30 July 2013
IAPA is concerned by abrupt economic measures against Venezuelan news-media
Miami (July 30, 2013) The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) expressed its concerns to the Venezuelan Government regarding the abrupt economic measures taken against the countrys journalists and news-media companies. This form of action could be considered part of the ongoing harassment campaign against the independent news media.
Miami (July 30, 2013) – The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) expressed its concerns to the Venezuelan Government regarding the abrupt economic measures taken against the country’s journalists and news-media companies. This form of action could be considered part of the ongoing harassment campaign against the independent news media. The IAPA also asked for a fairer treatment on the part of the national government in its actions against journalists. This in response to the Attorney General, Luisa Ortega Díaz’s, tweet from June 27, where she publicly requested to freeze all bank accounts belonging to Miguel Henrique Otero, Director of the newspaper El National, for his presumed legal disputes against former Mayor and former director of said newspaper, Alfredo Peña, who has been in exile for more than a decade. Otero informed that he found out about the allegations through Twitter and that he doesn’t have knowledge of the legal proceedings. He deemed the actions of the Attorney General’s Office as part of the national government’s tactic to “silence, intimidate and discredit” via a strategy by which “it buys, threatens, and closes private news-media companies, and opens legal proceedings against its journalists and editors.” Moreover, on July 24, the Public Ministry ordered the closing of bank accounts belonging to Leocenis García, president of the Group 6to Poder (Sixth Power), a group composed by the weekly newspaper 6to Poder, 6to Poder Radio, the newspaper El Comercio, 6topoderweb, 6to Poder Datos and the magazine U-Sex. These legal measures, based on accusations of alleged money laundering, fiscal evasion and terrorist financing, included the freezing of eight bank accounts belonging to the Group and three personal accounts belonging to García. García described the action as “unconstitutional,” adding that “it was part of the political pursuit and legal harassment characteristic of totalitarian regimes.” 6to Poder is known for its critical editorial stance against the Venezuelan government. Claudio Paolillo, President of the IAPA Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, called attention to “these type of actions that form part of a government strategy, to close down news media companies by suffocating them financially, which will eliminate the negative political impact that would result from closing them any other way” Paolillo, director of the weekly newspaper Búsqueda, said that “the economic pressure applied --would not permit 6to Poder to pay off its staff or suppliers–, demonstrates the government’s intentions to use the crudest forms of censorship to end with the independent press.” The IAPA has been calling attention to the harassment suffered by the 6to Poder Group. On May 21, Conatel, the organism in charge of implementing the Law on Social Responsibility on Radio and Television, forced various cable providers to take the Atel TV signal off the air, during the time 6to Poder Group was negotiating the purchase of stock from this TV channel. In August 2011, the distribution of the weekly was banned for several days following the publication of a satiric photomontage depicting cabaret dancers with the faces of several government officials. García and the director of 6to Poder, Dinora Girón were temporarily placed in detention, and were accused of “vilification of a public official,” “public instigation to hatred,” and of committing a “gender-related public offense.” The IAPA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press and of expression in the Americas. It is made up of more than 1,300 print publications from throughout the Western Hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida. For more information please visit http://www.sipiapa.org.