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Venezuelan newspapers at risk of closure: press group

April 16, 2015

Several Venezuelan newspapers are at risk of imminent closure, the Inter-American Press Association warned Thursday, accusing leftist President Nicolas Maduro of impeding access to newsprint and discriminating against publications critical of his government.

IAPA, which represents editors and publishers from around the Americas, noted recent announcements that El Correo del Caroni, El Impulso, El Carabobeno, El Nacional and El Regional del Zulia “will stop publishing in the coming weeks.”

“Once more we hold President Maduro responsible for restricting the freedom of the press and the public’s right to information, by means of a special mechanism of persecution and discrimination,” IAPA’s president Gustavo Mohme said in a statement.

IAPA, which is based in Miami, charged that the Maduro government targets independent newspapers by denying them hard currency to buy newsprint or withholding government advertising.

“We are in a very chaotic situation,” said Claudio Paolillo, the head of IAPA’s free press committee. “The media are closing and with them the hopes they keep alive as democratic bastions within the country.”

At last week’s Summit of the Americas, IAPA criticized Latin American countries for remaining silent about the situation in Venezuela.

The Maduro government in the past has dismissed IAPA’s warnings about the decline of freedom of expression in Venezuela, calling the press group “an instrument of right-wing newspapers.”

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.