18 August 2016

Venezuela: IAPA protests official campaign to discredit media


MIAMI, Florida (August 17, 2016)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today described as an act of corruption by the government of Venezuela the use of public resources and the official apparatus to carry out a campaign of negative propaganda and discrediting waged against several media in the South American country through the public television channel and that of the office of the Venezuelan Vice Presidency.

The newspaper El Nacional complained of a government campaign to discredit it through a video broadcast by the public television chain Venezolana de Televisión. The 26-second video titled in Spanish "El Nacional is NOT a media, it is a war laboratory!" declares that the newspaper promotes chaos in the country through "imperial funding, fascism, sensationalist journalism and a touch of racism."

This recording and a similar one against the news website La Patilla, both signed by "Tweeters for the truth," are to be found on the YouTube channel of the Venezuelan Vice Presidency.

Claudio Paolillo, chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, declared, "To use public media as supportive organs to make propaganda and campaigns to discredit in those spaces that are paid for with resources of all the Venezuelans is nothing but corruption."

Paolillo, editor of the Montevideo, Uruguay, weekly Búsqueda, added, "Although these proceedings by Chavism are not new it is necessary to continue denouncing them so that these despotic attitudes remain in evidence." He said that these campaigns are part of the government's communication strategy that employs policies restrictive of the free circulation of information, obstacles to access newsprint and other supplies and triggers legal actions against owners and executives, among other limitations aimed at strangling independent media.

In August 2015 the former president of the National Assembly and congressman Diosdado Cabello filed a civil charge against El Nacional, La Patilla and the weekly Tal Cual and their editors and publishers for "moral damages," demanding a mutli-million-dollar indemnity, ordering several of them to go into exile or remain in the country prohibited from leaving. The three media outlets had reproduced a report in the Spanish newspaper ABC about alleged links of Cabello with drug trafficking.

Paolillo said that "what we are talking about in Venezuela is the existence of a disastrous policy of obstructing freedom of expression and of the press and lack of respect for human rights."

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.