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Photographer Rafael Garanton wounded, other journalists threatened during protest

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 21 January 2009, Rafael Garanton, a photographer for the "El Carabobeño" newspaper, was assaulted by supporters of President Hugo Chávez who turned on a group of students, members of the national journalists' association and the general public, who were marching in protest against the lack of security in the city of Valencia, Carabobo state, central Venezuela.

Garanton was photographing the clashes when he was wounded in the left hand and right elbow. His assailants took his camera. The journalist was admitted to a medical center for treatment.

In a related incident, several journalists, photographers and camera operators were evacuated by the police from the vicinity of the justice department headquarters, where the demonstrators handed in a manifesto protesting against the insecurity. The media personnel were evacuated after supporters of Venezuela's United Socialist Party (Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela, PSUV) threatened to attack them. The journalists took refuge inside the justice department headquarters for an hour and were then evacuated in police cars in order to avoid any attacks on them.

During the protest march, the explosion of a pyrotechnic device affected the hearing of Charito Rojas, a Radio Cosmopolita 107.9 FM journalist and columnist for the "Notitarde" newspaper.

In addition to protesting against the general conditions of insecurity, the march also aimed to speak out against the death of journalist Orel Zambrano, who was murdered by hired killers on 16 January. The Municipality of Valencia signed an agreement to mourn and pay posthumous tribute to the journalist.

For further information on the Zambrano case, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/99968

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