The Venezuelan government has refused to allow the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to conduct an observation visit. Refusal by Venezuela since 2002 puts the country in an “exceptional” situation in the region, the regional body noted, AFP reports.
During the 153rd session of hearings of the IACHR, Venezuelan non-governmental organizations (NGO) Committee of the Relatives of the Victims of February-March 1989 (Cofavic) and the Venezuelan Program of Education-Action in Human Rights (Provea) reported human right violations in Venezuela and limited access to official information. Saltrón stressed that NGOs are funded by the US government. Cofavic recorded 892 cases of alleged human rights abuses, out of which 823 were against the right to life; 154 more cases than the 669 cases recorded in the same period of 2013.
“The National Institute of Statistics (INE) indicated that poverty grew by 6%. Inflation leaped 56% and food inflation stood at 100%, and we all know that inflation hits mainly the most impoverish sectors,” Provea representative Marino Alvarado noted.
Freedom of expression and freedom of the press in Venezuela have been increasingly under attack by a regime that seeks to control all means of communication, leaving limited room for independent journalism. While this trend is not new, over the past year the government has taken new steps to silence independent voices. Government front men have purchased several popular media outlets, most notably the media group Cadena Capriles, the TV station Globovisión, and Venezuela’s oldest daily El Universal. The government has also limited independent newspapers’ access to paper, leading 37 newspapers to reduce or suspend their print editions. Finally, the government has delayed the renewal of radio broadcasting licenses, leaving radio stations in a legal limbo and subject to arbitrary shutdowns.
For the past 12 years, the Instituto de Prensa y Sociedad-Venezuela (IPYS-Venezuela), a Caracas-based organization, has supported independent and quality journalism through the promotion of freedom of expression, investigative journalism, and access to public information. In October 2014, IPYS released its latest report on censorship and self-censorship in Venezuela. This study gathers perceptions of 225 journalists, documenting the pervasiveness and types of censorship among public, private, independent, and community-based journalists. Building on the main findings of IPYS’ latest report, this event will analyze the current state of freedom of the press in Venezuela, looking in particular into issues of censorship and self-censorship affecting the media landscape today.
The event will provide an opportunity to raise critical questions such as: What are the main drivers and characteristics of censorship and self-censorship in Venezuela today? Are journalists faced with new, greater threats? What tools has the Venezuelan government used to occupy or limit the media space? Are there new ways to promote freedom of expression in a highly digitalized society and to what extent does censorship impact the Internet? What can we expect in the months ahead in terms of freedom of expression?
The National Endowment for Democracy and
The Latin America and Hemispheric Studies Program at The George Washington University
cordially invite you to a panel discussion:
Condemned to Silence?
The State of Freedom of Expression in Venezuela
Marianela Balbi, Executive Director of Instituto de Prensa y Sociedad -Venezuela and
Sergio Dabhar, Venezuelan investigative journalist
Moderated by Silvio Waisbord
Professor in the School of Media and Public Affairs
at The George Washington University
WHEN: Thursday October 30, 2014 @ 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm WHERE: George Washington University
Linder Family Commons, Room #602 at the Elliot School of International Affairs
1957 E St, NW, Washington DC, 20052
Please RSVP here
Marianela Balbi is a journalist with more than 30 years of experience. Since 2012, she has served as Executive Director for Instituto Sociedad y Prensa-Venezuela, the most authoritative group on freedom of expression issues in Venezuela. At IPYS-Venezuela, she leads the team in charge of monitoring violations to freedom of expression and access to information, coordinates the Program of Advanced Media Studies jointly with the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello. Previously, she taught investigative journalism at the Universidad Metropolitana de Caracas. An investigative journalist herself, she published the book El Rapto de la Odalisca (Aguilar, 2009). She also worked at the national newspaper El Nacional from 2002 to 2005. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in on communications from the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello, and a Masters on Latin American Literature from Université Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3 in Paris, France.
Sergio Dabhar is an independent journalist and book editor. Over the past few years, he has edited and published several books and specialized journals investigating issues of corruption, freedom of expression, and governance in Venezuela. He has completed an investigation on the government’s strategy for media control, from the Chavez’s Aló Presidente programs to the recent media takeovers under the Maduro Administration. From 2000 to 2006, he served as director of the national newspaper El Nacional. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism at the Universidad Central de Venezuela and a Masters in Spanish literature at the University of Maryland.
Silvio Waisbord, Ph.D., is a Professor and former Director of Graduate Programs for the School of Media and Public Affairs at the George Washington University. Prior to joining GWU, he was Associate Professor at Rutgers University and a fellow at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies at Notre Dame University. He is the Editor in Chief of the International Journal of Press/Politics and has published extensively in both English and Spanish, including his most recent book Reinventing Professionalism: Journalism and News in a Global Perspective. He obtained both his undergraduate and graduate degrees in sociology from the Universidad de Buenos Aires and the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), respectively. He completed his doctorate in sociology at UCSD as well.