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Military personnel briefly detain Globovisión journalist Carmen Elisa Pecorelli and cameraman Carlos Luis Caravallo; vice-minister prevents journalist Mariana Gómez from videotaping protest

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 11 March 2009, Globovisión television station journalist Carmen Elisa Pecorelli and cameraman Carlos Luis Caravallo were detained by a dozen members of the armed forces when they were filming outside the Los Tamarindos country estate, in the state of Aragua, central Venezuela. The Los Tamarindos estate was seized by officials from the National Land Institute (Instituto Nacional de Tierras, INTI) and the National Agricultural Research Institute (Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Agrícolas, INIA) after administrative proceedings concluded that the land, which has been used and managed by the private sector, belongs to the state.

Members of Venezuela's air force detained Pecorelli and Caravallo for an hour to prevent them from videotaping the area. The military personnel said that filming was prohibited, despite the fact that media outlets had previously been allowed to videotape the land unhindered.

The military personnel demanded that the journalists hand over their footage in exchange for their release. The reporters refused and denounced the event via the telephone, but finally agreed to comply with the demand.

Globovisión is in opposition to the government and the work of its employees is often obstructed.

In a separate incident, also on 11 March, Globovisión journalist Mariana Gómez was harassed by the vice-minister of agricultural economics, Richard Canán, when she and other journalists were covering a protest carried out by students against government measures to temporarily occupy and expropriate a number of rice processing companies. The incident took place outside of the agriculture and lands ministry (Ministerio Popular de Agricultura y Tierras) building, in Caracas.

The journalist told IPYS that, shielded by the commotion of the protest, the vice-minister held her wrist tightly so that she could not videotape the demonstration. At the same time, a group of unidentified officials pushed other reporters away from the area.

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