Venezuela’s largest independent newspaper will stop circulating in print after Dec. 14 and will turn its attention to its website.
"Tomorrow we will publish the last printed copy, for now, of El Nacional," Miguel Henrique Otero, president of the newspaper, said in a video posted to Twitter. "El Nacional is a great newspaper of reference for Venezuela and for many in Latin America, which we have to be proud of having achieved that extraordinary people have participated in the development of the newspaper for years, that journalists have fought as they have so far, and that it is an internationally recognized newspaper."
— Miguel H Otero (@miguelhotero) December 13, 2018
“They have managed to silence radio and television, and have made the independent print media disappear, turning them into web platforms,” Otero said, according to Spanish newspaper ABC. “We were the last national newspaper that maintained a print edition.”
Otero told ABC that Chavismo used various tactics to put an end to the paper. He included physical aggression from armed civilian groups called colectivos, the use of courts, taxation, smear campaigns and more.
Otero himself has been in exile since 2015 as the result of a defamation suit from Diosdado Cabello, former speaker of the National Assembly of Venezuela. El Nacional had re-published an article from ABC about alleged links between Cabello and drug trafficking.
However, ABC pointed to the supply of paper as the main issue related to the closure.
To import newsprint, media must request the approval of foreign currency at exceedingly high rates. Moreover, the state-owned company Complejo Editorial Alfredo Maneiro (CEAM for its acronym in Spanish), which distributes the paper and plates needed for printing, has been accused of using newsprint as a tool to censor.
More than 70 newspapers have stopped circulation due to the print crisis, according to freedom of expression organization Espacio Público.
“We lasted longer than the others because there was solidarity from other Latin American newspapers to keep printing, but in the end we could not resist,” Otero told ABC.
El Nacional stopped circulating two days of the week in August of this year in order to optimize resources.
Last month, the publication purchased paper “three times over its value in the international market,” according to a statement signed by general manager Jorge Makriniotis, which was published on El Nacional’s site.
The newspaper, which has been in distribution for 75 years, said it will now strengthen its website.
“We are working on a training schedule for all those that require it so that in the next months we will start with a robust digital newsroom, a great newsroom that will make El Nacional remain a continental reference in terms of journalism,” the statement from Makriniotis said.
That website also has been blocked for readers in Venezuela at different times over the last year.