July 17, 2012

The Media

Expanded Powers to Censor and Punish Critics

A Decade Under Chávez documented how President Chávez and his supporters in the National Assembly had undermined freedom of expression through a variety of laws and policies aimed at influencing the control and content of the country’s mass media. Specifically, they had expanded the scope of criminal law punishing expression deemed to insult public officials and established draconian penalties for defamation, including increased prison sentences and onerous fines. Under reforms to the criminal code enacted in 2005, they had increased the number of public officials benefiting from the protection of insult laws and greatly increased penalties, including prison terms, for criminal defamation.

Additionally, the 2004 Law on Social Responsibility in Radio and Television (hereinafter the “Broadcasting Law”) expanded the scope of an already broad prohibition on incitement and established severe penalties for broadcasters that violated it.[155] Under the 2004 law, broadcast media can face suspension and ultimately revocation of their licenses for broadcasting material deemed to “promote, justify, or incite” war, breaches of public order, or crime. The transmission of such material can also be banned under this law. Enforcement of these provisions is left to the state broadcasting authority, the National Telecommunications Commission (Comisión Nacional de Telecomunicaciones, CONATEL), which answers directly to the vice president of the country. The broad and imprecise wording of the incitement provisions, the severity of the penalties, and the fact that the law is enforced by an executive branch agency all increase the broadcast media’s vulnerability to arbitrary interference and pressure to engage in self-censorship.

Since 2008, President Chávez and his supporters have adopted additional amendments to applicable laws that further expand the government’s ability to regulate the media and to harass and intimidate critical media outlets.

In December 2010, the National Assembly amended the Broadcasting Law to extend existing restrictions on free speech to the internet. The amended law prohibits electronic media from transmitting messages that “foment anxiety in the public or disturb public order,” “incite or promote disobedience of the current legal order,” “refuse to recognize the legitimately constituted authority,” or “incite or promote hatred or intolerance.”[156] CONATEL may order internet service providers to restrict access to websites that contain expressions deemed to violate these restrictions. Both websites and service providers that fail to comply with such orders are subject to fines of up to 4 percent of their gross income in the previous tax year.[157]

In addition, the December 2010 law expands the government’s control over radio and television broadcasters, similarly prohibiting them from broadcasting messages that “foment anxiety in the public or disturb public order” or “refuse to recognize the legitimately constituted authority.” It also prohibits radio and television broadcasters from airing “anonymous” messages. CONATEL can sanction any violation of this prohibition by suspending their transmissions for up to 72 hours and/or imposing a fine of up to 10 percent of their gross income in the previous tax year. The agency can also revoke broadcasters’ licenses if they are deemed to have aired messages “against the security of the nation.”[158]

Under the 2010 Broadcasting Law, CONATEL also has broad powers to censor information. CONATEL can order radio stations, television stations, or electronic media to “abstain from issuing messages” that could violate the law. These “precautionary measures” can be adopted by CONATEL preemptively, before a determination has been made regarding whether a violation has in fact taken place. If a media outlet violates the precautionary measure, CONATEL may revoke the outlet’s permit to operate.[159]

In December 2010, the National Assembly also amended the Organic Law on Telecommunications to grant CONATEL the power to suspend or revoke broadcasting concessions to private outlets if it considers that such action is “convenient for the interests of the nation, or if public order and security demands it.”[160]

RCTV

Radio Caracas Televisión (RCTV) was once one of Venezuela’s most widely watched television stations and a constant critic of President Chávez. By 2006, it was one of just two stations available without cable television service that maintained an editorial line openly critical of the government.[161]

In response to this critical coverage, President Chávez had repeatedly threatened not to renew RCTV’s broadcasting concession—including in November 2006 after the channel broadcast footage of Chávez’s energy minister telling his employees at the state oil company that they should resign from their jobs if they did not support the president’s political agenda.[162] The following month, President Chávez made good on the promise, announcing on a nationwide broadcast that he would not renew RCTV’s broadcasting license when it expired in 2007. Filmed standing on a military parade ground, he declared that Venezuela would no longer tolerate private media “at the service of coup-plotting, against the people, against the nation, against the independence of the nation, and against the dignity of the Republic!”[163]

RCTV stopped transmitting on the public airwaves in May 2007.[164] That same month, the Supreme Court ordered the “temporary” transfer—which remains in effect five years later—of RCTV’s equipment to TVES, the state channel created to replace RCTV.[165] In July 2007, RCTV created a cable station, called RCTV International, which continued to produce programming critical of President Chávez.

Since then, the Chávez administration has again moved against RCTV, this time using its regulatory power to drive the channel off cable television. In January 2010, CONATEL determined that RCTV International was a “national audiovisual producer”—which meant it was subject to regulations CONATEL had enacted a month earlier for cable channels with more than 30 percent Venezuelan-produced programming—including the obligation to interrupt regular programming to air mandatory government and presidential broadcasts, and a prohibition on interrupting regular programming with commercial advertisements.[166] (Advertisements must instead be run between programs.)

Days after CONATEL made this determination, Chávez’s communications minister threatened to open administrative investigations against cable providers whose broadcast channels were not in compliance with the new norms. In response, the country’s cable providers stopped broadcasting RCTV International.[167] (The cable providers also stopped broadcasting six other channels, but resumed broadcasting these shortly thereafter.)[168]

RCTV asked CONATEL to reconsider its decision to classify its cable channel as a “national audiovisual producer,” stating that it would adapt its programing to fit the criteria of an “international channel.”[169] CONATEL rejected the request.

RCTV subsequently requested that CONATEL formally register the channel as a national audiovisual producer. But CONATEL rejected this request as well, maintaining that RCTV had taken more than 15 working days—since CONATEL’s January 15 decision—to file the request, which, under Venezuelan administrative law, means that the petitioners had “desisted” from their interest in filing such a claim.[170] In fact, according to official documents from CONATEL, the station had been notified of the decision on January 21, had asked CONATEL to revisit its decision on February 8, and had subsequently filed the petition to be registered as a national audiovisual producer on February 22.There was never a period of 15 working days in which RCTV had failed to act.[171]

In other words, CONATEL refused to let RCTV register as an international channel because it determined it was in fact a “national” channel, and then refused to allow it to register as a “national” channel on the grounds that the broadcaster had missed the deadline for registering. 

RCTV representatives told Human Rights Watch that they have since repeatedly sought to be registered as a national audiovisual producer but that every time they go to CONATEL headquarters during working hours, they are told by CONATEL officials that the “registry is closed.”[172] (In February 2012, Human Rights Watch asked CONATEL for updated information on the status of RCTV’s request, but received no response.[173])

In addition to requesting that CONATEL register RCTV International, the company on February 22, 2010 asked CONATEL for authorization to create a new international channel, RCTV Mundo. Once again, CONATEL rejected the petition, stating that the information provided on RCTV Mundo’s future programming was “inexact and incomplete.”[174]

RCTV has presented multiple legal appeals to the Supreme Court, but as of March 2012, all of the appeals remained pending.[175] RCTV’s petitions include an appeal of CONATEL’s 2007 decision to take RCTV off the air; an appeal of the 2007 Supreme Court decision ordering the “temporary” transfer of RCTV’s equipment to TVES; a constitutional appeal of the 2009 CONATEL regulations defining “national audiovisual producer”; an appeal against CONATEL’s decision to apply such regulations to RCTV International; and an appeal of CONATEL’s failure to register RCTV International as a national audiovisual producer.[176]

Today, RCTV International can only be viewed on the internet. RCTV used to broadcast five hours of news and opinion shows per day. RCTV International subsequently reduced that to a single hour of news per day. In April 2012, all news coverage by RCTV was suspended due to lack of resources.[177]

Globovisión

The closure of RCTV left Globovisión as the only television channel in Venezuela available without cable (and Globovisión is available only in Caracas and Valencia) that remains critical of the Chávez administration. Since its airwave concession extends through 2015, the channel has not faced imminent threat of non-renewal. However, the Chávez government has repeatedly reacted to Globovisión’s critical reporting by opening administrative investigations that could lead to the station’s suspension or closure.

