78th General Assembly

October 27 – 30, 2022

Madrid, Spain


During this period, it can be said that independent journalism ceased to exist in the country - as the government increased repression on journalistic activity and stepped up censorship by blocking and shutting down digital media and radio stations.

For some time now, the written press has practically disappeared. It is impossible to acquire newsprint. There is no printing press willing or able to produce a publication with news contrary to the interests of the regime.

Independent radio and television stations are subject to the Law of Social Responsibility in Radio and Television - a discretionary and punitive regulation that gives unlimited powers to the regulatory entity to impose absolute censorship.

Independent media that managed to migrate to the Internet are blocked by instructions of the regulating entity - via telephone companies.

In a country where there are more than nine thousand protests per year, journalists take great risks when covering such events - due to the violence of officials, the threat of prison or the confiscation of their equipment.

Journalist Roland Carreño, who has been detained since October 26, 2020, continues to be imprisoned. He was charged with the crimes of "financing terrorism", "conspiracy against the political form", "illicit trafficking of weapons of war" and "association to commit a crime". Carreño is a member of the opposition party Voluntad Popular, led by Leopoldo López. His trial began in May and only the declarations of an expert and a witness were missing to conclude the process. However, the judge in the case requested a medical leave of absence, which annuls all the proceedings before his court and a new date must be set to restart the trial. Carreño was a journalist of El Nacional and a collaborator of the television channels Globovisión and Televén.

In the last six months, the regime decided to shut down 41 radio stations throughout the country - not all of them news stations. Any trifle becomes an excuse to cancel the concessions - which are then transferred to persons linked to the government.

The blocking of news websites is massive. According to the organization VE sin Filtro, since 2021, 59 websites from 68 domains were blocked, including 45 media outlets, eight portals with political content, four of multimedia content and three of human rights organizations. Among the international media blocked are CNN, Infobae and NTN24. Conatel, the regulatory entity, blocks the sites via the three telephone companies which provide Internet services: CANTV, a state-owned telephone company; Digitel, a private national company - owned by the heirs of Oswaldo Cisneros - and Telefónica, a Spanish multinational company.

The companies argue that they comply with the existing laws - although the Law of Social Responsibility in Radio and Television is unconstitutional. The case of Telefónica is more serious, because European multinational companies are subject to specific codes which state that a national law cannot be above European legislation on human rights.

The pro-government congressman Jesús Faría admitted in Globovisión that the government blocks digital media - arguing that the same method is used in Europe to combat hate messages.

The report "Unequal Connection," published in April by the Press and Society Institute of Venezuela (IPYS Venezuela), highlighted the setbacks in Internet access due to the deterioration of the infrastructure, the lack of maintenance, the freezing of tariffs and the government's discouragement of investments. According to a June report by Telefónica, Movistar's parent company, 20.50% of connections or lines were intercepted in the country during 2021 - while only 1% were intercepted in other countries where the company operates. 67.9% were at the request of the government. Seven times more than in 2016.

Another relevant development in this period is the closure of radio stations under the pretext of not having an operating permit - when in reality they are closed in retaliation for their editorial line.

On April 29, Conatel took off the air and confiscated the equipment of the radio station Éxitos 90.5 FM, in San Juan de los Morros, Guárico state. The entity alleged that the radio station did not have a concession and seized its transmission and operating equipment.

They also seized the equipment of the radio station Candela 92.9 FM in Cojedes, and on July 15 Conatel closed three other radio stations in San Carlos, Cojedes: Moda 105.1FM, Nex 100.1FM and Hits 92.5FM - because they did not have a license. Days later Candela 92.9FM, Impacto 91.7FM and Luna 95.5FM were also shut down.

On August 29 Pentagrama 107.3FM, of Ciudad Guayana, Bolivar state, went off the air after criminals ransacked the radio booth and stole 100 meters of cable and two transmitters.

On September 7, in Zulia state, Conatel ordered the closure of nine radio stations in Maracaibo and San Francisco - alleging an "order from the minister." The stations closed: Sensacional Estéreo 88.5 FM, Zulia Mía 91.3 FM, KP 92.9 FM, Refugio 94.3 FM, Palabra 97.3 FM, High Class 98.1 FM, Destino 98.3 FM, Radiolandia 103.3 FM and Río Stereo 107.7. And days later ordered the closure of other radio stations in Ciudad Ojeda, Zulia: Suave 102.7 FM and Candela 88.3 FM.

On September 14, an official closed two stations in Sucre, Café 100.4 FM and NVH Radio 102.1 FM. Other radio stations received closure warnings, among them Centeno 107.9 FM, Cool 101.3 FM, Mágica 95.1 FM and Boom 89.7 FM.

On September 20, Conatel ordered the closure of Suprema 93.5 FM and Exitosa 92.7 FM in Cabimas, Zulia - due to lack of documentation.

