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Journalists from state-owned media outlets assaulted during opposition rally

(RSF/IFEX) - On 19 March 2009, a television crew working for Venezolana de Televisión (VTV), the leading state-owned channel, was assaulted by opposition activists in Maracaibo, the capital of the northwestern state of Zulia. The incident took place during a rally in support of the mayor of Maracaibo, Manuel Rosales, who was the leading opposition challenger to President Hugo Chávez in the most recent presidential election, in 2006. The demonstration was prompted by a warrant issued for Rosales's arrest on corruption charges, which the opposition regards as a political reprisal.

In addition, on 20 March, journalists working for VTV and another state-owned television channel, Vive TV, and for the state-owned Radio Nacional de Venezuela (RNV), were denied access to a hospital run by the opposition-led regional government in Miranda, also in the state of Zulia.

Reporters Without Borders joins the Association of Journalists of Zulia State in urging all parties to avoid targetting journalists because of the news media outlets they work for. The press freedom organisation fears for the safety of media workers as a result of the renewed political polarisation. Both the federal authorities and regional authorities of all political factions have a duty to prevent such incidents.

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