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Venezuela5 March 2004

Demonstrators continue to target the media

At least four fresh attacks have been reported against journalists or the media since 2 March, two of which targeted pro-government media.

"Whoever was responsible, these latest attacks are unacceptable," said Reporters Without Borders. "It is time to end this climate of extremism towards the media and that exists also within the media."

The international press freedom organisation once again urged the authorities to open investigations into these press freedom violations and for those responsible to be punished.

The Venezuelan journalists’ organisation "Los del Medio" says that 25 journalists or media have been targeted since 27 February, the first day of opposition-organised demonstrations.

Cameraman for the privately-owned Radio Caracas Televisión (RCTV) Carlos Colmenares was shot in the ankle while covering opposition demonstrations against the government in Caracas on 3 March. It was not known where the shot came from. The area had appeared relatively calm just before the shot was fired, bystanders said.

On the same day, soldiers forced Rafael Delgado, picture editor of the daily El Tiempo, that circulates in north-eastern Puerto La Cruz to erase photos he had just taken of a military security operation. The officer, who ordered him to wipe them, had threatened to take him to the barracks if he refused to co-operate.

Violent opposition demonstrators bombarded the main offices of public television Venezolana de Televisión (VTV) with a variety of missiles on 2 March. Its chairman Vladimir Villegas told a press conference the following day that company premises and staff had been come under repeated attacks and threats since 29 February. Overnight on 2-3 March demonstrators besieged the studios, hurling Molotov cocktails, stones and other objects at the building, preventing staff from coming in or out until far into the night.

Barricades had been erected at each end of the street and several witnesses reported hearing shots, but without knowing where they came from.

On 2 March, Adda Pérez and Victor Yépez, of community radio Máxima FM, broadcasting in Ciudad Ojeda, in western Zuila state were attacked by around 30 opposition supporters as they arrived at the home of one of them.

Yépez, who got out of the car to negotiate with the group of demonstrators that were blocking their path, was struck by one of them. Their vehicle was then stoned. Yépez said the attack was prompted by the fact they were journalists working for community media that the demonstrators accused them of being pro-government.

The Venezuelan opposition called on its supporters to take to the streets on 27 February after the national electoral council (CNE) questioned the validity of more than a million signatures that it had collected to press for a referendum on the resignation of President Hugo Chávez.

Read the former press release : "A dozen journalists assaulted and injured"

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in the annual report
Venezuela - Annual Report 2008
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