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Regional newspaper journalists threatened and assaulted

(IPYS-Venezuela/IFEX) - Between 9 and 11 June 2011, journalists from the "Correo del Caroní" newspaper were the victims of attacks, insults and threats as they covered several violent incidents that took place at the state-owned Ferrominera del Orinoco company's facilities in Puerto Ordaz, Bolívar state, southern Venezuela.

On 9 June, photographer William Urdaneta was kicked and pushed by unionised workers at the company when he was attempting to report on an internal election process that ended with one worker dead and two wounded.

Urdaneta was with reporter Clavel Rangel when the union members assaulted him in an unsuccessful attempt to snatch his camera.

On the same day, insults were hurled at Ramses Siverio, a journalist for "Correo del Caroní", during a press conference at the Ferrominera del Orinoco offices after he asked about the incident that led to the worker's death.

Meanwhile, the union members used the media and social networks to accuse Rangel of being an accomplice in the worker's death and called for her to be imprisoned. The journalist told IPYS that the accusation against her is false.

In another incident, on 11 June, reporter Maisduslin Younis and photographer Carlos León were attacked at the local courthouse by Ferrominera del Orinoco workers who were trying to stop them from covering the appearance of their leader, Héctor Maican, who has been linked to the violent actions.

The union members carried placards accusing the journalists of being terrorists and the newspaper of being an accomplice to murder. León wanted to take photographs of the protest but he was attacked by the demonstrators, who threw him to the ground, then kicked him and beat him. Younis requested help from the police to no avail.

A woman who was shouting expletives pushed Younis and a man threatened to "burn the journalists alive" if Maican was imprisoned. León, who was bruised on several parts of his body, was taken to a hospital for treatment.

IPYS condemns this series of harassment and attacks, which have limited the ability of the journalists to carry out their work.

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