Journalists attacked at protest against Venezuelan utility company

Reporters from Vive TV told prosecutors they were attacked by allies of Henri Falcón, the governor of the northeastern Venezuelan state of Lara, while covering a protest against the state’s water utility company, Hidrolara, Radio Nacional de Venezuela (RNV) reports.

Members of the Ataroa commune occupied the offices of the utility on May 20 to demand they fix overflowing sewers that are blamed for an increase in disease among residents, El Universal explains. This is the third time Ataroa residents have occupied Hidrolara’s officers.

According to another RNV article, while the Vive TV journalists were covering the occupation, they say government supporters “knocked over the [office’s] gate, entered, and beat members of the commune and attacked the Vive TV crew.” Journalist Leonardo Fernández said the attackers were accompanied by state police and the state’s director of public safety.

Additionally, Vive TV president Ricardo Márquez said that the station’s truck was vandalized and equipment was stolen during the incident, Venezolana de Televisión adds.

El Nacional reports that Governor Falcón accused the reporters of being part of the eight-hour occupation, which he called a “kidnapping.”

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.