Relying on the newsprint of neighbors (2nd Update)

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BkYBnKkIAAAfgKS.jpg largeAs more visible forms of pressure against the media are gaining in prominence, the newsprint shortage faced by most newspapers in Venezuela (which I coined Newsprint-geddon) is still on the march.

On Sunday, El Universal announced that it would reduce its printed edition from Mondays to Saturdays, starting April 15th. Weeks ago, Barquisimeto’s El Impulso said that it has enough newsprint until April 12th and Coro’s La Mañana could stop publishing by end of April.

Another national newspaper, El Nacional, could deplete its reserves by early May, and it has stopped printing two related publications: free morning newspaper Primera Hora, and women’s magazine Eme.

In the middle of this crisis, a gesture of solidarity came last week from our Colombian neighbors. The National Newspapers’ Association (Andiarios) decided to lend 52 tons of newsprint to three Venezuelan papers: El Impulso, El Nacional and El Nuevo Pais, so they can continue publishing a little big longer. Two trucks, carrying banners saying “We are all Venezuela” (Todos somos Venezuela), left Cartagena on April 1st to deliver the newsprint.

However, their journey has been filled with obstacles. The first truck was first denied its entrance into the country (and asked to return to Colombia) by National Guard soldiers in the border checkpoint of Paraguachón (Zulia). After 15 hours, the truck was allowed to enter Venezuela. In comparison, the second truck waited only 40 minutes.

Yet, the newsprint is still waiting to finish all customs-related paperwork, and at the time this post is online, it’s still waiting for final approval. At the same time, the GNB seized the camera of Julián Espinoza (press photographer of Colombian paper El Tiempo) and erased its content for allegedly committing “a felony”. No more details were given.

Another journalist who’s covering the journey, Nelson Mata (from Medellin’s El Colombiano) wrote about his experience at Paraguachón. It was pretty obvious that the trip would face trouble when a GNB soldier allegedly told them at first: “So, are you the ones delivering the paper that the Colombian government sent to the opposition?”.

But in part, that was part of Anidiarios’ overall plan. In the words of the current head of Venezuelan Journalists’ Association (CNP) Tinedo Guía: “…if that cargo suffers any restrictions, it will be evidence of the censorship against critical press…”.

This gesture could be just the first of many. During its recent mid-year assembly in Barbados, the Inter-American Press Society (SIP) analyed the Venezuelan case and asked its members to donate newsprint.

UPDATE # 1: Six days have now passed since the 52 tons of newsprint donated by Andiarios is waiting for approval from customs (SENIAT). The Colombian Foreign Minister María Ángela Holguín spoke about the issue with her Venezuelan counterpart Elias Jaua, who told her that the case was “being processed”. The Colombian embassy in Caracas has sent an envoy to review the situation.

UPDATE # 2: All paperwork is done. The newsprint could be on its way to Barquisimeto and Caracas tomorrow.

1 COMMENT

  1. More than likely their print circulation is dropping due to new technologies supplanting old fashioned printed papers. This is happening all over the world. Blaming it on some sort of newsprint shortage is a clever way of making political hay out of something they were doing anyways. Do note, for all the alarmist rhetoric they never do actually stop printing outright.
    Yet another fake crisis.

    • So: what’s the deal for the military caste obstructing the passage of printing paper?

      Many newspapers have already reduced their editions in drastic ways…you don’t need to be very clever to understand that the economic impact of stopping all together is more damaging than trying to reduce it for a while. But then Chavistas have a problem with management, we know. Chávez wasn’t even able to manage a military canteen with all provisions coming from the State.

      • Sure, they announce they don’t have enough newsprint because “more than likely their print circulation is dropping.”

        And they are willing to BUY the newsprint but the government won’t approve the foreign exchange necessary.

        From this, Tigre concludes that it’s a phony crisis.

        What other half-witted excuses can Maduro’s drones come up with?

    • You are an idiot! Please find something productive to do with your time instead of wasting it writing BS that contributes nothing to this blog or any other.

  2. Maybe if it was a truckload of cocaine it could have gotten through the border quicker, that seems to be the way the government works. Or maybe that is just old fashiioned also??????

  3. Given newspapers’ advertising revenue is tied to circulation how are newspapers paying the bills? Everyone on my street gets the Toronto Star dropped on their driveway every morning for free just so the Star can boost circulation and thus advertising rates. I’ve complained, begged, threatened them to make it stop because I read online and hate dealing with recycling them. But they keep on coming.

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