Press association rejects Venezuelan government accusations
MIAMI, Florida - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) on Friday responded to Venezuela’s foreign minister who accused the press of inciting hatred and distortion in covering the Venezuela-Colombia border conflict, declaring that “his government, a permanent aggressor of freedom of expression, has no legal or moral authority to set standards of conduct for the press.”
IAPA president Gustavo Mohme said that the accusation leveled at the Colombian press by the Venezuelan government “laid bare once more a regime that always cites responsibilities and makes scapegoats of media and journalists or external elements for the problems that its own actions generate.”
Venezuelan foreign minister Delcy Rodríguez held the media of Colombia responsible for exaggerating the human rights crisis that for a week now has been occurring on the border.
“We have debunked the news media’s lies. In the face of the media fallacy the facts prevail,” she said on Wednesday following a meeting with her Colombian counterpart, María Ángela Holguín.
Concerning the minister’s argument that the media incite to hatred and that is why it is necessary to control them, Mohme, editor of the Lima, Peru, newspaper La República, declared, “The foreign minister’s statements demonstrate the conduct of censorship and lack of respect that the Venezuela government has for the media, journalists and press freedom.”
He added, “If someone has to be punished for inciting hatred it is the Venezuelan regime. The journalists are only showing images, accounts and videos of those who have been the true victims of this conflict after being expelled from Venezuela.”
In turn, Claudio Paolillo, chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, said, “It is inconceivable that a regime that already for too many years is a declared enemy of freedom of expression and of the press presents itself before public opinion and imprudently intends to impart standards of conduct for the news media and journalists of another country.”
“It gives the impression that that Venezuelan government believes that it can harass and annoy media and journalists not only within its territory – something that it already does with utmost enthusiasm – but also outside of it. Its leaders have flown off the handle and consider that they are in a condition to do what they want in the rest of the region,” declared Paolillo, editor of the Montevideo, Uruguay, weekly Búsqueda.
Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro late last week declared a state of emergency for 60 days following an attack by unidentified persons in the border area that left three members of the Venezuelan military and one civilian injured. Maduro attributed the action to Colombian paramilitaries and the state of crime in the border area, thus justifying the deportation of more than 1,000 Colombians.