CARACAS – Twelve Venezuelan journalists handing out leaflets in favor of press freedom were injured on Thursday by supporters of leftist President Hugo Chavez.
Marcos Ruiz, a reporter for Caracas daily Ultimas Noticias, was punched and beaten with clubs by at least four assailants, colleague Gledys Pastrana told Efe.
She said Ruiz was taken to the emergency room.
All of the journalists who were handing out leaflets to motorists and pedestrians on a busy street in the capital are employees of the Cadena Capriles group, one of Venezuela’s biggest media companies.
Besides Ultimas Noticias, Capriles publishes two business newspapers: El Mundo Economia and Negocios, and the sports daily Lider.
The Chavez partisans arrived on the scene shouting “revolution” and “this street belongs to the people” and then pounced on the journalists, Pastrana said.
“We were there to peacefully distribute flyers and we were savagely beaten,” said reporter Ubaldo Arrieta.
The incident “is not a demonstration of respect for human rights,” Cadena Capriles’ president, Miguel Angel Capriles, told Venezuelan media.
Venezuela has been hauled before the Inter-American Human Rights Commission on several occasions to answer complaints about attacks on news professionals, proceedings that resulted in orders to the government in Caracas to provide protection to specific journalists and outlets.
Most of Venezuela’s private media are outspokenly opposed to the Chavez government.