JOINT STATEMENT June 21st, 2021
The Association of Venezuelan Journalists Abroad (APEVEX), based in the U.S., and the undersigned organizations call on the U.S. Treasury Department and Congress to apply targeted sanctions against officials of the Nicolás Maduro regime responsible for violating the right to information and freedom of the press in Venezuela.
The regime is systematically dismantling freedom of the press in Venezuela as part of its efforts to reinforce its communicational hegemony, which includes harassment, aggression, theft and imprisonment of journalists and closure of media outlets. In addition, the media are victims of closures or fiscal, economic, and administrative sanctions, or arbitrary raids where their equipment and work material are confiscated.
And the most recent attack on freedom of the press was the seizure of the headquarters of the newspaper El Nacional on May 14, 2021.
The order is part of the lawsuit for alleged moral damage filed by Diosdado Cabello, first vice-president of the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), against the newspaper in 2015 after El Nacional disclosed information that was first published by the Spanish newspaper ABC and other international media indicating that he was investigated for alleged links to drug trafficking.
The measure is in addition to others issued by judges affiliated to the Chavista regime against newspapers, radio stations, television channels and digital news portals, as part of the fierce harassment of the media to impose censorship using the Judiciary for that purpose.
As a result of this situation, a total of 355 cases of aggressions against journalists and media outlets were recorded by the National Association of Journalists (CNP), Capital District Chapter during 2020, and among them, 61 were arbitrary detentions and the blocking of the Internet sites of 15 digital media outlets.
The regime also seeks to control and criminalize NGOs through mechanisms such as Administrative Ruling 001-2021 for the Unified Registry of Obligated Parties before the National Office against Organized Crime and Financing of Terrorism, which is unconstitutional and affects the protection of human rights and freedom of expression.
What happens in Venezuela affects the region and this authoritarian model expands to other countries which, together with the increase in organized crime and the advent of the pandemic, has resulted in cases of violation of freedom of information and expression, thus affecting independent journalistic work in Mexico, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Cuba, among other nations.
The most recent Freedom House report rates Venezuela as a country that is not free, with a score of 14/100, highlighting that the authorities of that country have closed virtually all channels for political dissent, restricting civil liberties and persecuting opponents with no respect for due process.
-. Alianza de Comunicadores Venezolanos en Antioquia
-. Asociación de Comunicadores Nicaragüenses-USA
-. Asociación de Periodistas Venezolanos en Ecuador
-. Asociación de Periodistas Venezolanos en Perú
-. Colegio Nacional de Periodistas de Venezuela
-. Colegio Hispanoamericano de Periodistas
-. Reyes Ayuda
-. Venezuela Awareness Foundation