Photo: ABC News, retrieved.
On the night of February 25th, U.S. Spanish-speaking TV network Univision informed that its main news anchor Jorge Ramos and his crew of six were held at Miraflores Palace when their interview with Nicolás Maduro was halted after 17 minutes. Then, they were detained for several hours before being allowed to return to their hotel in Caracas, but their equipment and phones were confiscated.
Ramos offered a first-hand account of what happened, including that he showed Maduro a video he personally took the day earlier of young men eating from a garbage truck. After that, Maduro interrupted the interview and Information Minister Jorge Rodríguez went to Ramos and told him that the interview wasn’t “authorized”. Rodríguez has called the entire incident a “cheap show” on his Twitter account.
Later, Ramos shared details about the incident with Univision’s fellow journalist Patricia Janiot and said that at one point, he and Univision VP Maria Martinez were taken to a room, which went suddenly dark and Miraflores security personnel forcefully removed their phones and backpacks. They were also obligated to give their personal passwords.
He and Univision VP Maria Martinez were taken to a room, which went suddenly dark and Miraflores security personnel forcefully removed their phones and backpacks.
“They don’t want the interview to become public,” Ramos told Janiot. “Our work was stolen.”
Ramos and his crew were expelled from Venezuela (in a flight to Miami) the morning after. SEBIN agents took over the hotel right after their arrival, and in the morning personnel from the U.S. and Mexico embassies drove Ramos and his crew to the Maiquetia airport in armored vehicles.
Both the U.S. and Mexican governments have shown their concern for Ramos’s wellbeing after the news broke out. Ramos was born in Mexico but has American citizenship. According to a statement from the Mexican Foreign Ministry (SRE), their embassy provided consular support.
As Maduro’s PR drive to “rehabilitate” his image continues by offering interviews to selected media outlets like the BBC or U.S. network ABC, he insists on his main talking point of late: accusing the Trump administration of creating a crisis to justify an intervention in Venezuela.
But as in the Salvados interview from weeks ago or even in that ABC interview with Tom Llamas (which was done before Ramos’s), Maduro had no willingness to elaborate beyond the same old arguments he has told over and over again about what’s happening here and then loses his composure easily when he’s confronted with the facts that knock those down.
When confronted by Llamas over reports by the UN and international human rights NGOs that make his administration responsible for thousands of deaths related to our humanitarian crisis, Maduro not only denied it in the strongest terms, but repeatedly accused Llamas of lying.
Even if the specific details make this incident more unusual, this latest aggression against a foreign correspondent isn’t an exception, but just part of a long pattern of harassment that those who try to cover Venezuela (with some minor exceptions) suffer by the communicational hegemony.
During the events of last weekend, we witnessed a chain of abuses that confirm the state’s repressive stance: TV channels taken down, websites blocked, journalists attacked.
The events of last month reinforce the trend of ever-growing censorship of these recent years.
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