Third Venezuelan news outlet attacked in a week

By Isabela Fraga

Armed individuals opened fire against the headquarters of a newspaper in the state of Zulia, in northeast Venezuela, on the night of Sunday, June 3, reported La Nación. This is the third attack in one week against news media outlets in the region.

The newspaper Versión Final, of the city of Maracaibo, reported on Monday, June 4, that its headquarters was shot nine times; two of the shots were fired at the security guard's watch-box.

"No employees were hurt, thanks to the rigorous prevention protocols of our security team" and "the incident didn't affect the newspaper's circulation," said Alexander Montilla, director of Versión Final, reported the news agency EFE.

About the motives of the attack, Montilla said in a statement that the newspaper is waiting for the police report to make any claims, according to the Globovisión.

Also, on Monday, May 28, the newspaper building of Qué Pasa was attacked by a grenade that damaged the front side of the building, but no one was hurt. On May 29, the public TV broadcaster of Catatumbo suffered an armed attack. The directors of the news outlets, both from Maracaibo, say the attacks were linked to political motives.

The Inter American Press Association condemned the attacks against journalists and Venezuelan news media. The National Association of Journalists of Zulia condemned the attacks and said that the acts against press freedom in the region should not remain unpunished.

Venezuela has suffered a gradual weakening in press freedom during the last years, according to a 2011 report published by Freedom House. Recently, Amnesty International and the U.S. government complained, in human rights reports, about restrictions of press freedom in the country, under the administration of Hugo Chávez.

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.