CARACAS, Tuesday March 15, 2005 | Update
IAPA mid-year meeting ended Monday in Panama with the Assembly resolutions (Photo: Arnulfo Blanco / AP)
The Inter-American Press Association (IAPA), which groups some 350 newspaper editors, underscored Monday in its resolution on Venezuela that several laws issued recently by the Venezuelan National Assembly "submit to government mandates the regulation of the contents of the information and programming broadcast by private radio and TV stations, and enforce laws that disavow and criminalize dissident public opinion."
IAPA condemned the Venezuelan government for trying to "curtail democratic freedoms and annihilate freedom of speech."
In a resolution issued at the end of the half-year meeting held in Panama, the organization requested from international and hemispheric organizations to take a stance on the violations of freedom of speech in Venezuela, Efe reported.
IAPA agreed to "condemn the behavior of the Venezuelan government, intended to curtail democratic freedoms, reduce the guaranties characteristic in the rule of law and thus, annihilate freedom of speech and press."
International and hemispheric organizations, particularly the Organization of American States (OAS) Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression should "take a stance on repeated violations of freedom of speech and press in Venezuela."
Such violations "involve overt offenses of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, OAS principles on freedom of expression and IAPA Chapultepec Declaration" on freedom of press, the resolution stressed.
According to IAPA, "in Venezuela, state branches are subject to the President's (Hugo Chávez) exclusive act and deed, with the principles of independence and separation of powers being undermined."
This "has occurred deliberatively, in order to disguise under legal formulas, threats, violations and aggression against freedom of speech and press," the organization added.
Additionally, as a result of the risks in the institutional and legislative areas in Venezuela, there is "gradual self-censorship," and removal of "a number of talk shows" on radio and TV.
During a session beginning last Friday and ending Monday, IAPA denounced escalation in Venezuela of "government attacks on journalists for expressing their ideas and for timely information."
Translated by Conchita Delgado
02:57 PM. HEAVY RAINS. Venezuelan Executive Vice-President Elias Jaua reported that the government is designing plans to support farmers, cattlemen and peasants of the state of Mérida who have been hit by heavy rains that have caused crop losses.