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  HOME | Venezuela (Click here for more Venezuela news)

VenEconomy: The Battered Freedom of Expression in Venezuela

From the Editors of VenEconomy

On Wednesday, the Venezuelan government gave the world another sample of its retrograde and dictatorial nature, by preventing Venezuelan journalist and politician Teodoro Petkoff from traveling to Madrid to receive the Ortega y Gasset Journalism Award 2015.

Venezuela has become a prison for Petkoff, as also has for former opposition lawmaker María Corina Machado and many other Venezuelans who have been banned from leaving the country for spurious political trials against them.

The measure against Petkoff is the result of a lawsuit filed by Diosdado Cabello, the head of both the Parliament and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), for publishing in his newspaper TalCual a story from Spain-based daily ABC denouncing the alleged ties of Cabello with drug trafficking. Apart from Petkoff, the lawsuit extends to shareholders, directors, editorial board and owners of TalCual, as well as to other media outlets such as daily El Nacional and La Patilla, a news portal.

Although the impact this may have on his image at international level is not likely to make Nicolás Maduro depart from the path of dictatorship and communicational hegemony, this fact has revealed even more about the oppressive nature of the Government and "describes well the situation of the country," Petkoff told the community of politics, culture and international economy.

The move of the Venezuelan government of having prevented the TalCual editor-in-chief from receiving his journalism award in person was harshly criticized by nearly everyone, while Petkoff grew in strength.

On the one hand, it was very meaningful that former Spain’s Prime Minister and socialist politician, Felipe González, was the one to collect the award on his behalf. And on the other, that famed Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa had expressed in the award ceremony that the absence of Petkoff "has proved that the Chávez regime, and now that of Maduro, is not as they claim it to be, a progressive regime with important social reforms, but rather authoritarian, tyrannical and populist" and argued that this is "an example of serenity, democratic action and spirit of resistance in a country where the opposition is being harassed, persecuted, imprisoned, fined and prosecuted. They haven’t been able to break him."

This demonstration of authoritarianism and tyranny is also being reflected in the results of studies on freedom of expression and information. For example, Venezuela was classified as "not free" and ranked 186th out of 199 countries evaluated in the Global Report on freedom of expression conducted annually by Freedom House, an NGO based in Washington, D.C. Freedom House cited an increase in attacks and threats against journalists; the lack of media ownership; an economic siege endangering the viability of the written press and the use of laws to silence criticism. Or as also shown by the Index of Press Freedom by local NGO Reporteros sin Fronteras (reporters without borders), Venezuela fell 21 points to occupy the position 137 (out of 180 countries.)

It should be remembered, as pointed out this week by the Venezuelan Union of Press Workers (SNTP), that there are currently about 20 laws, codes, rules and regulations that directly or indirectly establish control over communications in Venezuela.

This loss of freedom of expression and information is a mechanism of control of the population that must be tackled by all citizens, because the exercise of other freedoms and life in democracy depend on this particular one.

VenEconomy has been a leading provider of consultancy on financial, political and economic data in Venezuela since 1982.

Click here to read this in Spanish



 

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