Photo: Sopitas, retrieved.

After Univisión’s news anchor Jorge Ramos and his staff were expelled from Venezuela, following hours of detention at Miraflores Palace (including a confiscation of their equipment) back in February, it was expected that the interview that provoked the incident would remain forever unseen, and the only details about what happened back then would be the accounts from those involved.

How wrong we were. Last week, Univisión surprisingly announced that they recovered the entire footage from that day, airing a special program in which they didn’t just show the full interview, they also offered details about what Ramos and his team went through in Caracas.

First off, how did Univisión get the interview back?

The head of the channel’s news division, Colombian journalist Daniel Coronell, said that he was contacted a couple of weeks ago by a Venezuelan source, who told him about the existence of the material. The data passed through four different countries before reaching the main offices of Univisión in Miami.

“I really don’t know the origin of this. I’m dealing with confidential sources in a chain of brokers, but I’m uncertain about the identity of the people giving this to us.”

Coronell also says that the Maduro government launched a counter-intelligence operation in response to the leak, “looking for the traitor who delivered this.”

The head of the channel’s news division, Colombian journalist Daniel Coronell, said that he was contacted a couple of weeks ago by a Venezuelan source, who told him about the existence of the material.

The hegemony tried to minimize the damage by releasing their own version of the interview, but the fact that Communications Minister Jorge Rodríguez simply sat idle all this time and only reacted when caught off-guard is just weak. After all, he has been capable of creating elaborated narratives with much less than this at his disposal.

Let’s remember, the interview with Maduro came into fruition because of Jorge Rodríguez himself, who approved Univisión’s request after previous ones were rejected. Miraflores asked to see the questions in advance, and the network refused.

As for the interview itself, there’s not much to comment. Ramos went for the jugular right from the start and his counterpart quickly lost his temper. At the time, Maduro was doing multiple sit-downs with international media, and in some of them he became testy. With BBC’s Orla Guerin and ABC’s Tom Llamas, he slipped some anger on his already familiar series of responses, and even in the second Salvados interview, with Jordi Evole, he got so irritated that J-Rod had to personally intervene.

Beyond the content of this particular meeting, or the specific circumstances of how it went public, this incident is in itself a reminder of the fierce struggle that covering Venezuela has turned out to be, for foreign correspondents and specially for local journalists. The fact that reporters had to force themselves into our own National Assembly, against a military force who obstructed their access for weeks (sometimes with the support of chavista groups) is another demonstration of both the dire state of our freedom of speech and the determination of plenty of my colleagues to keep doing their work, despite adversity.

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