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Portuguesa state police shoot at and beat journalists to prevent coverage of violent suppression of demonstration in Ospino

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 19 February 2008, police in Portuguesa state, central Venezuela, shot at the journalists who were covering a demonstration by informal small businessmen in the city of Ospino. The police were in the process of violently quelling the demonstration, during which over 40 were wounded, including the mayor of Ospino. The press went to interview the wounded. An unidentified police major then ordered the police to fire upon the journalists. Journalist Iliana Arias, of the newspaper "Diario Cantaclaro", was chased and shot at, but was not harmed. Journalist Carlos Quintero and camera operator Neiber Guillén, of the Portuguesa Televisión station, were beaten by the police.

Arias told IPYS that after she heard and taped the police major's order to shoot at the journalists, she hid and fled in a vehicle in which several other people were leaving. When the police noticed that Arias, who was wearing a t-shirt with the newspaper's logo, was in the vehicle, they chased after it and fired upon the vehicle several times. They then burst into a house where the journalist had hidden in order to protect herself, but were unable to find her.

Quintero was thrown to the ground and beaten by a police officer who also pointed a gun at his face. Guillén had his camera taken away, but recovered it later at the police station.

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