MIAMI, USA (IAPA) -- The Inter American Press Association (IAPA), in referring to meetings between the government and the opposition in Venezuela, has urged the authorities and political leaders to make greater efforts for transparency and respect for the people’s right to information, aspects that “can only be achieved if there is freedom of the press.”
At its recent meeting in Barbados, the IAPA welcomed “international initiatives for the interjection of good offices” in a clear reference to the mediation of the Vatican and the foreign ministries of Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador in the Venezuelan political conflict, although it called for greater guarantees for press freedom.
Claudio Paolillo, chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, declared, “There can be no dialogue without the press.”
He added, “The Venezuelan government for some time now has been institutionalizing censorship, so we hope it will be the mediators who make it clear that neither political processes nor democracies can be built when news media are suppressed.”
Paolillo, editor of the Montevideo, Uruguay, weekly Búsqueda, stressed that the Venezuelan government is continuing “to bet on newspapers shutting down, through its subtle action of denying them foreign currency that would enable them to import newsprint and other supplies that are not produced in the country.”
“Given this government intent,” he added, “what is essential is the solidarity of the newspapers of the region, not over a corporate matter but in full support of press freedom.”
He insisted on the IAPA request in Barbados to its members that they consider lending newsprint to their Venezuelan colleagues, an initiative that has already been taken up by Colombia newspapers through their association Andiarios and some members of the Grupo Diarios de América group.
More than 20 Venezuelan newspapers have ceased publishing for lack of newsprint and the leading ones among them, El Nacional, El Universal and El Impulso, found themselves obliged to reduce the size of their editions given the reduction in their inventory of newsprint, it being expected that they will have to shut down before long. In nearly all cases newspapers have just enough newsprint to be able to continue publishing for a few weeks.