By Teresa Mioli and Valeria Lopez de Vergara
Mexican journalist Abraham Torres reported he was denied entry at Simon Bolivar International Airport while on his way to a journalism festival hosted by digital news site Efecto Cocuyo.
Torres, who is also a professor at Universidad Iberoamericana Puebla, denounced the government of President Nicolas Maduro not allowing him to enter the country.
Torres, who said it was his first time going to Venezuela, told the Knight Center he presented his passport in Mexico City and Panama without any problems. When he arrived at the immigration area in the Venezuelan airport, he said he was going to a journalism festival and was a professor.
“And at that moment, they take my passport and what he did was to fold the two passport covers, or affix them, as if you were going to photocopy a book, from cover to cover, and it automatically broke, that is, the sheets of the passport book were detached from the glue and his argument was that I gave him a broken passport and I explained to him that it was not like that, that he broke it,” Torres said.
When a superior told him the employees couldn’t have broken the passport, Torres said he asked how he could have gotten on two planes and past three checkpoints with a broken passport. Although he was able to get in touch with the embassy who said they would help with a new passport, he said he was told he could not leave immigration. He was given a letter of non-admittance and had to take a plane back to Mexico, he explained.
Torres was on the schedule for Festival Cocuyo to speak about multimedia content and immersive narratives. Festival Cocuyo, which focused on innovation and communication in the region, took place in Caracas from June 28 to 29.
In addition to not being able to attend the festival, Torres said he also was not able to deliver medication he was taking to Venezuela for people in need.
Mariengracia Chirinos with IPYS Venezuela said the organization recorded seven immigration restrictions last year, with deportations, visa refusals and other procedures against foreign journalists who arrived in the country or who tried to travel there to cover protests. However, she said Torres’ case is the first in 2018.