The Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Prensa [National Syndicate of Press Workers] (SNTP) held a press conference today in which it provided an overview of the field of journalism in Venezuela. During the press conference, the SNTP painted a picture of an embattled field increasingly under siege by Maduro’s authoritarian regime.
Marcos Ruiz, the secretary general of the SNTP, told reporters that 1,328 journalists have left Venezuela since 2012, and explained that the exodus is being caused by “difficult and risky conditions” for press workers that are the result of “permanent persecution” by the Maduro regime.
Putting the figure in perspective, Ruiz said that the number of journalists who have left Venezuela in the past six years is equivalent to 20 graduating classes from a university undergraduate program in social communication.
Ruiz also said that so far in 2018, 15 newspapers have been forced to shut down or severely cut down on their circulation due to a combination of regime harassment and lack of print paper. He explained that out of that number, eight newspapers were forced out of business altogether, four were forced to cut their circulation to five days a week, two to once a week, and one–El Nacional–is facing an existential crisis after losing a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Constituent Assembly president Diosdado Cabello.
For Ruiz, the flight of journalists and death of newspapers are connected to a common cause, which is the Maduro regime’s open hostility to a free press. He also pointed out that the devastating effects felt by Venezuelan media at the hands of the regime have the consequence of intimidating what media does remain into silence. He said:
In all of these cases, what [the regime] is trying to do is cause self-censorship and inhibit [journalism], to silence.
During the press conference, Ruiz also stressed that traditional print media is not the only one that is under attack by the Maduro regime, since web outlets like El Nacional Web, La Patilla and El Pitazo suffer often attacks on their website that range from sporadic attacks to nation-wide blocks.
Pence Talks Tough on Venezuela in Brazil
United States vice president Mike Pence was in Brazil today where he spoke on Latin American issues, among them the ongoing crisis in Venezuela.
Pence said that the time had come to “pressure” the Maduro regime, and for the international community to “act firmly” to “restore democracy” in Venezuela. Speaking alongside Brazilian president Michel Temer, Pence said:
The United States ask Brazil to adopt firm attitudes against the regime of Nicolas Maduro, which has destroyed democracy and build a brutal dictatorship that has turned Venezuela into a poor country.
Pence also said:
Thanks to Maduro, the Venezuelan people go hungry, suffer, and flee.
The vice president also said that the White House would be making more contributions to help Venezuelan migrants in Brazil, and that it would “continue to work with Brazil and her allies for democracy in Venezuela”.
SCOTUS Upholds Trump Travel Ban, Affecting Regime Officials
The Supreme Court of the United States issued a controversial ruling today upholding president Trump’s travel ban against seven countries. Five of the countries named in the travel ban are Muslim-majority nations, while one is North Korea and the other is Venezuela.
While Trump’s ban prohibits all travel from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, the restriction against travel from Venezuela is not all-encompassing. Instead, the ban on Venezuelan travelers affects “mainly government officials” responsible for the crisis in the country, according to CNN.
According to the travel ban, any Venezuelan official or their immediate family who works in the following state institutions will no longer be able to enter the United States in a business, tourist, or business/tourist visa:
- Ministry of the Popular Power for Interior, Justice and Peace
- Administrative Service of Identification, Migration and Immigration
- Scientific, Penal and Criminal Investigation Service Corps (CICPC)
- Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN)
- Ministry of the Popular Power for Foreign Relations
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