For example, in June 2011, Globovisión reported on a prison riot and clashes between inmates and members of the National Guard in the El Rodeo prison complex near Caracas, which led to the death of at least 25 people and injuries to approximately 60 others, including inmates and members of the National Guard. During the broadcast, Globovisión reporters interviewed distressed family members, who stated that members of the National Guard were “massacring,” “killing,” “burning,” and “beating” prisoners.[178] (Human rights defenders also reported on possible excessive use of force by security forces during the confrontations.)[179]

President Chávez responded to the coverage by publicly accusing Globovisión of “sett[ing] the country on fire” with “the sole purpose of overthrowing this government.”[180]Pedro Maldonado, CONATEL’s director general, declared that Globovisión’s coverage was “unacceptable,” claiming that the station had aired on “almost 300 occasions the “most heart-felt” and “desperate” testimonies by 18 relatives of inmates, while not airing all the statements made by government officials. He also claimed that the station had added the sound of machineguns that were not part of the original audio track (a claim that Globovisión has denied).[181] 

CONATEL opened an administrative investigation into Globovisión’s use of the testimonies in its coverage. It also said it would investigate whether Globovisión had violated the Broadcasting Law by airing images of members of the National Guard throwing teargas canisters, of a security force vehicle dispersing protesters with a water cannon, of a helicopter flying over the area, and of people hiding to avoid the teargas or running. [182]

Four months later, CONATEL ruled against Globovisión, imposing a US$ 2.1 million fine, which is equivalent to 7.5 percent of the company’s 2010 income.[183] According to CONATEL, Globovisión had “aired messages that promoted alterations of public order, incited the commission of crimes... [and] promoted hatred for political reasons that generated anxiety in the population.”[184] CONATEL determined that Globovisión committed those faults by repeatedly airing the statements of 18 alleged family members that were “compelling, charged with feelings and expressions of desperation”; by airing images that “falsely showed a situation of continuous alteration”; by “suggesting or stating” that authorities had failed to comment on the incidents; by “incorrectly inform[ing] about the inexistence of official information”; and by only once airing images showing individuals throwing rocks at the National Guard.[185]

Globovisión appealed the sanction, requesting a court an injunction to suspend its obligation to pay the fine until courts ruled on the merits of the case. A lower court judge rejected the appeal, a decision that was upheld by the Supreme Court in March 2012.[186] CONATEL subsequently asked the courts to force Globovisión to pay the fine.[187] Globovisión paid the fine in June 2012, after the Supreme Court ordered the seizure of Globovisión's assets to pay for it.[188] (According to Globovisión’s lawyer, the “considerable” effort that the channel needs to make to pay the fine “affects [its] financial stability and seriously complicates its operations and finances.”)[189]

Under the Broadcasting Law enacted by President Chávez and his supporters, if CONATEL were to rule against Globovisión in a second case, it could impose another monetary sanction, suspend its transmission, or revoke the channel’s broadcasting license.[190] The agency currently has six additional administrative investigations open against Globovisión.

One case involves Globovisión’s coverage of an earthquake in May 2009, in which the station cited information regarding the epicenter and magnitude provided by the US government’s Earthquake Hazards Program, because (according to the channel) the website of the Venezuelan Foundation of Seismic Investigations (Fundación Venezolana de Investigaciones Sismológicas, FUNVISIS) was down.[191] During the coverage, a Globovisión reporter stated that we are very worried because...we cannot find any authority to ask for precise, exact information. (The reporter also stated that everything is quiet [now], everything is peaceful.”)[192]

The following day, Cilia Flores, the pro-Chávez president of the National Assembly, criticized Globovisión’s coverage of the earthquake, accusing the reporter of “blaming the government for being irresponsible” and “generating terror in the population.”[193] The National Assembly subsequently asked CONATEL to open an investigation.[194]

CONATEL opened the investigation two days later, transcribing the journalist's statements about the difficulty in obtaining official information and having to rely on US sources for data on the earthquake. CONATEL argued that Globovisión had “continuously and repeatedly aired...messages regarding the earthquake” during an entire day, that these messages “could unjustifiably generate a feeling of anxiety and fear in the population,” and that they could “be contrary to the security of the nation and presumably promote or incite alterations of public order.”[195] At this writing, the investigation remains open.

Another case involves Globovisión’s coverage of elections in November 2008, during which the channel broadcast footage of Enrique Salas Feo, the opposition candidate for governor in Carabobo state, criticizing the National Electoral Council for not reporting that he had won the vote the day after it took place. Salas Feo claimed that the National Electoral Council had access to 97.75 percent of the electoral ballots, that all preliminary results confirmed he had won the elections, and that there was no reason to delay publicizing the final results. He urged the people in Carabobo “to go to with [him] to the Electoral Council to demand [recognition of our] victory in Carabobo.” Explaining his intentions, he stated: “We are simply asking for respect of the popular will... The only thing we’re asking the National Electoral Council to do is release the final results because they cannot keep this region without results, which everyone knows.”[196]  

Three days later, CONATEL opened an administrative investigation, arguing that Globovisión had aired “messages that could presumably promote, vindicate, or incite alterations of public order.”[197] According to the head of CONATEL’s Directorate of Social Responsibility, Salas Feo had “urged the people of Carabobo to violently take over the regional office of the National Electoral Council.”[198] Yet CONATEL’s decision provides no evidence that Salas Feo’s statements urged people to take over the installations, let alone do so violently. At this writing, the investigation remains open.

Three of the other four administrative investigations involve: 1) statements by the host of a political talk show who compared Chávez to Mussolini and suggested that Chávez could “end up like Mussolini, hanging with his head down”[199]; 2) the airing of a political advertisement in which individuals say they will defend their private property from any effort to take it away from them[200]; 3) the airing of messages that could have contributed to the commission of crimes, though CONATEL has not informed Globovisión which messages or which crimes.[201]

The fourth investigation concerns the displaying in 2009 of text messages from viewers across the bottom of the screen mentioning the possibility of an upcoming coup d’etat.[202] While the state has a legitimate interest in investigating genuine threats to national security or public order, as with the other investigations, CONATEL has failed to provide any updated information on the status of this investigation. To keep an investigation open for over two and half years into actions that were alleged to constitute potential incitement at the time the investigation was opened calls into question whether there was ever deemed to be any credible threat or whether the investigation was an excuse to open yet another case against a critical broadcaster.

In February 2012, Human Rights Watch asked CONATEL for updated information on the status of the six pending investigations against Globovisión, but received no response.[203]

Globovisión President Guillermo Zuloaga

In March 2010, Globovisión’s president, Guillermo Zuloaga, delivered a speech at a conference of the Inter-American Press Association in Aruba in which he criticized President Chávez for the closure of RCTV and accused him of having ordered the shooting of demonstrators prior to the 2002 coup.

