MIAMI, Florida (February 15, 2017)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today expressed its strong rejection of the decision of the Venezuelan government to cancel the Spanish-language signal of CNN from its cable channel programming in the South American country.
The National Telecommunications Commission (CONATEL), following the orders of President Nicolás Maduro, who had on Sunday come out against the CNN en Español, this afternoon ordered the cancellation, arguing that the U.S. chain was defaming and distorting the truth, a reference to the journalistic investigation "Pasaportes en la sombra" (Passports in the shadows) in which government officials were implicated in the sale of passports to Middle East citizens.
The government order was taken after the decision of the United States Treasury Department to include Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami in the "Clinton List," accusing him of having links with drug trafficking and international terrorism.
Roberto Rock, chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, rejected the action against CNN en Español "for being a reprisal by the government of Venezuela against the messengers, part of its strategy to protect and defend the discourse and official truth." He added that "this is an attack upon press freedom that unmasks the government's real aim to censor the press and dissident voices."
Rock, editor of La Silla Rota, Mexico, recalled that this was not the first time that CNN en Español has had problems in Venezuela and also that Colombian international chain NTN24 was taken off the air in February 2014. He also noted that currently very few newspapers are continuing to be published due to restrictions in the distribution of newsprint that the government controls and the restrictions that are imposed in general on independent media.
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 publications from throughout the Western Hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida.