QUITO, Ecuador (May 23, 2018)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today rejected a retaliation against the Web site of Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional after the organization Conatel announced the start of an investigation concerning its coverage of last Sunday's presidential elections, whose results were not recognized by numerous governments of the Americas.
Conatel, the state body that regulates, supervises and controls telecommunications, yesterday notified that it is to initiate sanctioning proceedings against the Web site el-nacional.com for allegedly "disseminating messages that do not recognize the legitimately constituted authorities and in addition inciting and/or promoting hatred," in violation of the Law on Social Responsibility in Radio and Television and Electronic Media and the Anti-Hatred Law for Pacific and Tolerant Coexistence.
Gustavo Mohme, IAPA president and editor of the Peruvian newspaper La República, who is heading an international delegation of the organization that is visiting Ecuador, expressed his condemnation and rejection "of the government reprisal against one of the few independent media that remain in the country which survive despite the repressive policy of the government."
Roberto Rock, chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, added from Quito that the government "continues with its determination to subdue and silence independent media and all form of communication that does not follow the official discourse."
Rock, director of the Mexican news portal La Silla Rota, added, "We fear that following the internationally questioned electoral process there will be begun a new wave of repression."
The editor-in-chief of El Nacional, Miguel Henrique Otero, considered that the administrative proceedings against his newspaper's Web site "is a political retaliation." Otero, who is also vice president of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information for Venezuela, declared that "this attack will not silence us" and there would be no self-censorship. He announced that legal actions to confront the measure are being studied.
Mohme and Rock referred to the repeated denunciation by the IAPA of the existence of the strategic and structured plan by the government to put an end to news media and the independent press through the use of various legal, juridical and economic mechanisms to destroy them.
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.