During the speech, Zuloaga declared: “It is not possible to talk about true free expression when a government uses its forces to repress the media, to close media outlets like Radio Caracas Televisión after 53 years on air” or “when there are more than 2,000 mandatory presidential broadcasts...[by] a President of the Republic, using his power and authority to manipulate public opinion and to try to impose a line of thought.”[204]

When journalists from Venezuelan state media who were at the presentation accused him of having participated in the April 2002 coup d’état against Chávez, Zuloaga stated that Chávez had “ordered the shooting” of demonstrators prior to the coup. (Zuloaga also asserted that, at the time of the coup, the Armed Forces “had declared publicly that they had asked Chávez to resign and he had accepted,” and said that he was “against what happened at that time because if it had been done correctly, we would have a different Venezuela.”) [205]  

Two days later, the National Assembly publicly “rejected” Zuloaga’s statements in Aruba and called for a criminal investigation, alleging the Globovisión president had made “a series of false accusations” against President Chávez.[206]

The Attorney General's Office immediately began investigating Zuloaga. Two days later, it obtained an arrest warrant on charges of committing “the crimes of false information and offenses against the head of state.”[207]Zuloaga was detained that day, and was then granted conditional liberty, with a prohibition on leaving the country without the court’s permission.[208]

In early June 2010, in a televised speech, President Chávez expressed outrage that Zuloaga was free, insisting that he should be imprisoned for the accusation he had made in Aruba regarding the 2002 coup. He also commented that Globovisión’s president had “a bunch of cars in his house [which] is a crime”—an oblique reference to the fact that a criminal investigation had been opened in May 2009 against Zuloaga and his son, who ran an auto retail business, for allegedly obtaining illegal economic benefits by keeping 24 cars off the market in order to increase their value.[209]

Two days later, members of the National Guard arrived at Zuloaga’s home, saying they were conducting an investigation on illegal hunting, and seized his collection of hunting trophies.[210] The following week a judge issued arrest warrants for Zuloaga and his son to face criminal charges for alleged irregularities in their auto retail business.[211] Zuloaga’s lawyers maintain that the investigation had been stalled for months, and there was no new evidence that justified the arrest warrant.[212]

On the day the warrant was issued, Zuloaga and his son fled to the United States, where they now reside. At this writing, the case against Zuloaga for alleged irregularities in his car sales business, as well as the criminal investigations of his statements in Aruba and the alleged violation of environmental laws, remain open.

Globovisión Owner Nelson Mezerhane

In December 2009, Nelson Mezerhane, one of the principal owners of Globovisión and owner of a private bank, gave an interview to a business newspaper in which he praised the work of Chávez’s economy ministers but claimed that individuals “linked to the government” had spread rumors that provoked withdrawals of savings from Venezuelan banks.[213]

The interview was published at a time when the Chávez administration was nationalizing banks with the purported aim of guaranteeing Venezuelans access to their savings in bank accounts.[214]

Two days after Mezerhane’s interview was published, President Chávez denounced him in a televised speech for making “extremely serious and irresponsible” statements, and said he would ask the attorney general “to open a formal investigation.”[215] In another televised speech several days later, the president said “those excesses cannot be permitted” and denounced Mezerhane once again, this time identifying him as an owner of a powerful “opposition channel” and stating:

[I]f he is going to get into politics, then get into politics. As for the bank, give it to me, to the State, sir, and you [Mezerhane] go into politics. I will not allow it. And the same thing happens with the media. If a television station crosses the line again, violating the laws, lacking respect for society, the State, or institutions, it cannot, it should not remain open.[216]

Two days later, at President Chávez’s behest, the Attorney General’s Office opened a criminal investigation of Mezerhane.[217] Six months later, it seized several of Mezerhane’s assets, including his home, personal belongings, and his Globovisión shares, while the office in charge of overseeing banks and institutions of the financial sector (called the Superintendencia de las Instituciones del Sector Bancario, SUDEBAN) ordered a takeover of his bank, alleging it had failed to comply with applicable banking laws.[218] The Attorney General’s Office also forbade Mezerhane from leaving the country, but, according to his lawyer, he was abroad at the time and never returned.[219] In July, prosecutors charged Mezerhane with several banking crimes, including conspiracy, providing false financial information, and fraudulent mishandling of public funds.[220]

A day after the attorney general announced that Mezerhane had been charged with crimes, Chávez denounced Globovisión for its coverage of the bank takeover, declaring that government would not allow a TV channel to “light the country on fire.” Referring to Globovisión’s “fugitive owners,” the president said the station was “trying to destabilize the country but we will not permit it” and announced: “I will wait a little bit to see if Globovisión’s owners appear, it is necessary to wait and see if they appear, because they are on the run. We’ll have to think about what will happen to this channel.”[221] In another televised speech several weeks later, he stated: “We now hold 25.8 percent of [Globovision’s] shares, and that gives the right to the holder to appoint a member to the Board of Directors.”[222]

In August 2010, the Supreme Court authorized prosecutors to seek Mezerhane’s extradition from the United States.[223] In February 2011, Interpol removed Mezerhane from its list of “red notice” alerts, arguing that several cases from Venezuela (including this one) were related to political persecutions. Attorney General Ortega Díaz criticized the decision as favoring impunity and constituting “meddling” in Venezuelan internal affairs.[224]

 

Globovisión Commentator Oswaldo Álvarez Paz

On March 8, 2010, Oswaldo Álvarez Paz, an opposition politician and former governor of Zulia state, appeared on Globovisión’s main political talk show, “Aló Ciudadano,” and commented on allegations that had been made stating the Chávez government had a relationship with “terrorist” groups and had failed to contain drug trafficking in Venezuela.

During the show, the hosts read statements by Spanish President Rodríguez Zapatero in a radio interview regarding a recent Spanish court ruling that refers to “indications of collaboration between ETA, FARC, and the Venezuelan government.” Zapatero said he would seek Venezuelan government cooperation with these investigations.[225] When asked his opinion, Álvarez Paz stated that the Spanish judicial ruling “provided legal basis” for suspicions “that something very serious is happening in terms of the Venezuelan government’s relations not only with ETA, [but also] with the FARC, with other subversive and terrorist movements of the world.”[226] He also said that if he were president, he would fully cooperate with the Spanish investigation, “no matter who fell” even if it meant that “the one who falls is the head of state.”[227] 

During the interview, Álvarez Paz also said that Chávez was “not a democrat” and that he had a “subversive personality.”[228] And when the host read a news article reporting that drug traffickers had been attempting to purchase airplanes in Venezuela, Álvarez Paz said that the article confirmed that “Venezuela had turned into a center of operations that facilitates the business of drug trafficking.”[229]

The next day, President Chávez reacted by stating in a mandatory presidential broadcast that Álvarez Paz’s statements were “very grave,” “could not be permitted,” and constituted “a crime that is subject to prison sentences.” He urged other branches of government to “take action.”[230] That same day, two legislators from Chávez’s political party filed a criminal complaint with the Attorney General’s Office.[231]

Two weeks later, Álvarez Paz was arrested. On March 19, a prosecutor accused Álvarez Paz of conspiracy, public incitement, and disseminating false information.[232] A judge subsequently ordered his pretrial detention, arguing that the dissemination on TV of his “evidently false statements... is so grave and irresponsible that it may, and does effectively cause... an unfounded fear” in the Venezuelan people.[233]

Álvarez Paz remained in pretrial detention for almost two months. In May 2010, after prosecutors dropped the conspiracy charge, a judge granted him conditional liberty, ordering him to present himself before the court every 15 days, remain in the country, and refrain from publicly commenting on the case.[234]

In July 2011, a court found Álvarez Paz guilty of disseminating false information. Citing jurisprudence from the Venezuelan Supreme Court that says that crimes related to drug trafficking are crimes against humanity, the judge concluded that Álvarez Paz’s statements had generated “anguish in the people that results in a natural condition of extreme preoccupation and… anxiety.”[235] (According to international law, a false allegation of government complicity in drug trafficking would not constitute a “crime against humanity.”)[236]

The judge sentenced Álvarez Paz to two years in prison, but allowed him to serve his sentence in conditional liberty, with a prohibition on leaving the country without judicial authorization.[237] As of May 2012, an appeal presented by Álvarez Paz against the conviction remained pending.[238]

Tu Imagen TV

In November 2010, the pro-Chávez mayor of a municipality in Miranda state, José Ramírez, wrote to the cable company Tele Red, calling on it to stop broadcasting Tu Imagen TV, a local cable channel that was critical of the municipal government.

Ramírez accused the channel of having been “systematically biased in favor of the political opposition,” and having aired “distorted messages against the municipality’s government.” The only example provided in the letter was an interview with a member of Ramírez’s family (with whom he had “personal differences”) who had made “pompous allegations that were offensive to human dignity and my position as mayor.”[239] He provided no information on the content of the comments.

