Opposition candidate accuses Venezuela's interim president of using public media to boost campaign

By Isabela Fraga

The opposition candidate for President of Venezuela, Henrique Capriles, has accused Nicolás Maduro, the incumbent and anointed successor to the late Hugo Chávez, of using public media to benefit his campaign, reported the website Informe21.

“The system of public media has become the propaganda tool of a political party,” said Capriles during a press conference, reported AFP.  He also asked that the National Electoral Council (CNE) comply with electoral rules and be “impartial” in the elections.  According to Capriles, Maduro has appeared for more than 46 hours on public broadcaster Venezolana de Televisión since becoming interim president after Chávez’s death.

With two weeks until the elections, Maduro – who represents a continuation of Chávez’s government – has an 8-point lead over Capriles in a poll done by Datin Corp and used by CNN en Español.

On April 2, Reporters without Borders published an open letter to both candidates asking for a commitment to pluralism and freedom of expression.  “The April 14 election does not just entail a choice between different political programmes.  It also needs an in-depth public debate with equal airtime and respect for contrary opinions, which every candidate should guarantee.  It is time to leave behind the polarization, with constant insults and vilification, that has dominated the media landscape for so long,” said the letter.

During the Chávez government, the media landscape was marked by fierce disputes.  During the presidential elections in October of last year, private and public media companies produced competing versions of events and confrontations between the candidates, making the polarization of the media even starker.

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.