IAPA condemns harassment of journalists and media in Nicaragua, Venezuela, Cuba

IAPA expressed alarm at the climate of lack of safety and the harassment of independent journalists and news media of these three countries.

Panel discussion on crisis in Nicaragua and Venezuela scheduled for General Assembly in Salta

MIAMI, Florida (September 18, 2018)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today expressed alarm at the climate of lack of safety and the harassment of independent journalists and news media in Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba that despite the violent restrictions continue reporting and exercising their right to press freedom.

Just a few weeks from the General Assembly to be held in Salta, Argentina, October 19-22 IAPA President Gustavo Mohme stressed that "we will be giving special attention to the journalists and media of these three countries who are facing serious situations of violence and instability."

Nicaragua continues demanding an end to the violence that since April this year has left between 322 and 481 dead and more than 300 arrested. In that same framework of socio-political crisis, the journalists have been victims of harassment, defamation on social media and threats for their coverage of the anti-government protests, the repression and the abuses coming from police forces.

Among the most recent denunciations are those by Tania Narváez, correspondent of El Nuevo Diario; Elba Molina, correspondent of Canal 10 television, and Marisol Montenegro, stringer of VosTV, of events that occurred in Carazo province. On September 16 journalists Uriel Velásquez and Nayira Valenzuela of El Nuevo Diario were stoned and chased by hooded assailants when they were covering an anti-government protest in Managua.

Mohme, of the Peruvian newspaper La República, recalled that the IAPA this year awarded the independent press of Nicaragua its Press Freedom Grand Prize for bravely facing the pressures and denouncing the indiscriminate violence of the Daniel Ortega government. The award is to be presented in a special act during the Salta meeting.

In the case of Venezuela just this year 26 newspapers cased circulating, 20 shut down definitively. The crisis is also seen worsening in the control by the government of the distribution of newsprint, the abusive use of legal and administrative proceedings against journalists and media, and the attacks on media websites.

Roberto Rock, chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, declared, "The dismantling of the media with independent editorial stances forms part of the official policy of the Nicolás Maduro regime, an inertia that has been maintained since the almost two decades of life of the Chávez regime. Since 2013 there have disappeared 55 newspapers, according to a study by the Press and Society Institute (IPYS).

Numerous Venezuelan journalists have also bee attacked and threatened, incidents that rarely have been denounced due to lack of confidence in the justice system.

Rock, of the Mexican news portal La Silla Rota, also referred with concern to Cuba, where since April this year, when Miguel Díaz-Canel assumed the Presidency, there have increased the arbitrary detentions and intimidation, among other methods used on any pretext by the political police (State Security) to suppress.

In August the Pro Press Freedom Association (APLP) based in Havana, documented 14 cases of repression of journalists and their families who are being threatened and intimidated. The journalists arrested, interrogated, intimidated or assaulted in various parts of the country in that period were: Mario Echeverría Driggs, of the Dos Mundos agency; Osniel Carmona Breijo, of Cubamedia Press and Cubanet; Adriana Zamora, Ernesto Corralero, and Borís González Arenas, stringers of Diario de Cuba; Henry Constantín and Iris Mariño, of La Hora de Cuba; Dagoberto Valdés, editor of the project and magazine Convivencia; Alejandro Hernández Cepero, Roberto Rodríguez Cardona and Luis Cino Álvarez, of CubaNet; Oscar Padilla Suárez, of the Red de Periodistas Comunitarios (Community Journalists Network); Odalina Guerrero Lara, APLP legal advisor, and José Antonio Fornaris Ramos, APLP journalist.

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.