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Venezuela12 September 2002

Reporters Without Borders calls for investigation into attacks on several journalists

Reporters Without Borders has expressed concern over attacks on several journalists during recent pro- and anti-government demonstrations. In a letter addressed to Minister of the Interior and Justice Diosdado Cabello, the organisation has asked that investigations be undertaken to shed light on these attacks. "It is worrying for press freedom in Venezuela that more and more journalists are becoming the victims of intolerance," stated Reporters Without Borders Secretary General Robert Ménard. "It is imperative that those responsible are identified and brought to justice," he added.

On 9 September 2002, Carlos Eduardo Delgado, a camera operator for local television station CMT, was struck while covering a demonstration by supporters of President Hugo Chávez in Caracas. The demonstrators harassed members of the press, yelling "get out media sell-outs," and calling Channel CMT "imperialist and coup supporters."

Three days before, Aymara Lorenzo, of Globovisión TV, and Luisana Ríos, of RCTV, were attacked while covering a clash between supporters and opponents of President Chávez in front of the Fort Tiuna military base in Caracas. Various journalists were insulted by government supporters, who accused the TV stations of frequently criticising the government’s administration. Chávez supporters also criticised the TV station’s coverage of attempted coup against the president in April 2002. The TV stations did not show any images of the demonstrations supporting President Chávez after he was removed from power for 48 hours.

On 5 September, journalist Vanessa Camargo of the public TV station Venezolana de Televisión was threatened while covering a demonstration against the government in La Guaira (in the state of Vargas, north of Caracas). The demonstrators asked her to leave the area. They assaulted the reporter and the TV station’s camera operator, accusing them of favouring President Chávez, and damaged the news crew’s vehicle (see IFEX alert of 12 September 2002.)



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