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Director of regional newspaper in Venezuela fired due to political pressure

On July 18, 2014, Jesús González, the director of El Sol de Maturín, was fired after being at the helm of the relaunch and circulation of this regional newspaper of Monagas state for one and a half months.

González told IPYS-Venezuela that, since June 16 El Sol de Maturín had been back on the streets with its printed edition after 10 months as only a digital newspaper. The paper has a balanced editorial line, but leans more towards the official political party vision. During those 10 months, two consultant journalists from Caracas were brought by the new owners to enhance administrative and labor-related aspects of the work.

However on Monday July 14, a commission, which identified itself as new shareholders of the newspaper, arrived to reinforce the official party-leaning editorial line. “They arrived, and imposed a new editorial line where we could not speak poorly of the government, the entire newspaper had to have rose-tinted lenses stating that here (in Monagas) nothing was lacking, nor could we mention that things had gotten very expensive. We had to defend the female governor (Yelitza Santaella) and Pelusa (Pedro Silva). The journalistic style was that we could not speak badly or criticize the government”, González said about the changes.

In light of this, the team from Caracas that managed to put El Sol de Maturín once again in kiosks decided to resign and in the beginning, González stayed on the whole week waiting on the new guidelines for the new team but on Friday July 18 he was notified that he had been fired without any verbal or written reasons given.

The journalist explained that the second week after resuming its circulation, the printed media published a piece in which an official political party group that are followers of former mayor Numa Rojas announced that they would request a recall referendum against governor Santaella (PSUV) and for González this information seemed to generate friction in the government party, so he thinks this was also one of the reasons why they laid him off. “I believe that political pressures mounted although I was never really told anything about it”, he pointed out.

After 40 years circulating in Monagas, El Sol de Maturín encountered problems purchasing newsprint in August 2013 and announced that it would stop circulating for 15 days at the beginning of that month. Later, the paper announces that it would become a digital newspaper and reduced its staff to only two journalists and one photojournalist.

That is how it kept going until June 16 when once again it started selling its printed edition, albeit with less pages – now only 24 – with a new design and content, incorporating sections on culture, science and technology and replacing the events section with sports.

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