IFJ Condemns Venezuela over Unprecedented Media Clampdown

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called on the international community to denounce the action of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez who has cut deep into the fabric of press freedom in the country with his government's announcement of a widespread attack on independent media voices.

The IFJ says the Government's decision to revoke licences of a dozen of private radio stations with up to 200 others facing the same fate is an unprecedented attack on independent journalism.

"Free media in Venezuela are facing a complete wipe out," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "If these actions stand, they spell the end of alternative and dissident opinion. They will reinforce President Chavez's rule and disenfranchise citizens in the name of his so-called socialist revolution."

According to reports, the authorities in Venezuela have withdrawn licences of at least 13 radio stations in a bid to close up to 240 of them in the country. The decision followed the introduction of a new media law which punishes "media crimes" such as "harming the interest of the state, causing panic and disturbing peace" with jail sentences.

President Chavez has often criticised media which opposed his policies, blaming them for waging a "media war" orchestrated by "imperialist" United States of America against his regime. 

The IFJ itself was among media critics after owners became engaged in an attempt to overthrow Chavez some years ago, but the Federation now says this latest attack is a vindictive sign of the Government's attempt to deny the opposition information space amid signs of mounting public discontent over the country's economic woes.

"There can be no democracy in Venezuela without the free flow of information and views about the governance of the country," added White. "Media provides the forum for this and the unprecedented attack we are seeing will set the country back on its road to representative government."

For more information contact the IFJ at +32 2 235 2207

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 123 countries worldwide