Venezuelan State TV reporters beaten at opposition political rally

By Isabela Fraga

A group of reporters for the Venezuelan State television channel VTV were beaten during a meeting of the Democratic Unity Table (MUD in Spanish), a coalition of political parties opposed to President Hugo Chávez's administration, reported the Press and Society Institute (IPYS in Spanish). Around 20 bodyguards for the mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma, started attacking the reporters during the MUD president's speech.

VTV cameraman Carlos Chacón suffered several head traumas and broke his clavicle, reported the radio station Alba Cuidad, according to IPYS. Journalist Jeisson Rausseo, of Ola Bolivariana, told the station that in the middle of the speech a group of "black shirts with neo-Nazi tendencies" raised a sign reading "We're not MUD, we're not Chavistas, we're nationalists."

According to VTV journalist Pedro Carvajalino, MUD President Ramón Guillermo Aveledo called the black shirts' protest an "act of provocation by the government" and pointed out that the VTV crew worked for the State, which allegedly provoked the attack.

Venezuelan Information Minister Ernesto Villegas lamented the situation, "It's an opportune moment for us to reflect, the way political leaders organize these public events is crucial so that Venezuela can have a democratic debate," according to the Venezuelan News Agency.

The National Journalists' Union of Caracas also expressed its concern and highlighted a section of the country's constitution that says, "There are not two kinds of Venezuelans, there are not two kinds of journalists, there are not two kinds of communicators."

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.