On the occasion of the commemoration of the National Day of the Journalist, last June 27th, the National Assembly approved an agreement that ratifies the qualification of “high risk” the exercise of journalism in Venezuela and demands the GNB, PNB, Special Actions Force and the Judiciary at the service of the dictatorship, to cease their excessive actions, regarding the detention, seizure and destruction of journalistic material, as well as to decree arbitrary detentions and judicial procedures against the communicators who fulfill their duty to inform.
At the same time, it strongly condemns and denounces the violations of Venezuelans’ freedom of expression, and in particular those against the rights of journalists and the media.
Guardians of the truth
The beginning of this point of the Agenda counted first with the participation of Deputy Amelia Belisario, president of the Permanent Commission of People’s Power and Media of the NA, who denounced the criminalization of truth in Venezuela and at the same time, exalted the work of the brave Venezuelan social communicators, who despite the pressure and persecution of the regime, continue to be guarantors and custodians of truth in Venezuela.
Likewise, she praised the journalists who have been called upon to demand respect for freedom of conscience, freedom of expression and the right to information of Venezuelans and who for the tyranny “have become dangerous for justly defending freedom of conscience.”
“The brave social communicators, the guardians of truth, you who have had to say and defend the truth with the latent risk of losing everything, even your lives. The country and future generations will always remember your heroic work of being the voice of millions of Venezuelans who cannot express themselves and show the world what is happening in the country,” she said.
Eradication of the Hate Law
After legislator Belisario, in homage to the Day of the Journalist, the National Assembly invited Tinedo Díaz, president of the National Association of Journalists (CNP), who on behalf of the organization ratified the recognition of the only legitimate National Assembly, headed by President Juan Guaidó and the more than 100 deputies, elected by more than 12 million Venezuelans through the popular vote and recognized by the international community.
According to information provided by Espacio Público, the Press and Society Institute, the Alliance for Freedom of Expression, the Institute for Communication Research in Venezuela, the National Union of Press Workers (SNTP) and the 26 branches of the CNP, all keep a record of attacks and violations of freedom of expression in flagrant violation of Articles 56, 57 and 337 of the National Constitution.
They reported more than 550 cases of attacks on freedom of expression, information and opinion and recalled the closure of RCTV and 42 stations of the Belford national radio circuit.
He referred to the aggressions and pressures from State agencies and institutions at the service of the regime, among which he mentioned Conatel which “has become a censor of content, more than an organization of a technical nature” and the application of the Hate Law, created and approved by the illegitimate ANC.”
Furthermore, he requested the plenary session of the National Assembly to eliminate the Hate Law, a text used by the administration of justice to decide on the conditional deprivation of liberty of journalists, either in common jails or under house arrest, and to submit them to the courts every 15 or 30 days.
“These are journalists who have felt the violation of the Labor Law, in which every communicator must comply with for his professional work,” said Guía.
21 years violating the right to information
Next up was Deputy Ángel Álvarez, vice-president of the Permanent Media Commission of the NA, he went on to say that one of the objectives of the regime during these 21 years of rule has been to obstruct access to information through “harassment, persecution, psychological lynching, imprisonment and direct attacks on freedom of expression”.
Furthermore, he said that all these violations found a “center of resistance, morality, gallantry and ethics” in Venezuelan journalists, who “risking their integrity, their lives and those of their families have fought for the truth that cannot be hidden about the economic and public service collapse, lack of justice and human rights violations in our country.”
200 aggressions in 2020
With the authorization of the president in charge and the parliament, Juan Guaidó, legislator Álvarez invited to speak journalist Marco Ruiz, secretary general of the National Press Workers’ Union (SNTP), who said that Venezuelan journalism faces as major challenge surviving a dictatorship that oppresses dissidence, criticism and pluralistic thinking.
