Newspeople, media outlets facing attacks in Venezuela

The Inter American Press Association Wednesday expressed concern at threats and attacks on journalists and news media in Venezuela in recent weeks. It urged the South American country’s authorities to identify and prosecute those responsible as the only way to prevent further violence.

Earlier this week a team of journalists from the Caracas newspaper El Universal, including María Isoliett Iglesias, Deivis Ramírez, Tomás Ramírez González and Luis García, filed a formal complaint with the public prosecutor’s office demanding protection and guarantees after receiving threats following their coverage of a jail riot that highlighted problems in the prison system.

The Venezuelan attorney general’s office ordered protection for the journalists who had written a series of special reports for El Universal on internal conditions in prisons, as a result of the events at the La Planta jail in the downtown Caracas neighborhood of El Paraíso, where in late April prisoners staged a two-week-long riot in which nine persons died.

The press advocacy group also condemned attacks May 24 against journalists belonging to the National Public Media System and other members of the press harassed during their coverage of the electoral campaign of opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles.

In another development, unidentified persons on a motorcycle shot up the front of the newspaper Versión Final in Zulia state, in the far northeast of Venezuela.

Also in Zulia, May 28 an explosive device was hurled at the plant of the Maracaibo newspaper Qué Pasa. The attack caused minor damage to the building’s façade. Two days later armed assailants opened fire on the studios of the regional television channel Catatumbo TV. According to local media the building was hit by 14 bullets. There were no reports of injuries in either of these two incidents.

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