Venezuela: IAPA voices great concern

News media should break the silence and continue denouncing each abuse that is recorded in the South American country.

It urges its members to keep on denouncing abuses of free speech and press freedom

MIAMI, Florida (June 6, 2017)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today expressed great concern at the state of violence in Venezuela and issued a call upon traditional and alternative news media to break the silence and continue denouncing each abuse that is recorded in the South American country of free speech and press freedom.

The chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Roberto Rock, declared, "It is important for media to denounce all the abuses, however small they may be" that occur in Venezuela.

He explained that "we media have to rebuild the architecture of a dictatorial government that imposes its government policies, violating the fundamental right of its citizens to freedom of expression." He added that the denunciation of each act of injustice is an invaluable form of contribution.

Rock, editor of the Mexican news Web site La Silla Rota, extended this call specifically to IAPA member media. He also stressed the fundamental role of non governmental organizations is to call attention to and denounce repression, harassment and scare tactics that have increased against Venezuelan citizens, media and local and international journalists.

Just on June 5 as reporters were covering protests there were 14 cases with 18 victims "between robberies, attacks and arrests for seeking, receiving or disseminating information," according to the organization Espacio Público (Public Space), at the hands of members of the Bolivarian National Police and the National Guard, who also shot pellets and screws. They were also stripped of their cameras and cell phones. Those involved were journalists of the newspaper El Nacional, television channels Globovisión, TV Venezuela Noticias and Telesur and portals Runrunes, El Cooperante and Webnotitarde.

Since the start of the anti-government protests in late March up to May 31 the number of people killed was 65, plus more than 1,000 injured and some 2,700 arrested. In that same period there occurred 256 violations of and limits to the practice of journalism, 99 members of the press have been attacked, 17 have been subject to arbitrary detentions (the majority carried out by security forces and pro-government groups), 33 have suffered intimidations, and 81% of the attacks and aggressions were against privately-owned media, the digital media being the most affected, according to the Ipys Venezuela press organization.

Other challenges are the limitations to fundamental rights on the Internet, a product of the state of emergency in Venezuela. The IAPA has joined the rejection of the actions taken by the government through the presidential decree extending the state of emergency in Venezuela, learned about on May 16, which increases the restrictions on digital content, authorizing online vigilance and screening of information.

The IAPA recorded the blockage of at least 41 Web sites and the television portals of Vivo Play TV and VPI TV, as well as those of the channels El Tiempo of Colombia and Todo Noticias of Argentina and the portal of the Legislative Branch Capitolio TV. International televisions NTN24 and CNN en Español were expelled from the country.

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.