IAPA: Press freedom is deteriorating in Venezuela

Por Venezuela Real - 27 de Marzo, 2007, 18:06, Categoría: Estado de Derecho

El Universal - Venezuela
Daily News (english version)
March 23, 2007

Venezuela is intensifying a campaign against the media criticizing President Hugo Chávez' attempts at seizing freedom of expression for his self-proclaimed socialist revolution, the Inter-American Press Association said on Monday.

The association comprising the major newspapers in the Americas stressed in a report published Monday that President Chávez' recent decision not to renew the broadcasting license to TV network RCTV is an indication of deterioration of freedom of expression in the country, Reuters said.
"The process the Government of President Hugo Chávez has been developing in Venezuela to suppress freedom of expression and information involves increasingly serious and challenging actions, threats and incidents," IAPA said in its report on press freedom in the hemisphere, disclosed during its midyear assembly held in Colombian city of Cartagena de Indias.
The body also stressed that the Venezuelan Government is using official advertisements at its own discretion in order to bring the media "on their knees", and uses state-owned TV channels to "air programs almost entirely devoted to ideological indoctrination."
There has been "significant deterioration" in terms of freedom of the press in the Americas since last October, reported Monday the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA).
The organization noted the murder of eight journalists as the most serious cases, including seven in Mexico and one in Haiti. In addition, two Mexican reporters are missing and two dozens of journalists from Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Paraguay, Peru, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela are under threat of death.
The findings came in a paper drafted by the IAPA's Commission for Information and Press Freedom based on country reports. The document was approved following a thorough debate where corrections, changes and additions were made to the initial proposal.
Minister Lara calls IAPA report an offense

Venezuelan Communication and Information Minister William Lara spoke up against the report issued by the Inter-American Press Association.

Lara, also the leader of ruling party Movimiento Quinta República (MVR), considered that the criticism made in the paper is "an insult to democracy in Venezuela."
"Saying that there is not freedom of expression in the country is the most impudent lie. It could be said that Venezuela has eight stars in terms of freedom of expression. It is a champion for freedom of expression."
Government attack on freedom of expression denounced in New York

Representatives of opposition Comando Nacional de la Resistencia (National Resistance Command, CNR) complained in the United States about endangered freedom of expression in Venezuela, particularly impending cutoff of private TV channel RCTV.
CNR chair Oscar Pérez reported on a meeting with the board of the TV and Radio Museum in New York City, where evidence was produced about the assault on independent media by the Government of President Hugo Chávez.

"We had a talk with CEO Christy Carpenter and CFO John Walters. Both of them expressed interest and concern about the current situation of Venezuela's mass media and journalists," Pérez said.
As quoted in a press release from the organization, the leader was accompanied by Antonio Ledezma, Helen Fernández and Milos Alcalay. The board of the US entity undertook to spread this issue across the organizations, associations and related social communication groups in the United States.
Pérez noted that they would continue holding meetings and airing the domestic conditions as part of a global awareness and solidarity campaign.

Wednesday 21st
Chávez' refusal to renew RCTV license denounced in the US

Representatives of opposition Comando Nacional de la Resistencia (National Resistance Command, CNR) met in New York with Christopher Sabatini, the Senior Director for Policy at the Americas Society/Council of the Americas (AS/COA), and complained about Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez' Government plans to close down private Caracas-based 53-year-old TV network RCTV.

The CNE delegation, comprising Antonio Ledezma, Helen Fernández, Oscar Pérez and Milos Alcalay, is also visiting Washington, where they are to appear in the relevant international bodies to present the signatures they collected among Venezuelans rejecting the cutoff of RCTV and condemning the serious threats both the media and reporters face in Venezuela.

Ledezma, CNR spokesman, said they denounced that in Venezuela dissent is punished. "We have reported attacks on press freedom. The only goal Chávez has is organizing a single political party serving his personal plans."

International organization asks Venezuela to reconsider RCTV case

The Global Coordinating Committee of Press Freedom Organizations asked the Government of President Hugo Chávez to reconsider its decision not to renew the broadcasting license to private Caracas-based 53-year-old RCTV.

"Non-renewal of the license is to deprive the audience of the contents and information RCTV has provided over the last 53 years of operations," the organization said in a communiqué.

"The Coordinating Committee believes the Government should not infringe freedom of expression or cut the sources of information Venezuelans have available by arbitrarily refusing to renew a license."

Government action against RCTV denounced at OAS Members of opposition Comando Nacional de la Resistencia (National Resistance Command) met Wednesday in Washington with Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary-General José Miguel Insulza and Ignacio Álvarez, the special rapporteur for freedom of expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (Iachr).

The meeting was intended to discuss the issue of freedom of expression in Venezuela, particularly the case of private TV channel RCTV.

Antonio Ledezma, the chair of opposition Alianza Bravo Pueblo (ABP) and a Command member, told TV news channel Globovisión that they submitted to OAS a dossier on the channel case and a list of signatures by Venezuelans who refuse the government decision not to renew a broadcasting license to RCTV.

The officials expect a precautionary measure against the ruling announced by President Hugo Chávez.

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