19 August 2014

IAPA protests murder of Venezuelan journalist

It calls shutdown of radio program an act of censorship  MIAMI, Florida (August 18, 2014)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today expressed its concern and condemned the murder in Venezuela of journalist Álvaro Cañizales, and called on the authorities to promptly carry out an investigation to bring those responsible to justice. Cañizales, 50, headed the Communication and Institutional Office of the Gran Misión A Toda Vida Venezuela organization in the northwestern state of Zulia; a government sponsored program to deal with security problems in the South American nation. His body was found on Saturday (August 16) in a ravine in the La Olla neighborhood of the city of Tinaquillo, in Cojedes state. His hands were bound with adhesive tape, his mouth gagged, and had a wound to the neck. The Chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Claudio Paolillo, offered his sympathy to the Cañizales’ family and colleagues and urged the Venezuelan authorities “to carry out an exhaustive investigation to determine the motive for the crime and bring those responsible to justice.” While there were no immediate clear indications as to the motive for the murder, Paolillo expressed his concern that the people and the press were being affected by an increasingly unsafe climate in the country. Cañizales was editor of the newspapers La Fe and La Columna, and assistant director of Coquivacoa TV in Zulia; and he also was press director of the state’s Culture Ministry, among other activities. On another matter Paolillo, editor of the Montevideo, Uruguay, weekly Búsqueda, protested the cancellation of radio program “Aquí entre tú y yo” (Here Between You and Me) hosted by journalist Nitu Pérez Osuna.  The cancellation was ordered by the National Telecommunications Commission (CONATEL), which opened an administrative procedure against Radio Caracas Radio (RCR) station for alleged violations of the Law on Social Responsibility on Radio, TV and Electronic Media. According to CONATEL the program violated Articles 27 and 29 concerning the broadcast of “messages that incite or encourage hatred and intolerance for political reasons, foment anxiety in the people or upset public order or ignore the legitimately established authorities.” Paolillo added, “This is just another act of official censorship in a country ever more silenced, where the government has closed down the spaces for free expression through the legal rules cunningly created for that purpose.” Another RCR program, “Plomo parejo”, was also taken off the air several months ago. 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 go to http://www.sipiapa.org.