Claiming he was exercising his “rights to ensure the government and the Bolivarian Revolution are respected,”[240] Ramírez sent a copy of the letter to CONATEL, which subsequently ordered Tele Red to suspend Tu Imagen TV’s broadcasts indefinitely. The reason CONATEL provided for the order was that the channel and the cable company—which had operated under an oral contract for eight years—had failed to comply with 2009 regulations that required a written contract between the parties.[241]  

The following month, Tu Imagen TV and Tele Red presented a signed contract to CONATEL.[242] But the telecommunications authority waited eight months before authorizing the cable company to renew broadcasting of the channel. In addition, according to Douglas Abreu, Tu Imagen TV’s general director, a senior CONATEL official warned Tele Red that that the channel would be removed from cable once again if it produced programs criticizing the government. Abreu told Human Rights Watch, “We’re back on the air, but working under pressure.”[243] 

Censoring Satire

On August 20, 2011, the weekly newspaper 6to Poder published a satirical article that presented six high level female government authorities—including Attorney General Luisa Ortega Díaz and Supreme Court President Luisa Estella Morales Lamuño—as performers in a cabaret entitled “The Revolution,” directed by “Mr. Chávez.”[244] The article—which also provided information on the women’s actual jobs, academic training, and professional backgrounds—described their close relationship with “Mr. Chávez” and suggested that they do President Chávez’s bidding. Accompanying the article was a photomontage in which the officials’ faces were superimposed upon the image of a cabaret troupe.[245]

The day the article appeared, the six officials called for a criminal investigation and for the paper to be closed down.[246] Within hours, a prosecutor sought—and a judge delivered—an arrest warrant for the paper’s director, Dinora Girón, and its president, Leocenis García, on charges of “instigation of public hatred.”[247]

Girón was arrested the following day by members of the Bolivarian Intelligence Service, an intelligence police that reports to the Ministry of Justice and Interior, and charged with the crimes of insult, instigation of hatred, and public offense based on gender.[248] She was granted conditional liberty two days later, with orders to appear before judicial authorities every 15 days and a prohibition on commenting publicly on her case.[249]

García went into hiding but turned himself in on August 30.[250] He was formally charged with insult, instigation of public hatred, and public offense based on gender, and imprisoned for two months. He was granted conditional liberty only after he conducted a 12-day hunger strike to protest his imprisonment.[251] The court forbade him from leaving the country, discussing his case with the media, and participating in public demonstrations.[252]

At this writing, both Girón and García remain under criminal investigation awaiting trial. Their lawyers advised Human Rights Watch that the pretrial preliminary hearing required by law had been repeatedly suspended in both cases because prosecutors have not attended the hearings.[253]

When issuing the arrest warrants, the judge also ordered 6to Poder to suspend all further distribution of its paper.[254] A week later, the court lifted the ban but ordered 6to Poder to avoid publishing material, either in text or photographs, that constitutes “an offense and/or insult to the reputation, or to the decorum, of any representative of public authorities, and whose objective is to expose them to public disdain or hatred,” as well as any “humiliating and offensive content against the female gender.” It also ordered 6to Poder to ensure that no copies of the paper with the satirical piece remained available to the public.[255]

 

Censoring News Coverage

In early February 2012, after a sewer broke in a petroleum plant in Monagas state, tens of thousands of barrels of petroleum were spilled in the Guarapiche River. Within a few days, the government reported that the vast majority of petroleum had been removed from the river. Yet the governor of Monagas, José Gregorio Briceño, announced that he would not be reopening a water treatment plant because tests had found “traces of petroleum sediment” in the river. [256] The official Venezuelan News Agency, reporting on Briceño’s comments, also observed that tests performed in the area “showed signs of hydrocarbons.” [257]

In mid-March, after the dispute over whether the water was contaminated received widespread news coverage, Chávez’s political party expelled Briceño.[258] Chávez’s vice president, Elías Jaua, explained that the party had repeatedly warned Briceño in the past that he should end his public statements attacking members of the party and going against party lines but Briceño had “persisted in his attacks.”[259] On Twitter, Chávez stated, “I fully support our [party’s] decision! I think governor Briceño reached his limit.”[260]

The following day, Chávez’s environmental minister, Alejandro Hitcher, responding to complaints about the water by an opposition party leader who stated that water in Caracas was contaminated, declared that the water was potable and that these comments were part of a “terrorist campaign” by the opposition.[261]

Several days later, in a televised speech, President Chávez echoed this charge, stating that the comments on the water contamination constituted “a dirty war” and that those who made them must “assume the responsibility for the attack to the mental health of the people.”[262] He also called on the attorney general and the president of the Supreme Court to “assume their responsibilities,” saying, “We should at least open an investigation.”[263]

In a press conference the day after the president’s speech, the attorney general announced that her office had opened a criminal investigation and was seeking a court order to prevent media outlets from reporting that water was contaminated without providing a scientific study as evidence.[264] The court granted the injunction on the same day, using very vague language that ordered all print and broadcast media to have “truthful, technical support approved by a competent body” before disseminating information on alleged contamination of drinking water.[265]

Two veteran TV and radio journalists told Human Rights Watch that, given the vague terms of the injunction—which did not specify what was meant by “truthful or technical support” or by a “competent body”—they were not able to cover the issue of alleged water contamination properly.[266] One of them stated that his producers immediately told him he could only report on possible water contamination if his report relied exclusively on official statements. The other said the injunction prohibited them from broadcasting the testimony of individuals who have been affected by what they believe was unclean water.

Censoring Violent Images           

In August 2010, the independent newspaper, El Nacional, published on its front page a photograph of a dozen naked corpses in the Bello Monte morgue in Caracas. The faces of the dead men were blurred and the bodies were piled on stretchers and on the floor. The image accompanied an article about illegal arms and violence in Venezuela, and included a caption stating that 2,177 corpses had been taken to the Bello Monte morgue in the first six months of 2010.[267] 

The high levels of violence, in particular soaring crime rates and the number of people killed by firearms in the country, is a major public concern and news topic in Venezuela.

The day the photograph ran, the Ombudsman’s Office sought a court order requiring the newspaper to “avoid the publication of images with a violent, bloody, or grotesque content...that in one way or another, affects the mental and moral integrity of children and adolescents.”[268] The Ombudsman’s Office argued that viewing such images “distort[s] and perturb[s] [children], affecting their personality and… their future” and “leave[s] lasting impressions, which affect their mental and… psychological health.”[269] After the newspaper Tal Cual reprinted the image in its own pages, the Ombudsman Office asked the court to expand the prohibition to all printed media in the country.[270]

Several days later, a judge imposed a broad injunction, ordering El Nacional to cease all publication of “images, information and publicity of any type containing blood, arms, and messages of terror, physical aggression, images with contents of war and messages about deaths that could alter the psychological well-being of boys, girls, and adolescents in Venezuela” until the court decided on the merits of the case.[271]

The judge also ordered all print media in the country to “abstain from publishing violent, bloody and grotesque images that undermine the psychic and moral integrity of childhood and adolescence.”[272] Two days later, the court allowed El Nacional to begin publishing articles and advertisements again, but maintained the prohibition on publishing violent images.[273] It also revoked the prohibition imposed on other media.[274]    

At this writing, while the case against El Nacional and Tal Cual remains pending before specialized court to protect children, the prohibition remains in effect. In addition, prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into El Nacional’s publication of the photograph.[275]

Censoring a Soap Opera

In January 2011, the popular Colombian soap opera “Chepe Fortuna”—aired in Venezuela on channel Televen—included a scene in which a character named Venezuela responds to the news that her dog, “Little Hugo” (Huguito), has been lost, by asking her boyfriend: “What will become of Venezuela without Huguito?” He tells her: “You will be free, Venezuela. Huguito made a habit of getting inside everybody’s business, making you look bad, Venezuela.” [276]

