Journalist in western Venezuela attacked, threatened, dismissed from job and briefly detained

A journalist who has reported being threatened multiple times and then being dismissed from his job this month was briefly detained by officials in the city of Coro in western Venezuela.

Officials from the Scientific, Penal and Criminal Investigations Body (CICPC for its acronym in Spanish) detained Félix Amaya on Oct. 20, the National Association of Press Workers of Venezuela (SNTP) reported on Twitter. Shortly after, the organization posted that he was freed. The reason for his detention has not been reported.

Just two days before, SNTP said not only that Amaya had been dismissed from his job, but that there was an attack on his home.

On Oct. 18, Amaya was dismissed from El Amanecer Radio, a station where he hosted a call-in program for citizen complaints.

“The journalist Felix Amaya said that at the time of the dismissal from #ElAmanecerRadio, they explained to him that it was an order of the mayor of #Coro,” SNTP wrote.

My boss called me and told me that he could not keep my program and showed me his phone...it had a message that said, get that dwarf off the air because they are going to seize the equipment and tell him to take care,” Amaya told El Universal. Another message: “We do not want to act against you, take Félix Amaya off the air as soon as possible they are going to seize the equipment from you and tell him to take care of himself.”

According to www.brolleros.com.ve – a site where Amaya is news editor – two government officials sent the threats to the owner of El Amanecer because of an opinion article published on brolleros.com.ve.

At almost midnight that same day, thirteen shots were fired at the journalist’s house. He told El Universal that one shot hit the refrigerator, another the door of his son’s room, another centimeters from his bed and another outside his home.

According to the publication, Amaya said the actions are not against him, but against a journalist that criticizes the current government.

“If I start to do another job, another journalist will come who wants to put the clamor of people on the air and this is what awaits colleagues, lead,” the journalist told El Universal.

The SNTP accompanied Amaya to the public prosecutor to make a complaint against two officials from whom he has received threats.

Venezuelan freedom of expression organization Espacio Público said he has received threats since 2015 because of his critical stance toward the government.

Earlier this month, SNTP reported that a Molotov cocktail was thrown at Amaya’s house at 2 a.m. on Oct. 4.

He was also beaten four years ago while walking down the street, according to El Universal. The newspaper added that two motorcyclists shot at him several times two years ago.

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.

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