Venezuelan newspapers declared to be in emergency due to newsprint shortage

The 86 newspapers that are part of the Regional Chamber of Venezuelan Newspapers were declared to be "in emergency" after the organization learned that there is no paper to continue operations, according to the newspaper La Nación in the Venezuelan state of Tachira.

According to the Chamber, the state-owned company Complejo Editorial Alfredo Maneiro (CEAM for its acronym in Spanish) reported that no newsprint is available for newspapers. CEAM is the only entity authorized by the government to provide the necessary paper and plates for the printing of about 90 newspapers circulating in Venezuela, the website El Tiempo reported.

Joselin Ramírez, president of the Chamber of Regional Newspapers, said it was the president of the CEAM, Hugo Cabezas, who informed her of the situation. Ramírez also said that the allocation of newsprint made by CEAM declined 40 percent this month. The 1,000 tons normally sold fell to 400 tons, according to PR Noticias.

"The situation is very worrying and critical, since about 90 newspapers in the country are at risk and with those, information for the people and the employment of thousands of people,” Ramírez said, according to La Nación.

Also on Wednesday, Ramirez and the heads of other newspapers met with the Minister of Popular Power for Communication and Information, Luis José Marcano, looking for solutions to the problem of the supply of paper and other supplies, according to the website Última Hora.

The Minister said he has met with the Minister of the Office of the Secretary and with the president of the Central Bank of Venezuela to monitor the process of importation of these supplies, Última Hora said.

Ramirez said she hopes to meet with the country's president, Nicolás Maduro, to find solutions to the problem, La Nación reported.

For its part, the National Assembly announced that it called the president of CEAM to appear, "due to the disaster that has been happening with newsprint," Última Hora reported. For the president of the Media Commission of the National Assembly "the importation (of paper) has been kidnapped by the government," and therefore they want to show solidarity with the media that have circulation problems, the portal added.

The shortage of newsprint and other raw materials is not just an economic problem but one that involves complaints against the government that it is using this as an instrument of censorship, and therefore, affecting freedom of expression and of information for Venezuelans.

[For more context concerning Venezuela’s newsprint shortage, please see the original version of this post in Spanish.]

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.