journalism. Meanwhile, situations have arisen in which the Executive Branch has submitted the media and joumalists to the jurisdiction of military courts, in open violation of legal norms, and has gane on to suspend news program in aseare tactic prejudicial to the work of journalists. Included in this arder were the newspapers El Nacional and El Nuevo País, and Radio Rumbos, all of Caracas, and joumalists Miguel Arcángel, José Vicente Rangel, Rafael del Naranjo, Jesús Falcón and Alexis Rosas. The lawsuit against Rafael Poleo remains pending and he continues in exile. A second lawsuit against Poleo has been filed by Mrs. Cecilia Matos resulting from publication of documents relating to bank accounts. Rafael Poleo, editor of El Nuevo País, remains in exile. A new arrest arder was issued for him for the alleged crime of staging a robbery in his own home. When an IAPA mission visited Caracas in July to investigate the situation of the Venezuelan press, the judge in charge of the Poleo case insisted on meeting with the IAPA delegation, which Roy Megarry, IAPA second vice president, was reported locally to have described as unheard of. The case against El Nacional began on June 8 on instructions cf the defense minister, Division General Femando Ochoa Antich, when the military judge in Caracas opened an investigation into the newspaper's operations after the publication of a militaty intelligence document that indicated morale was low in the military ranks in the wake of the attempted coup last February. The publication of the document led to creation a military court in the very newsroom of the newspaper. Editor Alfredo Peña, managing editor Ibeyice Pacheco and reporters Berenice Gómez and Jesús Eduardo Brando were to ordered to testify. The case was eventually closed on July l0 On August 30, a military judge suspended the opinion program of José Vicente Rangel in which he was going to broadcast an interview with Commander Hugo Chávez, said to be the leader of the aborted military rebellion in February. On September 7, the defense minister also ordered a military investigation of El Mundo journalist Miguel Arcángel, alleging that his reports were prejudicial to the armed forces. This case is still pending. President Carlos Andrés himself has made threatening statements against Venezuelan media, openly blaming them for the crisis that his govemment is experiencing and for being at the bottom of the attack on labor leader Antonio Ríos. On orders ordered from the executive, the following programs were recently ordered to stop broadcasting: • Juicio de la Noticia, El Sonido de la Verdad y Editorial, Current affairs programs produced by journalists Alexis Rosas Domingo Blanco and Femando Silva, which were broadcast by Radio Rumbos, FM 104.5, and YVKE Mundial, respectively. • Napoleón Bravo's news program on Radio Capital and Martín Pacheco's on Radio Uno. Joumalist Alexis Rosas was threatened and harassed by political police agents, who have also have paid visits on his friends and relatives. Other joumalists to have received the same elearly intimidating treatment include Desiré Santos Amaral and Carlos Suárez. All work for Radio Rumbos.