Soon after it was aired, the host of La Hojilla, the state TV channel’s political talk show, denounced the soap opera for showing “a lack of respect for Venezuela.” [277] A day later, CONATEL issued a public statement calling on Televen to “immediately suspend” the show on the grounds that it promoted “political and racial intolerance, xenophobia, and incitement to commit crimes”—a charge that could lead to civil, criminal, and administrative sanctions, including the suspension or revocation of its broadcasting license. [278]

The same day that CONATEL’s statement was issued, Televen stopped airing the soap opera.[279] President Chávez subsequently denounced the soap opera in a nationally televised speech before the National Assembly, and said that he had asked someone to talk to Televen’s owner so he would remove this show from the air because it demonstrated a lack of respect for Venezuela.[280]

Remaking the Media Landscape

The Chávez administration has for years sought to justify its media policies as efforts to democratize the media in Venezuela.[281] As Human Rights Watch observed in A Decade Under Chávez, governments are entitled to regulate the concentration of media ownership and to back public service and community outlets in order to promote a more diverse and plural public debate.[282]

Yet, instead of promoting pluralism, the Chávez government has used its regulatory authority to expand the number of pro-government media outlets, while reducing the availability of those that engage in critical programming. Moreover, the government’s major initiative to expand community radio has unfortunately been used to promote clear politically partisan goals.

While the Chávez administration only had one national TV channel during the early years of his government, today there are six public TV networks in the country, all of which maintain a strong pro-Chávez editorial line: Venezolana de Televisión, ViVe, TVes, Telesur, ANTV, and Ávila TV.[283] In addition, the National System of Public Media, created in 2006 to contribute to create a socialist conscience, includes an official news agency, the Venezuelan News Agency (Agencia Venezolana de Noticias); three newspapers, Ciudad Caracas, Diario Vea, and Correo del Orinoco; four radio stations, La Radio del Sur, Radio Nacional de Venezuela, Radio Mundial, Alba Ciudad; two websites, The Hugo Chávez Blog and Venezuela de Verdad; and a magazine, América XXI.[284]

As noted, the Venezuelan government has also promoted the creation of community radio stations by granting licenses, and by providing capital, infrastructure grants, and training. According to CONATEL, there are currently 244 community radio stations and 36 community TV stations in the country.[285] As we observed in the 2008 report, these efforts have had the positive effect of giving new opportunities for public expression to residents of many poor communities in Venezuela.

However, an examination of the manner in which the roll out of the program has been administered and enforced indicates that the thrust of this policy has been decidedly partisan. In a 2007 interview, Andrés Izarra, then minister of communication and information, identified the promotion of community media as part of the government’s pursuit of “communication and information hegemony.”[286] In 2009, Mileidys Marcano,a vice minister in the Office of the Presidency, described the community media as an “arm of the Bolivarian Revolution.”[287] 

Today the majority of community radio stations relies on the Chávez government for funding and has an editorial line that is favorable to the government. [288] The vast majority of these stations (around 200) are affiliated with the National Movement of Alternative and Community Media, whose members—according to the association’s founding declaration—share a “full commitment to the Bolivarian Revolution” and see themselves as the “communicational vanguard” in “the great battle for the defense of the Bolivarian process and the establishment of the rank and file of the socialist society of the 21st Century.” [289]

As the government has promoted pro-Chávez community radio stations, it has also moved to close private radio stations. The most dramatic closure came in July 2009 when CONATEL announced it was shutting down 32 radio stations. The official reason for the closures was that these stations were out of compliance with the licensing requirements in the Organic Law on Telecommunications.[290] Local advocates of press freedom, broadcasters critical of the government, and international observers, however, believe that many of the closures were arbitrary and politically motivated.[291]

There is evidence for this view. Among the 32 radio stations closed, for example, were five stations belonging to the Belfort National Circuit chain, which broadcast programming critical of the government.[292] Nelson Belfort, one of the owners of the Belfort Circuit, told Human Rights Watch that since 2000 they had made repeated requests to regularize the legal status of the stations but CONATEL had not responded. After the closures, CONATEL claimed that Belfort and the others operating the radio stations had relinquished their licenses.[293] In August 2009, Belfort challenged the closures before the Supreme Court, arguing that he was given no opportunity to present arguments or evidence to CONATEL prior to the closures.[294] (He also argued that CONATEL for years had recognized the stations, de facto, and that the closures were the consequence of the radio stations’ editorial line.) As of June 2012, the Supreme Court had still not resolved the appeal.[295]

The perception that the closures were politically motivated was reinforced by the fact that the head of CONATEL, when announcing the CONATEL's findings before the National Assembly, justified the government’s media policies with a sweeping claim that some radio stations were “try[ing] to destroy the Bolivarian Revolution...to distort what we have been doing in Venezuela, where they have a number of opinion-makers without license who make up their own news.”[296] Also, the National Assembly subsequently passed a resolution praising CONATEL’s efforts to “democratize the media” and to “protect the mental health of Venezuelans from media terrorism, exercised by private media outlets with editorial lines that serve the interests of the national and international oligarchy.”[297]

Along with the closures, CONATEL also announced in 2009 that it was reviewing the licensing status of an additional 200 radio stations, without identifying which stations these were.[298] To this day, it has not released the results of this review. 

More recently, in 2011, the agency announced a nationwide campaign “to control illegal telecommunications services,” and, according to press accounts, has since suspended and revoked the licenses of dozens of radio stations that it claimed had been operating illegally.[299] In February 2012, Human Rights Watch asked for updated information from CONATEL on the status of its investigations, but received no response.[300]

The Chávez government has not taken comparable steps to rein in the print media. In general, the country’s leading newspapers continue to be critical of the government. However, only a limited number of Venezuela’s more than 27 million people read them. In 2009, the most recent year for which we were able to obtain data, Últimas Noticias, the newspaper with greatest circulation, printed 260,000 copies per day. The circulation of the most critical papers was even smaller: El Nacional printed 120,000 copies per day; El Universal, 110,000; and Tal Cual, 40,000.[301]

Impact on Free Speech

The Chávez government’s harassment, intimidation, prosecution, and censorship of media critics have had a powerful impact on broadcasters and journalists in Venezuela.

The most visible anti-Chávez media outlet remaining in the country today, Globovisión, continues to broadcast commentary and news coverage that is highly critical of the government. Nonetheless, the station’s lawyers told Human Rights Watch that the administrative investigations CONATEL has opened against the channel have generated “enormous uncertainty” among its reporters.[302]For example, because CONATEL has forbade Globovisión from airing “any” information “similar” to the advertising campaign about private property that it was forced to take off the air, reporters are not sure to what extent or how they can cover criticism of the government’s expropriation policies.

