Attacks on Venezuelan press to increase as presidential elections approach, warns newspaper group

By Isabela Fraga

With the Venezuelan presidential elections just three months away, attacks against the press and journalists will most likely increase, warned the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA). WAN-IFRA visited Venezuela from June 4-6 and found that independent media were polarized and weakened.

According to the WAN-IFRA, Hugo Chavez's 14 years of administration involved attacks against journalists, judicial harassment of news media outlets, restrictive legislation, unequal distribution of governmental advertising, and a large apparatus of official state media used to discredit opposition news outlets.

On June 6, the Inter American Press Association criticized the threats and attacks against journalists and news media in the country. In a recent report, Amnesty International criticized press freedom restrictions in the country under Chavez's administration. Another report made by the U.S. organization Freedom House came to similar conclusions.

Earlier in June, during just one week, three new media outlets in the country were attacked. A reporter from the newspaper El Universal also requested protection from the Venezuelan Public Ministry after receiving threats for reporting about prison conflicts.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.