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Journalist briefly detained after covering oil spill

(IPYS-Venezuela/IFEX) - On Thursday 19 January 2012, journalist Giselle Almarza, of the Globovisión private TV station, was briefly detained and questioned after having covered an oil spill in a rural area of La Pica parish, in the state of Monagas.

According to Almarza, she and cameraman Dali Gomez went to the area in eastern Venezuela, 600 kilometers east of Caracas, in response to a complaint by some local farmers who claimed to have lost a large part of their harvest due to a spill from neighboring oil wells. Venezuela's state-owned oil company, PDVSA, manages a crude oil project in the area.

The Globovisión team filmed some images and interviewed the people affected by the oil spill. As they were about to return to their home base in the neighboring state of Anzoátegui (three hours away) they were warned by local peasants that members of the National Guard (part of Venezuela's Armed Forces) were going to detain them and demand they hand over their video material, as they were not authorised to film in the area.

To avoid being seen and detained by the National Guard, the cameraman took the video material and, guided by a group of local farmers, walked on a dirt road that led to the main highway linking the states of Monagas and Anzoátegui. Meantime, Almarza left the area by car, taking with her some unused video tapes. The National Guard and PDVSA employees stopped her and demanded she hand over the videos. They held her for 40 minutes and questioned her about her coverage. The officials did not take any of her equipment. One hour later she met up again with the cameraman and they both headed back to Anzoátegui.

The correspondents did not file a complaint with the authorities, although the incident was reported by Globovisión the same day and noted on its web page.

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