Similarly, since the arrest and criminal prosecution of Oswaldo Álvarez Paz, reporters ask Globovisión’s lawyers “all the time” how they should cover news about drug trafficking in Venezuela.[303] Additionally, two veteran reporters at the station told Human Rights Watch that self-censorship is common. They are “more careful” when deciding which images to show while reporting. “The caution is excessive,” said one. “When in doubt, we censor ourselves.”[304]

The problem of self-censorship is even more acute among radio broadcasters. According to Nelson Belfort, president of the Chamber of Radio Stations between 2007 and 2011, the majority of private radio broadcasters in the country have replaced opinion shows with music or entertainment since the 2009 closure of 32 stations.[305] The nongovernmental organization PROVEA documented in its 2011 annual report that “more and more media impose self-censorship, and fewer maintain critical positions regarding government actions, [changes in] behavior motivated by desire to avoid temporary or permanent closure and millions of dollars in fines.”[306] Silvia Alegrett, executive director of the National College of Journalists (Colegio Nacional de Periodistas), which represents 19,000 Venezuelan journalists, also noted that there are increasing levels of self-censorship among journalists.[307]

Unai Amenabar, a journalist who worked for 17 years in Venevisión until 2011, and who continues to work at Unión Radio, said in an interview to a Spanish paper that “independent media outlets are very scared, because they do not know when the government [will] decide to close a radio or TV station, and that leads to journalists thinking two, three, five times [about] what will be said, who will be interviewed, and how the interview will be conducted.” According to Amenabar, this generates “great levels of self-censorship.”[308]

Similarly, two other veteran radio journalists interviewed by Human Rights Watch also said the closures had led to an increase in self-censorship where they worked. One said that she was told by her station she could no longer “provide news information on anything that is uncomfortable for the government.” She left that radio station to work in another one where she could have more freedom, but said that, given the risks, “one is 1000 times more careful about what one says” and “one begins to censor oneself out of fear of being sanctioned.” For instance, when interviewing a doctor about President Chávez’s health, she specifically asked the doctor not to use the word “metastasis” for fear of suffering reprisals if she broadcast it.[309]

Two of the radio journalists interviewed by Human Rights Watch said that their station had told them not to read information from certain webpages or discuss certain topics on the air, and that they could not interview certain individuals who were known critics of the government.[310] One of them was instructed “on multiple occasions” to tone down statements and questions—instructions, she says, which force a journalist to rethink every question and avoid expressing her own views.[311]

Alegrett from the National College of Journalists told Human Rights Watch of a journalist colleague who had been instructed by the owner of a radio station where he worked that he should refrain from commenting on the news headlines he read because the radio was the owner’s sole income and he did not want it to be closed. Eventually the journalist was told he could not even read the news headlines.[312]

[155] The 2004 broadcasting law replaced broadcasting regulations enacted in 1984.

[156] Law on Social Responsibility in Radio, Television, and Electronic Media (Ley de Responsabilidad Social de Radio, Televisión y Medios Electrónicos), December 20, 2010, http://www.asambleanacional.gob.ve/images/leyes/se_reimprime_responsabilidad_social_radio_television.pdf (accessed May 30, 2012), art. 27.

[157] Ibid.

[158] Id., art. 29. The 2010 law also mandates the creation of a new administrative body—effectively controlled by the executive branch—to enforce these provisions, the Directorate of Social Responsibility (Directorio de Responsabilidad Social). The law grants the government majority representation on the 12-member directorate, with six representatives from government offices, and a seventh, the director of CONATEL, presiding. The directorate can hold sessions if the CONATEL director and five additional members are present, and decisions can be adopted through a simple majority vote. Id., art. 20.

[159] Id., art. 33.

[160]Organic Law on Telecommunications (Ley Orgánica de Telecomunicaciones), December 28, 2010, http://www.asambleanacional.gob.ve/images/leyes/reimprime_la_ley_de_telecomunicacion.pdf (accessed May 30, 2012), art. 22.

[161] During the early years of Chávez’s government, four private television channels—RCTV, Venevisión, Televen, and Globovisión—sided openly with the political opposition, providing uniformly partisan and anti-Chávez news coverage and commentary. During the short-lived 2002 coup, all four channels gave extensive coverage to the opposition protests, but then replaced news coverage with cartoons and old movies after Chávez had been taken by the military to an unknown destination and his supporters were filling the streets demanding his return. The news blackout of Chávez’s return to power was followed by highly partisan coverage during confrontations between the government and opposition in subsequent years. In 2005 two of the stations that had previously given full support to opposition campaigns, Venevisión and Televen, pulled controversial opinion shows and ceased to engage in overtly anti-Chávez commentary. Only RCTV and Globovisión retained their clearly critical editorial line. See Human Rights Watch, A Decade Under Chávez, chapter IV.

[162]In November 2006, one month before the December presidential election, Energy Minister and PDVSA President Rafael Ramírez gave a speech to PDVSA employees in which he told workers that those who did not support Chávez should leave the company. After the speech was aired on TV, rather than denouncing his energy minister’s overtly discriminatory message, President Chávez publicly endorsed it, urging its repetition “100 times.” Chávez added that PDVSA workers were part of his political project, and those who were not “should go somewhere else, go to Miami.” In that same speech, Chávez “reminded” TV stations that some broadcast concessions ended the following year, and stated “no one should be surprised if I tell them there will be no more concession for certain TV channels.” Chávez had previously accused private channels, which he did not identify, of “fomenting a psychological war between Venezuelans” in a speech given six months before he announced the decision not to renew RCTV’s license. “Rafael Ramírez Part 1” (Rafael Ramírez Parte 1), YouTube video, posted by “Libreuso,” November 3, 2006, http://youtube.com/watch?v=dmXpbT7Fhiw, (accessed May 22, 2012); “Chávez to Minister Ramírez: ‘Go and repeat what you said to Pdvsa a hundred times’” (Chávez al ministro Ramírez: ‘Vaya y repítale a PDVSA cien veces lo que usted ha dicho’), November 3, 2006, http://www.aporrea.org/oposicion/n86027.html (accessed May 11, 2012). (Vaya y repítale a PDVSAcien veces lo que usted ha dicho, Pdvsa es revolucionaria y debe ser revolucionaria (…). Los trabajadores de Petróleos de Venezuela están en esta revolución y el que no mejor que se vaya a otro sitio, que se vayan a Miami o a donde quieran ... El 27 de marzo no les extrañe que yo les diga no hay más concesión a algunos canales de televisión, que a nadie le extrañe.)

[163] “The concession of the coup plotting channel RCTV will not be renewed” (No renovarán la concesión al canal golpista RCTV), YouTube video, posted by “JairoMartinezdorta,” March 29, 2007, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AujQgo6u4xI (accessed April 18, 2012). (No habrá nueva concesión para ese canal golpista de televisión que se llamó Radio Caracas Televisión. Se acaba la concesión. Ya está redactada la medida. Así que vayan preparándose, apagando los equipos, pues. No se va a tolerar aquí ningún medio de comunicación que esté al servicio del golpismo, contra el pueblo, contra la nación, contra la independencia nacional, contra la dignidad de la República!)

[164] The Chávez government had been under no obligation to renew RCTV’s concession. However, as Human Rights Watch documented in A Decade Under Chávez, the president’s decision and the manner in which it was executed constituted a flagrant abuse of the state’s regulatory power to punish RCTV for its critical programming. The government discriminated against the channel on political grounds and disregarded basic due process considerations in its handling of the case. In March 2007, three months after Chávez announced his decision, the Ministry of Communication and Information published The White Book of RCTV (El libro blanco sobre RCTV), a compendium of the government’s accusations against the channel. During the same month RCTV received a resolution and cover letter from the communication and information minister—the official responsible for television concessions—formalizing Chávez’s decision. Yet neither the official resolution nor the letter mentioned any of the accusations publicly leveled by Chávez against the channel as grounds for the decision not to renew the license.

[165] See Human Rights Watch, A Decade Under Chávez, chapter IV.

[166] Official Gazette of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, No. 39.333, December 22, 2009.

http://www.conatel.gob.ve/files/Servicio_Produccion_Nacional_Audiovisual/Norma_Tec_Prod_Nacional_Audiovisual.pdf (accessed May 22, 2012), arts. 3, 5, 6.

[167] Diosdado Cabello press conference, aired by Venezolana de Television, YouTube video, posted by “radiovzla,” January 23, 2010, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPQ0nu2WC_I&feature=related (accessed May 22, 2012).

[168] Reporters Without Borders, “Venezuela: Five cable networks resume broadcasting, RCTVI still suspended” (Venezuela: Cinco canales por cable vuelven al aire, RCTVI sigue suspendido), February 4, 2010, http://www.rsf-es.org/news/venezuela-cinco-canales-por-cable-vuelven-al-aire-rctvi-sigue-suspendido/ (accessed May 22, 2012).

