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Attack on "Panorama" newspaper attributed to Chávez opponents by congressmen and Maracaibo mayor

(IAPA/IFEX) - The following is a 26 September 2007 IAPA press release:

IAPA assails attack on Venezuelan newspaper Panorama, calls for full investigation

MIAMI, Florida (September 26, 2007) - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today denounced an attack on the plant of the Venezuelan daily newspaper Panorama and called on the authorities to carry out a full investigation to bring those responsible for the incident to justice.

A group of unidentified assailants attacked the paper's building in Maracaibo, in the western state of Zulia, on September 17, hurling rocks, bottles and other missiles that damaged the main entrance and interrupted the work shift, the newspaper reported. It said that journalists and other staff were prevented from working for more than half an hour.

"We ask the relevant authorities to conduct an inquiry leading to the identification of those responsible for the attack and to ensure the safety of the workers and the news company," declared Gonzalo Marroquín, chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information and editor of the Guatemala City, Guatemala, newspaper Prensa Libre. "We reject violence and reprisals being taken against a news outlet because of the information that it publishes."

The newspaper attributed the incident to reports it printed on the August 8 death of an official in the Military Intelligence Agency, Claudio Macías, in which José Sánchez, the Zulia state government security chief, has been implicated, and other reports it had published on the absence of security and the fact that guilty persons were going unpunished in the state.

The attack on Panorama occurred after the same assailants were said to have inflicted damage on the Court of Justice, to which Sánchez had been taken after being charged in the Macías murder.

The National Assembly issued a condemnation of the violent incident and voted to appoint a committee to look into it.

Meanwhile, national congressmen and the mayor of Maracaibo, Giancarlo Di Martino, claimed those responsible for the attacks were supporters of the Primero Justicia and Un Nuevo Tiempo political parties. The leader of the second is Zulia Governor Manuel Rosales, an opponent of Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez and an unsuccessful candidate for the presidency in the December 2006 elections.

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