31 May 2013

Attack on Venezuelan paper Panorama brings IAPA rebuke

Miami (May 28, 2013).- An attack on the building of the Venezuelan newspaper Panorama was condemned today by the Inter American Press Association (IAPA), which called on the authorities to provide guarantees for the unfettered practice of journalism and identify and bring to justice those responsible for unleashing acts of violence. An explosive device was hurled yesterday morning at the Panorama offices in downtown Maracaibo, in Zulia state. There were no reports of injuries or material damage. According to the newspaper eye-witnesses said the device – placed in a shoe box – was thrown from a moving vehicle. Also found at the scene were pamphlets of a group calling itself “Bolivarian Liberation Forces (FBL): Bolívar Lives.” The newspaper’s publisher, Patricia Pineda Hernández, explained to local media that “this was a box containing two explosives, only one of which blew up … we do not know the origin of this, however we will not let ourselves be provoked  … this kind of event will not limit our task of informing with the truthfulness and objectivity that characterizes us.” IAPA President Jaime Mantilla, editor of the Quito, Ecuador, newspaper Hoy, urged the authorities “to ensure the physical safety of those exercising press freedom and investigate and bring to justice those who carried out this attack, which while it did not result in loss of life encourages self-censorship and a culture of fear.” For his part, Claudio Paolillo, chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information and editor of the Montevideo, Uruguay, weekly Búsqueda, added that “in order to prevent such actions from becoming customary it is urgent that those in charge give priority to this case so that it does not go unpunished, as that is the best antidote to violence.” Mantilla and Paolillo, who are currently in Honduras as part of an IAPA international mission to the Central American country, both cited Principle 4 of the IAPA-inspired Declaration of Chapultepec, which states, “Freedom of expression and of the press are severely limited by … violence of any kind and impunity for perpetrators” so “such acts must be investigated promptly and punished harshly.”