Government assault debilitates Venezuelan private press

Venezuela’s independent press has been weakened by restrictive legislation, online attacks, and a vast state media empire as it struggles to cover vital issues in the lead-up to a heavily contested presidential race, the Committee to Protect Journalists found in a special report released this week.

“The gradual dismantling of Venezuela’s critical press over the last 13 years, coupled with smear campaigns on state media and judicial decisions that enable censorship, is a remarkable loss for citizens who need probing reporting, not propaganda, to make informed decisions,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas. “Authorities should reverse the legal measures that perpetuate censorship, feed polarization, and mute meaningful public debate.”

The government of President Hugo Chávez has used an array of legislation, threats, and regulatory measures to gradually break down the independent press while building up a state media empire, which has resulted in censorship on issues that affect the daily lives of Venezuelans, including rampant violence, water contamination, and the prison crisis, the CPJ report shows.

With Internet penetration among the highest in the region, the government has also expanded its intimidation of journalists online. The accounts of critical journalists are hacked and used to promote pro-government messages, according to CPJ’s report.

The report features an introduction by CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon and a podcast with CPJ’s Lauría. The report is also available in Spanish.

Programa Inglés como Segundo Idioma – ESL de la Parroquia de St. Mark, Vienna, VA

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