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Newspaper receives threats from groups linked to ruling party

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 22 April 2010, Estela Tami, editor-in-chief of the newspaper "La Prensa", requested police protection for the paper's staff after she received information about possible attacks by groups related to the ruling party, called "communication guerrillas". This occurred in the State of Barinas, western Venezuela.

Tami pointed out that a source inside the "guerrillas" advised her about some of its members' interest in "teaching the paper a lesson". Journalists from another newspaper, "De Frente", who received the same information, also alerted Tami.

On 21 April, the Ministry of Communication and Information's Regional Information Office called for a meeting at Plaza Bolívar. There, Elena Angulo, house representative and vice-president of the Regional Legislative Council, called "La Prensa" "swine" and "sensationalist", accusing the newspaper of "distorting information" and "lying". This was prompted by a piece about the "communication guerrillas" published on 18 April. She also referred in an insulting manner to another news item about the possibility that former Secretary of State, Argenis Chávez, may not run for office as a representative in the National Assembly. Adán Chávez, governor of Barinas, demanded that Tami should provide details about the source that provided this information.

The "communication guerrillas" answer to President Hugo Chávez and were set up to counteract the information of media outlets whose editorial lines oppose the government's administration.

IPYS condemns these actions as they constitute a form of pressure that impacts on journalistic freedom.

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