Venezuelan NGO denounces gov’t targetting radio broadcasters
The Venezuelan Non-Government Organization (NGO) Espacio Público reported the closure of 284 radio stations nationwide between 2003 and 2022 by the National Telecommunications Commission (Conatel) and security forces. Broadcasters accounted for 71% of the media outlets put out of circulation under Chavism.
In 2022 the Venezuelan State ordered the closure of at least 80 radio stations nationwide, which places 2022 as the year with the most radio stations closed in the last two decades, the organization said in a preliminary report according to which the National Telecommunications Commission (Conatel) and some security forces were actively involved in the proceedings claiming that the media were operating clandestinely.
One of the most frequent violations during 2022, according to Espacio Público, were the interruptions and failures of the Internet service, which amounted to 74 nationwide, also the responsibility of Cantv and Corpoelec.
In May, the Internet Observatory Ve Sin Filtro registered two multiple outages in states of the country, while on May 17 there was a critical outage of the provider Inter. The drop in connectivity was recorded at 60% and the most affected state was Yaracuy, which reached 69% of its normal connectivity values. In August there were several outages, mostly affecting the states of Cojedes, Guárico, Trujillo, Sucre, Barinas, Zulia, Falcón, Mérida, Distrito Capital, Táchira and Apure. In December, a Cantv fiber optic outage affected states in the east of the country, especially Bolivar, whose Internet connection dropped to 37% of its normal values.
Intimidation of press workers by security officials or public workers is a common situation during the coverage of news events. During 2022, at least 84 complaints were registered for this reason, mainly during journalistic guidelines carried out in health centers, citizen protests, and State institutions, Espacio Público also said.
Regarding arbitrary detentions, there was a 49% decrease from 2021. In at least 11 of these detentions, the Nicolás Maduro administration cited the 2017 Law Against Hate, which contravenes the minimum requirements of respect for human rights, the NGO report highlighted.
The young men Jholbert Godoy, Argelia Rovaina, Carlos Maneiro, and Luis Martinez were taken to the headquarters of the Bolivarian Service of National Intelligence (Sebin) and charged with incitement to hatred.
”On the night of January 10, José Urbina was murdered in his residence, at the hands of armed groups operating in the border area of Apure state. Urbina was director of the community radio station Frontera 92.5 FM and had warned that he had received threats for denouncing the actions of the [Bolivarian National Guard] GNB in armed conflicts in Puerto Paez, Apure state. One year after his death, the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV), the political organization to which Urbina belonged, demanded justice for his case, due to the lack of answers from the State, the NGO also stated.
Internet providers blocked some media while cyber attacks were detected due to unusual traffic coming from IP addresses controlled by Cantv.
As in recent years, most of the violations to freedom of expression were registered on the Internet. On this occasion, 118 cases (52%) correspond to online violations, which implies an increase of 10% compared to 2021. This segment includes Internet service interruptions, either due to failures or fluctuations in the electric service, blockages to web portals, as well as reprisals against citizens or the media for the dissemination of information online,” Espacio Público said.
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