The Press and Society Institute (IPYS in Spanish) of Venezuela recorded 19 incidents that affected press freedom in the country during the presidential elections that took place on Sunday, Oct. 7, the group said in a report released on Oct. 11. According to IPYS Venezuela, the events happened between the week before the elections and the days after the results were announced.
IPYS said the events reflected the trend of violence leading up to the elections. Between January and September 2012, the group identified 173 violations against press freedom, an uptick from the same period in 2011, which saw 94.
The report noted that most violations of press freedom fell in two categories: first, government restriction of media access to voting centers and second, abuse of state power through physical and digital attacks on journalists, persecution, intimidation and threats.
For example, while the country waited for the official results of the election, 50 people identified as government supporters met up in front of the independent television station Globovisión and set off fireworks in a menacing way while shouting official slogans. IPYS also reported beatings of photojournalists and shots fired outside the National Election Council's press area, along with armed individuals following reporters, insults, accusations of terrorism and expulsion from voting centers.
International press also faced problems during their coverage. IPYS reported the denial of a reporter's visa and the beating of another journalist, among others. The best known case, however, involved Argentine journalist Jorge Lanata who, along with his reporting team, was detained and interrogated on two occasions by the Venezuelan intelligence service and followed during his stay in the Andean country.
IPYS Venezuela concluded its report urging the authorities to take steps to guarantee adequate conditions for journalists and media to do their job.
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.