Journalists looking to cover the October Venezuelan elections in a fair manner face all sorts of hurdles. Not the least of which are the laws and regulations set up by the Chavez government to silence criticism.
The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers presented the concerns of the few remaining independent news outlets in Venezuela.
[A]s elections approach, many in Venezuela fear the grip might tighten yet further. “Attacks against journalists peak during election years,” explained Marianela Balbi, executive director of Press and Society Institute of Venezuela (IPYS), a local media watchdog. “This election is the most important one since Chavez’ arrival to power, and therefore we fear the highest peak ever recorded”.
The increasing electoral tension is already translating into an increase in attacks against the media. A team of journalists from daily newspaper El Universal received an anonymous threat on 1 June demanding they stop investigating conditions in Venezuelan prisons. Their reporting was initiated by a two-week-long riot in April by prisoners in La Planta jail in Caracas, which resulted in the death of nine people. Journalists María Isoliett Iglesias, Deivis Ramírez, Tomás Ramírez González and Luis García filed a complaint with the Public Prosecutor’s Office demanding protection, which was granted by the Venezuelan Attorney General’s Office.