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Ahead of Venezuelan elections opposition ad censored

(IPYS-Venezuela/IFEX) - On August 29, 2012 the Electoral Council of Venezuela (CNE in Spanish) announced the suspension of a TV spot produced by Voluntad Popular, an opposition-aligned political party. Tibisay Lucena, president of the CNE, said that the decision is the beginning of an administrative procedure, as the video conveys a message of violence and allegedly breaches the Law on Electoral Processes.

Freddy Guevera, representative of Voluntad Popular, said that the TV spot called "Security is the way" was aired for first time by Globovisión, on August 28, 2012 in supervised hours, in compliance with the Law on Radio and TV passed in 2004. Supervised hours refers to programs whose content may be watched by children under the supervision of their parents. He also said that the advertisement illustrates the situation of violence affecting the lives of all Venezuelans.

The president of the CNE urged the media to comply with a precautionary measure that implies that the program may not be aired again. The measure has immediate effect.

Although Tibisay Lucena said that the measure is not censorship, IPYS-Venezuela has found that the decision does not comply with Articles 57 and 58 of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, whereby citizens are entitled to freedom of speech, meaning that censorship, of any kind, is prohibited. In addition, several international norms as the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Speech - promoted by the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the OAS - sets forth that censorship violates the exercise of any such guarantee. This is the second case of censorship involving the Electoral Branch between July and August 2012 that is related to the electoral campaign for the presidential election to be held in October. The first occurred on July 30 when the Electoral Branch ordered that three spots from a series called "Electoral Advantage" produced by the NGO Ciudadania Activa, as well as a paid ad issued by Fundacion Justicia y Democracia published in Ultimas Noticias newspaper.

You can watch "Security is the way" online

In another election-related incident, on Sunday September 9, Lorena Benitez, a journalist from YVKE Mundial, a radio station owned by the National System of Public Media, which is state-run, reported having being attacked by followers of Henrique Capriles.

Capriles is running for President of Venezuela. This allegedly happened during a walk by the La Pastora neighborhood in west Caracas, organized by Comando Venezuela a political party promoting Capriles for the Presidential election.

IPYS-Venezuela tried to get ahold of Benitez, but she could not be contacted. Benitez told Radio Nacional de Venezuela that she was taking pictures of the event with her mobile phone. Violence started when, allegedly, people who were in the rally started to argue with members of colectivos (pro-Chavez social groups) as they surrounded the event and were attempting to prevent it, the Comando Venezuela said.

Benitez said "a group of women wearing Capriles t-shirts threw a liquid that I believe was vinegar. I saw this and walked away but I managed to take a picture. Suddenly a woman approached me and asked me to give her my phone, I told her that I would not give it to her as as I was using it for work, and then the woman started to yell at me. She was determined to get my phone, so I put it in my back pocket and leaned on a car, then three women came to me and started to punch me".

This is the second report of physical attacks against journalists from the National System of Public Media in September.

IPYS-Venezuela urges authorities to guarantee the necessary conditions for journalists to conduct their work without hindrance. You can listen to Benitez's account of the incident online.

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November in the Americas: Humour in the face of harassment, condemnation in the face of impunity, and mobilisations…

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