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Reporter injured by rubber bullets while covering anti-Maduro protests

The Spanish version of this statement was originally published on ipysvenezuela.org on 26 October 2016.

On October 26, 2016, Emmanuel Rivas, reporter for the website El Pitazo TV, received three rubber bullet injuries to his body when he was taking photos in the city of Mérida at the peaceful protest over of the suspension of the recall referendum against president Nicolás Maduro.

Emmanuel Rivas, reporter for El Pitazo, told IPYS Venezuela that he started covering the news in the early morning of Wednesday at the school of economic sciences of the Universidad de Los Andes, where the mobilization was heading to. Minutes later, police officers of Mérida state began throwing tear gas canisters in downtown Mérida, specifically in Avenue 19, for the purposes of dispersing the manifestation.

The mobilization continued advancing towards Avenue 5 in the city of Mérida, when Rivas visualized a vehicle in flames and several persons returning, including a young woman with a head injury. The reporter tried to take a photograph of the girl but that was the moment when he received the first rubber pellet impact to his face; the second, on his back, and a third one to his knee. The reporter said that the impacts came from state police officers.

Rivas received aid from several persons and colleagues, who took him to the emergency services at the Universidad de Los Andes where, at 2:10 pm, he was still waiting to be attended to. The reporter denounced that close to 20 injured persons were there.

This event represents a physical assault against a reporter by state security officers.

From January 1st to October 26th, 2016, IPYS Venezuela has tallied at least 46 physical assaults against journalists while doing their job. Among the most recent cases stands out the stone thrown at Nayrobis Rodríguez, the journalist of El Pitazo TV and correspondent for IPYS Venezuela that same day in the city of Cumaná, Sucre state.

IPYS Venezuela shall follow up on this case.

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