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Venezuelan security force personnel censor Colombian journalists in border area

(FLIP/IFEX) - On 5 August 2009, security force personnel from the Guardia Venezolana prevented journalists from Colombian media outlets from covering a demonstration undertaken by merchants in the border area at the Simón Bolívar international bridge.

Several journalists from the border city of Cúcuta, in the department of Norte de Santander, Colombia, told FLIP that both Colombian and Venezuelan merchants began a demonstration on 4 August, protesting against trade restrictions that have been adopted as a result of recent diplomatic incidents between the two countries.

On 4 August, journalists from both countries were allowed to cover the demonstration without incident since there is an agreement in place allowing for citizens from Colombia and Venezuela to enter each country up to a certain point. During the continuation of the demonstration on 5 August, however, Guardia Venezolana personnel prevented Colombian journalists from accessing the area while they continued to allow Venezuelan journalists and demonstrators from both countries to enter.

Olga Lucía Cótamo, the news director for RCN Radio in Cúcuta, said that the restriction on Colombian journalists seems to have originated in an incident that took place the previous day when Colombian camera operators filmed Guardia Venezolana personnel assaulting a youth who was participating in the march.

FLIP is concerned over the restrictions placed on coverage of incidents occurring at the border. In the current atmosphere of tension between the two countries the work of the media is all the more important in order for citizens to know what is happening. FLIP calls on the Colombian government to address this issue with its counterpart in Venezuela.

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