Rising attacks on journalists; book censorship
Attacks on print journalists

Practising journalism in Venezuela has become increasingly hazardous in recent years, with attacks on print journalists rising by 50 per cent, from 13 incidents recorded by the Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) in 2007 to 19 in 2008 (see table below for breakdown of 2008 figures).

VENEZUELA – Leocenis GARCIA (aporrea.org)2008 saw the murder of newspaper director Pierre Fould Gerges and the imprisonment on dubious charges and alleged torture of editor Leocenis Garcia. Physical assaults in particular rose, with eight journalists and one newspaper targeted for attack. The majority of attacks were reportedly carried out by individuals associated to the state or groups identified as pro-government, in retaliation for critical reporting on state activities and corruption or for allegedly encouraging assassination attempts on President Chávez.

VENEZUELA 2008
Type of persecution
Number of cases
Killed 1
Imprisoned: investigation
1
On trial
3
Brief detention
1
Death threats
1
Physical attacks
9
Threatened
2
Harassed
1
Total
19

Book censorship: controls on the importation of foreign literature

Another serious concern is that the Venezuelan government is reportedly imposing controls on the importation of foreign books in the name of protecting national industry. This is having a significant impact on the public’s right to read such authors as Milan Kundera, Michael Cunningham, Javier Cercas and Yasunari Kawabata. It is not known what criteria are being used to grant or deny permission.

The WiPC believes that these controls constitute a form of de facto book censorship. It is working with PEN Venezuela to monitor the situation, with the aim of producing a report later in 2009.

For more information on current and past Venezuelan cases, click here.