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Newspaper interruption due to newsprint importer's operating circumstances, not currency controls, say officials

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 15 December 2007, "Diario del Caroní" newspaper returned to regular circulation after three days' of not publishing due to a lack of newsprint. During those three days, the newspaper appeared only on the Internet.

Two trucks loaded with newsprint dispatched to the newspaper by the paper importing company from Caracas were received on 14 December. The national body that regulates the release of foreign currency, the Comisión de Administración de Divisas (CADIVI), had met with representatives of the newsprint importer to facilitate its provision of these supplies.

In a 15 December editorial, the newspaper's manager, David Natera Febres, urged the government not to withhold the currency needed by media to purchase necessary inputs. The newspaper's journalists prepared a special supplement in which they highlighted how other provincial newspapers often found themselves short of the needed currency to purchase newsprint, ink and other inputs.

On 13 December, the minister of communication and information and the minister of finance issued a statement in which they accused Natera Febres of making false accusations against the government in saying that CADIVI was withholding currency from the newspaper for newsprint purchases.

According to the statement, in 2007 CADIVI had provided more than US$5,000,000 to DIPALCA, the company that supplies "Correo del Caroní" with newsprint, for the purchase of supplies.

The statement indicated that DIPALCA, in fact, had supplies awaiting distribution in customs, and asserted that DIPALCA had inventory problems due to operational circumstances, including the high demand for newsprint coupled with the reduced supply internationally, and its reluctance to make greater economic commitments.

In an 11 December editorial, "Correo del Caroní" announced it would suspend publication, allegedly because of difficulties in obtaining the needed currency from CADIVI.

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