Venezuela: IAPA holds government responsible for closure of newspapers


MIAMI, Florida (November 22, 2016)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today declared that the economic strangling in Venezuela and the restrictions in print media obtaining supplies directly violate press freedom principles, and held President Nicolás Maduro's government responsible for the shutdown of three newspapers.

The daily papers Qué Pasa, La Verdad and El Regional del Zulia stopped publishing in recent days due to lack of newsprint, and the newspaper Versión Final reduced its number of pages last week from 40 to 24. All these papers are in Zulia state in northeastern Venezuela.

The situation of the Venezuelan media has worsened due to the numerous demands made on them by the government for the granting of foreign currency necessary for the importation of newsprint and due to the monopoly in the distribution of this controlled substance by the state Complejo Editorial Alfredo Maneiro (CEAM) editorial complex which in a discretionary manner decides how much and to whom this important raw material is sold.

"Beginning today due to lack of newsprint the printing press of the newspaper El Regional del Zulia will be silenced until further notice," the paper's editor, Gilberto Urdaneta, declared to the IAPA.

IAPA President Matt Sanders and the chairman of the organization's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Roberto Rock, called the government of President Maduro responsible. "It is surprising that because of the irresponsibility of the government news media are silenced, thus restricting the people's right to know and to be informed, precisely at a time when there exists a dialogue with the opposition, a significant matter for the future of the country," the IAPA executives said.

Sanders, of Deseret Digital Media, Salt Lake City, Utah, and Rock, of La Silla Rota, Mexico City, Mexico, added that the restrictions on circulation of the media violate the right to freedom of expression as set forth in the Declaration of Chapultepec and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights' Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression.

According to the organization IPYS Venezuela between August 2013 and November 2016 14 print media have ceased publishing, four of them permanently and 10 temporarily. In this same period some 49 media in 16 Venezuelan states complained of difficulties and obstacles in acquiring newsprint and other supplies necessary for printing their editions.

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.