[169] CONATEL, Administrative Decision (Providencia Administrativa) No. PADSR – 1.599, February 9, 2010 (copy on file at Human Rights Watch); CONATEL, Administrative Decision (Providencia Administrativa) No. PADSR – 1.569, March 4, 2010,  http://www.conatel.gob.ve/files/Servicio_Produccion_Nacional_Audiovisual/nota_providencia.pdf (accessed May 23, 2012).

[170] CONATEL, Administrative Decision (Providencia Administrativa) No. PADSR – 1.569.

[171] CONATEL, Administrative Decision (Providencia Administrativa) No. PADSR – 1.599. Human Rights Watch interview with Oswaldo Quintana Cardona, Corporate Vice President for Legal Matters of RCTV, and Elías Bittar, counsel, Caracas, March 20, 2012.

[172] Human Rights Watch interview with Daniela Bergami, General Director of RCTV, Oswaldo Quintana Cardona, Corporate Vice President for Legal Matters of RCTV, and Elías Bittar, counsel, Caracas, February 7, 2011; Human Rights Watch interview with Oswaldo Quintana Cardona, Corporate Vice President for Legal Matters of RCTV, and Elías Bittar, counsel, Caracas, March 20, 2012.

[173] Letter from Joseph Saunders, deputy program director of Human Rights Watch, to Pedro Maldonado, director of CONATEL, February 28, 2012.

[174] CONATEL, Administrative Decision (Providencia Administrativa) No. PADSR – 1.569.

[175] Human Rights Watch interview with Oswaldo Quintana Cardona, Corporate Vice President for Legal Matters of RCTV, and Elías Bittar, counsel, Caracas, March 20, 2012.

[176] Ibid. Petition (demanda de nulidad) presented by RCTV's legal counsel before the Political Adminsitrative Chamber of the Supreme Court of Venezuela, April 17, 2007; Petition (demanda de nulidad) presented by RCTV's legal counsel before the Political Adminsitrative Chamber of the Supreme Court of Venezuela, January 28, 2010; Constitutional appeal (amparo constitucional) presented by RCTV's legal counsel before the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Venezuela, January 22, 2010. Copies on file at Human Rights Watch.

[177] Human Rights Watch interview with Daniela Bergami, General Director of RCTV, Oswaldo Quintana Cardona, Corporate Vice President for Legal Matters of RCTV, and Elías Bittar, counsel, Caracas, February 7, 2011; Human Rights Watch email communication with Elías Bittar, RCTV’s legal counsel, May 3, 2012.

[178] Directorate of Social Responsibility of CONATEL (Directorio de Responsabilidad Social de CONATEL), Document No. 163, October 18, 2011, http://issuu.com/globovision/docs/sancion_globovision_caso_el_rodeo (accessed May 23, 2012). (“Maritza Rodríguez (hora del operador 7:47 a.m. / hora original del sistema 7:37 a.m.): “ …a los muchachos los están masacrando…” (p. 2) “Jackeline Rojo, familiar de recluso de El Rodeo (hora original del sistema de monitoreo 09:11 a.m.) “…están golpeando a los reclusos…” (p. 4) “Rosmary Rubio, familiar de recluso (hora original del sistema de monitoreo 09:12 a.m.) “…ellos le metieron candela, a ellos los estaban quemando…” (p. 4).)

[179] At the time, local and international organizations criticized the goverment for the way it dealt with the prison riots. The IACHR granted “precautionary measures” to family members of those detained in the prisons, ordering the government to protect their lives and physical integrity, stating that they had received information that “security forces launched tear gas canisters and used water cannons against them, in a context of tension.” IACHR, “PM 219-11 - Relatives of Inmates at the El Rodeo I and El Rodeo II prisons, Venezuela,” undated, http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/decisions/precautionary.asp asp (accessed May 22, 2012).

COFAVIC issued a press release “energically rejecting the disproportionate use of force to control the internal situation in prisons in the country, particularly in El Rodeo I.” “Cofavic urges the state to guarantee the integrity of people deprived of their liberty in the El Rodeo Prison” (COFAVIC exhorta al Estado a garantizar la integridad de privados de libertad en Centro Penitenciario El Rodeo I), press release, June 17, 2011, http://www.cofavic.org/det_comunicados.php?id=44 (accessed May 23, 2012).

Other Venezuelan NGOs, including the Venezuelan Observatory of Prisons (Observatorio Venezolano de Prisiones) and A Window for Liberty (Una Ventana por la Libertad), also criticized the government for the measures it adopted during the incidents. “Report/Conflictove: What happened in El Rodeo” (Reporte/Conflictove: Lo que pasó en El Rodeo), June 20, 2011, http://www.derechos.org.ve/2011/06/20/reporteconflictove-lo-que-paso-en-el-rodeo/ (accessed May 23, 2012).

[180] “The owners of Globovisión are on the run” (Los dueños de Globovisión andan huyendo), Hugo Chávez's Blog, July 2, 2010, http://www.chavez.org.ve/temas/noticias/duenos-globovision-andan-huyendo/ (accessed May 23, 2012). (Permitir que un canal de televisión incendie un país es muy peligroso, no podemos permitirlo. ¿Hasta dónde es capaz de hacer daño a la mente de una sociedad un canal en manos de una locura desatada de odio, con la única intención de derrocar a este gobierno?)

[181] “CONATEL sanctions Globovisión for its coverage of the events in El Rodeo I and II (CONATEL sanciona a Globovisión por tratamiento informativo en hechos de El Rodeo I y II), Correo del Orinoco, October 18, 2011, http://www.correodelorinoco.gob.ve/nacionales/conatel-sanciona-a-globovision-por-tratamiento-informativo-hechos-rodeo-i-y-ii/ (accessed May 23, 2012); Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Ricardo Antela, Globovisión’s lawyer, October 2011.

[182] CONATEL, Administrative Decision (Providencia Administrativa) No. PADSR-1839, June 30, 2011. (En el programa Aló Presidente... fue difundido un micro... cuyo cintillo inferior central de la pantalla es del texto siguiente: “Situación penitenciaria en El Rodeo I y II”, en el que inicialmente sólo se transmiten imágenes editadas, sin audio original, sino con una musicalización de fondo similar a las usadas en los documentales de guerra, mostrando las imágenes que se describen a continuación: 1. A los efectivos de la Guardia Nacional, vestidos con su uniforme antimotín, realizando acercamientos a las bombas lacrimógenas, ubicadas en el pecho de tales funcionarios; 2. El vehículo “ballena” perteneciente a este Cuerpo de Seguridad, cuando lanzaba chorros de agua para dispersar a los manifestantes; 3. Helicóptero artillado sobrevolando el área; 4. Grupos de personas refugiándose por los efectos de las bombas lacrimógenas y otras personas corriendo.)

[183] Directorate of Social Responsibility of CONATEL, Document No. 163, p. 95; “CONATEL sanctions Globovisión for coverage of the events in El Rodeo I and II,” Correo del Orinoco, October 18, 2011.

[184] Directorate of Social Responsibility of CONATEL, Document No. 163, p. 95. ([E]n virtud de haber transmitido mensajes que promovieron alteraciones del orden público, hicieron apología al delito, e incitaron al ordenamiento jurídico vigente, promovieron el odio pro razones políticas y fomentaron la zozobra en la ciudadanía.)

[185] Ibid., pp. 91 - 93. (La difusión reiterada de declaraciones de un grupo de sólo 18 presuntos familiares de los internos de una población total que alcanza un aproximado de 4000 reclusos, repetidas doscientas sesenta y nueve (269) veces, en sólo cuatro (4) días, las cuales una vez verificadas se observó que éstas son las más emotivas, cargadas de sentimientos y expresiones de desesperación….se incluía un “micro de imágenes editadas impactantes…con lo que se mostraba falsamente una situación continua de alteración…La incorporaron en todos sus programas de comentarios sobre el caso del Rodeo, insinuando o aseverando la falta de pronunciamiento de las autoridades…. El hecho que los periodistas “in situ” y “anclas” del canal informaban incorrectamente sobre una total inexistencia de información suministrada por las autoridades… En contraposición con lo expuesto, sólo en una ocasión se transmitieron las imágenes de la llegada de la Guardia Nacional a la pasarela, del sector La Rosa en las cercanías del Centro Penitenciario, durante el cual les tiran piedras desde las casas aledañas, lo cual no fue reseñado por el canal.)

