MIAMI -- The internatonal press is calling on the government of Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro to immediately release journalist Jim Wyss, the Andean correspondent of The Miami Herald and McClatchy newspapers, who has been detained since Thursday.
Wyss is based in Bogotá, from where he travels around Latin America. He was detained last night in San Cristóbal in the Venezuelan state of Táchira, where he was reporting on upcoming municipal elections and the shortage of first necessity consumer goods.
He was transferred this afternoon to Caracas and remains in jail. Official sources of the Venezuelan National Guard, the Military Intelligence Headquarters and the newspaper itself were not able to provide any information about whether Wyss will be released or face charges. He is meanwhile being held in solitary confinement.
“We are very concerned,” said Aminda Marqués Gonzalez, the Miami Herald’s executive editor. “There doesn’t seem to be any basis for his detention and we’re trying to figure out what’s going on. We are asking that Jim Wyss be released immediately.”
Claudio Paolillo, chairman of the International American Press Association (IAPA)’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, also called on Venezuelan authorities for the “immediate release of the journalist” and said he was bewildered by a “new demonstration of intolerance by a regime that day after day shows its contempt for the work of journalists and freedom of the press.”
“We call for good sense,” added Paolillo, editor of the Montevideo, Uruguay, weekly Búsqueda, “and that President Maduro’s government does not trample on the principles of international conventions regarding due respect for the work of foreign correspondents and that it does not restrict their ability to move about and communicate.”
Paolillo added that the detention of the correspondent “is a an affront to the international community and its right to know.”
The last report by Wyss on Venezuela published some days ago by The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald referred to political and diplomatic disagreements between United States and Venezuelan authorities.
Maduro in a speech on Wednesday on the economic problems facing the country read from a report that he called an Opposition blueprint for taking over Venezuela. In it, he named the Miami Herald as one of the press organizations that will be used to cause dissention:
Last week, three journalists for the Caracas daily 2001 were attacked and arrested for several hours while covering a Caracas Christmas Fair just as the people lining up to buy goods at a Mercal government supermarket broke down the security barriers and began looting. Maduro insisted that the journalists had been sent to "provoke violence."