The same week, the Venezuelan dictatorship, led by Nicolás Maduro, advanced on the media and human rights NGOs. The attacks come shortly after the inauguration of the new, Chavist-majority National Assembly, which was elected in a disputed vote on December 6.
This time, the targets were the streaming channel VPItv, which is usually the only one to broadcast acts and interviews of the opposition, the independent sites Efecto Cocuyo, Tal Cual, El Pitazo and Caraota Digital, the regional newspaper Panorama. (Maracaibo) and the NGO Médecins Sans Frontières, Provea (Venezuelan program for education and action in the field of human rights) and Azul Positivo.
The VPI (Venezuelans for Information) had its signal taken out of the air by a sanction imposed by Conatel (National Telecommunications Commission), Tal Cual had his page suspended indefinitely and Efecto Cocuyo is accused of having received direct funding from the government of the Kingdom. United – what the site denies.
Médecins Sans Frontières is withdrawing from part of the country due to restrictions on their work, and the NGO Azul Positivo has arrested five members in Zulia state.
Amnesty International condemned, Thursday 14, the “recent campaigns of stigmatization and the operations carried out by the administration of Nicolás Maduro against the media in Venezuela”. He added that “to silence these means is to deprive society of information on the human rights violations that have been practiced.”
The United Nations also issued a statement, expressing “deep concern at the continued attacks on civil society, human rights organizations and journalists in Venezuela.” He added that the arrest of the five human rights activists was illegal.
“Independent journalism is the last frontier for the government to have full control of the media in Venezuela,” journalist Luz Mely Reyes, one of the founders and directors of Efecto Cocuyo, told Folha.
The site is under attack by various vehicles aligned with the government, such as Globovisión and the newspaper El Universal – before being independent, but a few years ago it was bought with public funds and passed on to entrepreneurs linked to Chavismo .
Since the start of the regime, the main television stations have been expropriated and traditional newspapers have been sold or stifled.
“We were stripped of the paper, access to what we needed to keep the newspaper printed. Now we are only digital, but our page can only be viewed outside of Venezuela. In Venezuela, it is blocked. We, then, disseminate our news and our findings on social networks, ”Miguel Enrique Otero, director of El Nacional, the country’s leading independent newspaper, told Folha.
Otero is abroad because in Venezuela he is the target of a libel lawsuit for corruption revelations about Diosdado Cabello, the number two of Chavismo, published by the newspaper.
In 2020, the National College of Journalists (CNP) recorded 944 violations of freedom of expression, ranging from threats to journalists to media shutdowns. From 2004 to 2019, 165 radio stations, 18 TV channels and 42 newspapers ceased their broadcasts.
“It’s a different dictatorship. Because it doesn’t close everything directly. What is a state grant is taken away. What is private is bought or stifled economically. It will last a long time. Because they are trying to pass on to the world the idea that they don’t censor everything, but in fact they are, which makes our job almost impossible, “Otero says.” It’s worse than a dictatorship.
However, since the new National Assembly took office, progress has become more evident. Cabello, who is vice president of PSUV (Chavisme party), said he wanted NGOs or other organizations that allow money for humanitarian aid to leave the country. According to him, this money finances the work of the opponents.
“These recent attacks aim to criminalize all international cooperation in Venezuela, even that provided for by international laws and treaties to which Venezuela is a signatory,” Reyes said.
At the Venezuelan branch of VPItv, headquartered in Miami, Conatel entered with police officers and confiscated equipment and documents. “The move by Conatel to take our chain off the air will cause us to stop sending our signal to the whole country. But we will continue to do our job by any means possible. We have been doing this continuously for the past five years and we will continue, ”he said. the chain, which employs 100 journalists and technicians, in a statement.