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Journalists report they were locked up in press room during Hugo Chávez's visit

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 17 July 2009, journalists who work for a number of media outlets and news agencies, and who were covering Hugo Chávez's visit to the Presidential Palace in La Paz, reported that they were locked up in the Press Room while Venezuela's president addressed the press by the Palace's main door. Only journalists from the state-owned Canal 7 and Venezuelan network Telesur were able to attend.

Iván Canelas, presidential spokesperson, responded to the journalists' accusation by saying there had been a misunderstanding among the security guards. He explained that according to protocol, when a foreign president visits the Palace all its doors must be closed. He pointed out that the officials were only following that rule.

The affected journalists described the event as an infringement of freedom of expression despite Canelas's explanation and stated that this kind of event is a common occurrence when covering events at the Presidential Palace.

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