Venezuelan journalist among four winners of CPJ press freedom award

Laureano Márquez will be one of the journalists to receive an International Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Project Journalists (CPJ) in November for having “risked their freedom and security to report the truth as they see it in their countries.”

Márquez, 47, is described by CPJ as a “journalist, author, actor, and humorist” who “has found rich fodder in Venezuela’s idiosyncratic political landscape.” He is “the scourge of left-wing President Hugo Chávez and other politicians for his biting columns in the Caracas-based daily Tal Cual and other national publications.”

In February 2007, Márquez and Tal Cual were fined for publishing a satirical “letter” to Chávez’s daughter, who was nine at the time, in which they asked that she influence her father to treat his political opponents better. In January 2010, in another satirical piece, Márquez imagined a Venezuela free of oppression by a ruler named “Esteban” in a veiled allusion to Chávez. The Ministry of Communication and Information considered the editorial to be “an aggression against Venezuelan democracy” and “an invitation to a coup.” The ministry also called for the publication to be closed and for those responsible to be jailed.

The other journalists who will receive the CPJ prize at a Nov. 23 ceremony are Dawit Kebede, of Ethiopia; Nadira Isayeva, of Russia; and Mohammad Davar, of Iran. The president of the Open Society Institute, Aryeh Neier, will also receive the Burton Benjamin Memorial Award for his career defending press freedom and human rights.

"The winners of the 2010 International Press Freedom Awards have endured violence, threats, imprisonment, and even torture because of their work as journalists," CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said. "We honor and support their independence and courage."

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.ven

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