He pointed out that the laws that have caused damage to the exercise of freedom of expression and the right to information and which demanded the urgent reform of the Law on Responsibility of Radio, Television and Electronic Media, which imposes prior censorship. Likewise, the Organic Law on Communications.
“Venezuelan journalism has not knelt down before the pretension of generating absolute silence and imposing a single line of thought. It is an old project that has not been able to move forward,” he said.
He explained that the SNTP registered at least 200 aggressions against Venezuelan social communicators so far in 2020 and stated that during the quarantine resulting from the Covid-19 virus pandemic, it has been more difficult to exercise journalism in the different regions of the country.
Ruiz insisted that the regime closes media outlets and denies the renewal of licenses to continue operating the radio-electric spectrum and the impossibility for print media to have access to newsprint, whose import and distribution is monopolized by the regime since 2014.
Figures on closed media
Through the communication platform Zoom, Deputy Milagros Eulate, explained that through Conatel the regime, from 2004 to 2019, closed 18 television channels; 165 radio stations; 42 newspapers and an infinite number of television and radio programs were taken off the air.
Eulate stressed that as a result of the policy of silencing the media, Venezuelan citizens in neighborhoods, or anywhere, are practicing citizen journalism, “they are the ones who now are in charge of uploading to social networks the protests or denunciations that are proliferating in the country.”
During the pandemic, Maduro’s regime ordered an acceleration of the harassment and persecution of journalists, both traditional and digital media, which is evidence that it strangles the right to inform and be informed in a truthful and uncensored manner, unleashing a systematic attack against the media.
She reiterated that to practice journalism in Venezuela, with ethics, mysticism and “adherence to the laws” under the dictatorship means “to become the regime’s target for harassment, persecution, robbery, physical aggression and imprisonment by the regime’s security forces that act with impunity under the indifferent gaze of overlapping government entities.”
273 violations of freedom of the press
Deputy Biagio Pilieri, denounced that since the beginning of the quarantine and until the end of May, 273 violations of press freedom were registered, of which 122 cases are directly against journalists and media workers, who became ‘strategic objectives’ of the regime.
He stated that the aberrant practice established by the regime against the media and their workers is to persecute, harass, intimidate, assault, and even execute arbitrary detentions, making the profession of journalism in Venezuela one of the most risky.
He assured that it is a state policy of the regime that seeks to impose communicational hegemony with the purpose of hiding new and misinformation, thus provoking censorship and self-censorship.
Pilieri, who chairs the Media Subcommittee, asked the National Assembly to maintain its permanent attention, vigilant and denouncing of all these crimes against the freedom of information and the press.
He also requested that the various reports containing detailed information on crimes against freedom of the press carried out by the Permanent Commission on the Media be submitted to international bodies and followed up as required, using data compiled by various NGOs working on the subject.
“The definitive cure for these evils of human rights violations, without a doubt, is to get rid of the regime, to expel them from power,” the parliamentarian said.
Manipulation and control of electronic media
For his part, Congressman Daniel Antequera said that more than 100 press, radio, and television outlets have been closed, along with the blocking of digital media and social networks, this happens especially when the Interim Government and the Venezuelan opposition express their disagreement with the regime.
At the same time, they generate a matrix of communication and opinion through the creation of false accounts in social networks combined with the bias of the media, which in the opinion of the parliamentarian end up being a pamphlet of the regime to originate lies.
Antequera said that this state policy of the regime to destroy the media as instruments of truth and flagrantly violates the right to freedom of expression in Venezuela.
He said that on the day of the journalist in Venezuela there is nothing to celebrate, as long as the usurper regime continues to violate the rights of citizens to be informed. He praised the heroic role of the journalists who work to make the truth visible that shows the drama that the Venezuelan feels of living in the worst social, economic and political crisis ever to occur in the country.
He thanked the media “that have not sold out or self-censored and that understand and comprehend this is the moment to tell, sometimes as painful as it may be, what is happening in the country. That is their share of responsibility for this new democracy that we are all going to conquer,” he said.