On October 3, in Portuguesa, Conatel forced Sonora 107.7 FM to take off the air the opinion program "Frente al Paredón" - a program with 42 years of consecutive broadcasting, hosted by journalist Moisés Reyes.

On October 7, Conatel opened a document review process for the radio station Súper 101.5 FM, based in Ocumare del Tuy, Miranda. The management of the station decided to turn off its transmitters to avoid sanctions and denounced that they had applied to the authorities seven years ago for an operating permit.

On October, 13 Conatel closed the Christian radio stations Renuevo 89.5 FM, Celestial 96.9 FM, Jerusalén Estéreo 98.5 FM and Gilgal Estéreo 102.7 FM, in Cabimas, Zulia. The permits were processed in 2004.

Other outstanding developments in this period:

On May 2, the 3rd Court of First Instance with jurisdiction in terrorism ordered the deferral of the first trial hearing in the case against journalist Roland Carreño to the above date - after 18 months in custody.

On May 30, workers of the El Tigre mayor's office began a smear campaign with false information against the news portal El Vistazo de Anzoátegui.

On June 27, Journalist's Day, the National Union of Press Workers (SNTP) revealed that the main obstacles to journalistic activities are the scant access to information, the lack of sources of employment due to the disappearance of the media and low salaries. It also pointed out censorship and that journalists are intimidated, threatened, assaulted and detained while covering the news.

Michelle Bachelet - the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights - denounced on June 29 the stigmatization and criminalization of activists and the use of "anti-terrorist" laws against journalists. At the Human Rights Council, Bachelet warned about restrictions on civic space and the use of state media to discredit dissident voices. Her report documented 84 cases of harassment, censorship and seizure of journalists' and media outlets' equipment last year.

On July 1, the NTN24 channel reduced its operations in the country to only two reporters - after being under constant siege by the government.

On July 2, a harassment and smear campaign began on social networks against the native digital media Portuguesa Reporta and the portal Vamos Acarigua.

On July 28, the Police of Portuguesa, in Araure, forced journalist Nayari González - of Portuguesa Televisión - to delete material on the eviction of informal merchants outside the "Casal Ramos" Hospital.

On August 1, the mayor of Campo Elías municipality in Mérida, Simón Figueroa, called the program "Buenos Días" on Ritmo Stereo 93.5FM to accuse journalist Pablo Villa of paying people to denounce the social problems reported in the program. He also accused him of conducting a campaign to discredit him and to damage the mayors - also Chavistas - Jesús Araque, of the Libertador municipality, and Aron Varela, of Sucre.

On August 9, journalist Yelitza Figueroa - correspondent of Crónica Uno in Lara - was intimidated while covering a protest of merchants at the Commercial Center of Popular Economy in Barquisimeto. Administrators of the Condominium Board photographed her credentials.

On August 12, the National College of Journalists, an academic union and private citizens protested publicly in San Carlos against the closing of media outlets - and filed a complaint before the Ombudsman's Office.

On August 22, military and Corpoelec officials in Barquisimeto, Lara state, photographed and tried to prevent the work of journalists and reporters of Crónica Uno, La Prensa de Lara and El Impulso - who were covering an Assembly of retirees.

On August 31, Elvis Rivas - Globovision's correspondent in Merida - was attacked on social networks by the president of Teleféricos de Venezuela, Victor Cruz - who accused him of being an "opportunist" over a publication on the reopening of the cable car.

On September 8, the case of journalist Elides Rojas was closed. The three-year investigation for alleged incitement to hatred was finally suspended - during that period he was subjected to a criminal trial and forbidden to leave the country. The closing of the case continues to be a violation of due process and represents a risk - since the law establishes the possibility of reopening it for investigation.

On September 25, in the context of the reopening of the border between Venezuela and Colombia, journalist Freddy Ramírez was prevented from filming at the Simón Bolívar bridge on the Venezuelan side - a U.S. correspondent was also denied permission to film.

On September 29, the digital news media AlbertoNews denounced that its web portal was being subject to a DDos attack - denial of service - a frequent action suffered by other critical and independent media.

Tal Cual was the victim of a similar attack and detected unusual traffic coming from IP addresses controlled by Cantv - the state-owned telecommunications company. The restrictions in 2022 are added to the blockades that since February have prevented access to the newspaper El Nacional and the digital native media Efecto Cocuyo, Crónica Uno, EVTV Miami and TV Venezuela Noticias. More than 50 media outlets have been blocked - including international media such as CNN, Infobae and NTN24.

On October 8, Conatel opened an administrative proceeding against the regional station Promar TV - of Lara state - for identifying Nicolás Maduro as "interim president of Venezuela."

On October 10, A/J Remigio Ceballos - Interior and Justice Minister - said that no journalists from any private company were allowed access to a natural disaster area because "the state channel was reporting on the situation."