Venezuela convicts opposition leader to two years in prison for comments in an interview

A potential opposition presidential candidate and former state governor in Venezuela, Oswaldo Álvarez Paz, was convicted July 13 of “spreading false information” in a March 2010 interview with Globovisión, The Press and Society Institute and The Associated Press report.

The conviction is for statements Álvarez Paz made March 8, 2010 in which he said that Venezuela had become a haven for drug trafficking, El Universal Explains.

Among critics of the conviction are the Human Rights Foundation and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, both of whom see this as a means to persecute dissident voices, Venezuela Analysis reports. The director of Human Rights Watch’s Americas programs, José Miguel Vivanco, said the ruling “shows how the laws put in place by Chávez and his supporters to regulate public debate can be used to punish his critics.”

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.