Press groups criticize injunction closing Venezuelan weekly

The National Journalists Union of Venezuela (CNP in Spanish) and the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) criticized the injunction prohibiting the publication and distribution of the satirical weekly 6to Poder.

CNP declared a day of mourning for the closing of the weekly on Aug. 28. "We demand the national authorities immediately suspend this injunction as it affects not only the positions of those working there but also threatens the free practice of independent journalism and criticism, one of the pillars of modern democracies," the group said in a statement.

Inter-American Press Association President Gonzalo Marroquín said the ban was "an abuse of power that encroaches on the Venezuelan people's right to information," reported the Associated Press.

The Caracas court issued the injunction to prohibit the publication and distribution of the satirical weekly when 6to Poder intended to use a photo montage showing several female public officials as cabaret dancers on the cover. Authorities found the cover offensive.

The closing of the weekly generated as much debate as the photo montage in Venezuela, highlighting the need for a debate on freedom of expression in the Andean country, noted Radio Nederland. According to media analyst Miguel Pérez Pirela, one of the goals of this debate would be "to end the practice some media outlets use to provoke the state into taking action that pits the government against the international community."

Claudio Paolillo, president of the Inter-American Press Association's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, noted that freedom of expression only exists "when acerbic criticisms, even in bad taste, are tolerated by governments that are voluntarily subject to public scrutiny."