Web of Repression to Close Newspapers

As media outlets in Venezuela are suffocated to the point of closure, a new report by NGO Transparencia Venezuela shows the mechanisms used by the hegemony to make it happen.

Photo El Impulso retrieved.

In 2018 alone, 30 media outlets have closed in Venezuela. 25 of them are newspapers.

With a new digital campaign aimed at decrying the dramatic number of fallen outlets in recent years (Caracas Chronicles has covered this troubling trend), there’s a new report from the Venezuelan chapter of NGO Transparency International, giving us a look on how the direct official pressure and our economic crisis have caused a huge drop in the amount of media voices available in the country.

Under the title of “Economic suffocation: the new form of power censorship,” Transparencia Venezuela tells us the story of eight different outlets with the very same fate: pushed into extinction by a communicational hegemony.

For example, there’s my hometown newspaper, El Impulso, forced to stop printing since February, going just digital ever since. Even though the lack of newsprint was the main cause of its ordeal, other factors, like reduction in advertising revenues, play a role. El Impulso, mind you, refuses to give in, with its staff reduced to a minimum.

You can see the same pattern in the remaining cases: from Versión Final in Zulia, to La Verdad in Monagas and Tal Cual in Caracas, founded by the late Teodoro Petkoff.

Interestingly enough, the hegemony itself has been a collateral victim of its own strategy: Five versions of its Ciudad newspaper have been out of newsprint (Maracay, Maturin, Portuguesa, Barinas and Orinoco), while two became weeklies (Barquisimeto and Valencia).

The report also shows, for example, the many obstacles press workers and its main union (SNTP) face just to renew its main board. The CNE is the only one, by legal mandate, who can organize elections of professional guilds and workers’ unions in the B.R. of V., so you can imagine how it all flows when such an elemental piece of organization everywhere is utterly centralized.

The Red Friday deepened the many problems that journalists endure: less resources to do their coverage, lack of transportation and wages that cannot survive hyperinflation.

And the hegemony is just fine with this, as economist Tamara Herrera told Transparencia: “In the case of print media, there wasn’t even the slightest interest of negotiating or prolong the life of those outlets. In this model of over-regulated economy, there’s no interest in promoting journalism nor free speech.”

This report also shares the resilience and determination of those who refuse to give up, who reject the chance to sell out, who keep on fighting in their own way: by reporting the news.

The report is only in Spanish, but it’s well worth a read and a share.