By Isabela Fraga
On Wednesday, June 5, former President Hugo Chávez posthumously received the National Journalism Award Simón Bolívar, reported newspaper El Universal. After his death on March 5 this year, Chávez was lauded as the "supreme leader of the Bolivarian Revolution for his support of the country's public and popular media during his administration." His family will receive the award on his behalf on June 27, the Day of the Journalist in Venezuela, news site Noticias al Día said.
Even though the award's jury celebrated Chávez for his "role in fighting lies and mediatic manipulation," the relationship between the former president and the country's private media outlets was always tense.
Thus, it was not surprising that the award generated critical reactions from several journalism groups. The National Association of Journalists in Caracas (CNP Caracas in Spanish), for instance, published a press release rejecting the award. According to CNP, Chávez was "responsible for the closure of countless media outlets during his government (RCTV, 33 radio stations), leaving dozens of colleagues without a job." The group added that it does not recognize awards given to people who are not communication professionals, social communication university graduates, or CNP members.
Venezuela's communications minister Ernesto Villegas criticized the organization's position and called it "anachronic" and "corporatist," El Nacional informed. "With Chávez, communication rights were expanded in the Bolivarian Constitution, as well as in their everyday practice," he said.
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.