Venezuela seeks to punish paper for anti-Chávez satire

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  • February 2, 2010

By Joseph Vavrus

Adding to a litany of recent attacks on press freedom, the Ministry of Communications and Information plans to ask prosecutors to punish Tal Cual for an editorial describing a Venezuela without President Hugo Chávez, ABC.es reports.

The editorial, “Venezuela without Esteban” (republished in Spanish by Infolatam and translated into English by The Devil’s Excrement blog), narrates a hypothetical first day, first month, and all the way to 100 years with “Esteban” in exile in Cuba while the country slowly recovers politically and economically.

In a statement, quoted by ABC.es, the Ministry said the editorial represents “an aggression, a provocation, and a disrespect to Venezuelan democracy," as well as an “incitement to violence" and "an invitation for a genocidal, terrorist coup that is masked through humor.” It has asked for a range of punishments for those responsible, including jail time and closure.

The author of the piece, Laureano Márquez, denied that his article hid a plan for a coup or assassination, saying “I only tried to present how Venezuela would be once the president relinquished power,” El Universal reports.

This isn’t the first time that Tal Cual and Márquez have clashed with the Chávez government. In 2007, the paper and humorist were fined for a hypothetical dialogue between the president and his 9-year-old daughter.

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.