CARACAS, Wednesday July 19, 2006 | Update
Reporters delivered evidence of harasment to IAPA directors (Photo: Courtesy)
During a visit a mission of the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) paid Tuesday to Ciudad Guayana, southern Bolívar state, to verify alleged aggressions against newspaper El Correo del Caroní, the president of IAPA Committee on Freedom of the Press Gonzalo Marroquín said they verified the fact that the regional daily is the target of harassment.
On Tuesday, the IAPA delegates met with the president of the Ciudad Guayana Lawyers' Professional Association Luz María Alvarez in order to establish the legal aspect surrounding the situation facing the newspaper.
"We have collected enough evidence showing that this very prestigious local newspaper has been under harassment," Marroquín said, adding that IAPA is to issue a statement urging authorities to put an end to such aggressions against El Correo del Caroní.
In Marroquín's view, it is apparent that El Correo del Caroní has been under attack, as aggressions have gone beyond mere threats.
Two months ago, the Legislative Council of Bolívar state recommended Caroní Municipality Mayoralty to evict and demolish the premises where El Correo del Caroní operates. However, such an action has made no progress at the relevant municipal bodies. In this connection, Marroquín stated: "Things were beyond threats, as an official body made a recommendation. While the Mayoralty has taken no actions, this is harassment." He added that threats "against a newspaper running counter the official trends could become true at any time."
Marroquín stressed that any evidence on the ownership of the plot of land where the newspaper operates should be fully assessed. "It is unconceivable that they try to close down a building, thus damaging the image and history of a newspaper such as El Correo del Caroní."
The IAPA mission claimed they believed that "judicial harassment is being used to harass both media and reporters."
The IAPA delegation was scheduled to meet with Caroní Municipality Mayor Clemente Scotto, but he refused to meet with them. "I am busy with community issues, and I cannot welcome them, but they can feel free to pay their visit," Scotto said.
Marroquín regretted Scotto's action, saying the IAPA mission just wanted to hear the official version of the facts."
Translated by Maryflor Suárez R.