“Venezuela: Globovisión fined US $2.1 milion,” (Venezuela: multa a Globovisión de US $2.1 millones), BBC Mundo, October 18, 2011, http://www.bbc.co.uk/mundo/ultimas_noticias/2011/10/111018_ulnot_venezuela_globovision_multa.shtml(accessed May 23, 2012).

[186] Supreme Court of Justice of Venezuela, File No. 2012-0051, March 6, 2012, http://www.tsj.gov.ve/decisiones/spa/Marzo/00165-6312-2012-2012-0051.html (accessed May 23, 2012); Supreme Court of Justice of Venezuela, “Supreme Court ratifies that Globovisión’s request to suspend the effects [of challenged measure] does not proceed” (TSJ ratifica improcedencia de medida de suspensión de efectos solicitada por Globovisión), press release, March 15, 2012, http://www.tsj.gov.ve/informacion/notasdeprensa/notasdeprensa.asp?codigo=9218 (accessed May 23, 2012); “Administrative procedures initiated against Globovisión” (Procedimientos administrativos iniciados contra Globovisión), April 2, 2012, summary of cases provided to Human Rights Watch via email by Ricardo Antela, Globovisión’s lawyer, April 4, 2012. Copy on file at Human Rights Watch.

[187] “CONATEL presents judicial action to force Globovisión to pay fine” (CONATEL interpone acción judicial para exigir a Globovisión pago de multa), Agencia Venezolana de Noticias, March 27, 2012, http://www.avn.info.ve/node/105340(accessed May 23, 2012).

[188] Supreme Court of Justice of Venezuela, File No. 2012-0104, June 28, 2012, http://www.tsj.gov.ve/decisiones/spa/Junio/00765-28612-2012-2012-0104.html (accessed July 2, 2012). "Globovisión pays and questions fine before Supreme Court" (Globovisión pagó bajo protesta la multa ante el TSJ), Globovisión, June 30, 2012, http://www.globovision.com/news.php?nid=237019 (accessed July 2, 2012).

[189] Human Rights Watch written communication with Ricardo Antela, Globovisión’s lawyer, October 19, 2011. (Un canal pequeño y con las características de Globovision no tiene disponible esa suma de dinero, y tendremos que hacer un esfuerzo económico supremo y considerable para pagarla y mantener abierto el canal. La multa trastorna la estabilidad financiera del canal y complica seriamente su viabilidad operativa y financiera.)

[190] Broadcasting Law, art. 29.

[191] “Conatel opens procedure against Globovisión for disseminating [information on] an earthquake” (CONATEL abre procedimiento sancionatorio contra Globovisión por divulgación de sismo), Globovisión, May 7, 2009, http://www.globovision.com/news.php?nid=116427 (accessed May 23, 2012).

[192] CONATEL, Administrative Decision (Providencia Administrativa) No. PADSR-1412, May 7, 2009. (La gente salió a la calle, no han habido más réplicas, todo está tranquilo, todo está en paz. Nos angustia mucho que no encontramos a quién localizar, no encontramos a ninguna autoridad a quien pedirle una información precisa, exacta.)

[193] National Assembly, “CONATEL is urged to apply the broadcasting law to Globovisión” (Exhortan a CONATEL aplicar Ley Resorte a Globovisión), undated, http://www.asambleanacional.gob.ve/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=21859&Itemid=63 (accessed May 24). ([T]enía que adelantarse para acusar al gobierno de irresponsable, y generar terror en la población.)

[194] Ibid.

[195]CONATEL, Administrative Decision (Providencia Administrativa) No. PADSR-1423, May 7, 2009. (Visto que desde la madrugada del lunes 04 de mayo de 2009 y durante todo el día la sociedad mercantil Globovisión difundió de manera continua y reiterada durante toda su programación mensajes alusivos al sismo que se registró en Venezuela en esa misma fecha y que dichos mensajes podrían generar una sensación de zozobra y temor en la población, de manera injustificada. Visto que de la transcripción anterior se observa que la sociedad mercantil Globovisión difundió en su programación mensajes que presuntamente pudieren ser contrarios a la seguridad de la nación y presuntamente promover, hacer apología o incitar alteraciones del orden público...)

[196]CONATEL, Administrative (Providencia Administrativa) No. PADSR-1309, November 27, 2008. (Carabobo sabe exactamente que ocurrió el día de hoy. El Consejo Nacional Electoral tiene en sus manos el 97,75% de las actas. Tengo en mi poder todas las actas del Estado Carabobo que claramente dicen que Enrique Fernando Salas es el nuevo gobernador del Estado Carabobo. Tengo también en mi poder tres encuestas de salida, en donde señala que la distancia fue inmensa, y por eso he estado siendo respetuoso del Consejo Nacional Electoral, porque quiero guardar siempre, siempre quiero guardar el respeto las normas, el respeto a la ley. Pero lo que nunca el pueblo carabobeño, y tampoco el pueblo venezolano va a escuchar de mi parte es aceptar una sinverguencería en donde no hay ningún motivo para retrasar el anuncio a toda Venezuela del triunfo rotundo que hemos obtenido el día de hoy. Por esa razón yo no puedo aceptar más, yo les dije a ustedes, a perro macho lo capan una vez, y de aquí de Carabobo queremos exigir resultados al Consejo Nacional Electoral de inmediato, pero como siguen retrasando el proceso, yo le quiero pedir a todo el pueblo carabobeño, a todos ustedes que me acompañan, para que nos vayamos a la Junta Electoral a reclamar el triunfo de Carabobo. (...) Aquí lo que está en juego no es nada contra nadie. Queremos simplemente que se respete la voluntad popular. Ya los medios de comunicación de diferentes televisoras, radios, han señalado claramente que el triunfo se ha consolidado en Carabobo. Lo único que le pedimos al Consejo Nacional Electoral es que de el boletín definitivo, porque nopuede ser que mantengan a esta región sin un resultado, el cual todo el mundo lo sabe.)

[197] According to CONATEL, since Salas Feo had “invited the people to mobilize and together request that [the National Electoral Council] provide [election results]… it is possible to presume that this citizen’s statements could incite an alteration of public order.” CONATEL, Administrative Decision (Providencia Administrativa), No. PADSR-1309, November 27, 2008..(De las referidas declaraciones se desprende que el ciudadano Enrique Salas Feo se consideraba ganador de las elecciones regionales efectuadas el pasado 23 de noviembre de 2008, para ejercer el cargo de Gobernador del Estado de Carabobo y en vista de que el Consejo Nacional Electoral no lo había declarado como tal invitó al colectivo a movilizarse y juntos exigir de ese cuerpo colegiado electoral el pronunciamiento anteriormente señalado. De este modo, es factible presumir que las declaraciones del ciudadano pudiese existir una presunta incitación a alteración del orden público, en los términos anteriormente planteados.)

[198]CONATEL opens administrative procedure against Globovisión for inciting violence (CONATEL abre procedimiento administrativo contra Globovisión por incitación a la violencia), Agencia Bolivariana de Noticias, November 27, 2008, http://www.aporrea.org/medios/n124749.html (accessed May 23, 2012); Ministry of the Popular Power for Communication and Information, Globovisión seals its destiny by practicing again media terrorism (Globovisión sentencia su destino al reincidir en la práctica del terrorismo mediático), press release, December 5, 2008, http://minci.gob.ve/noticias/1/186744 (accessed May 23, 2012). (Pasan en vivo desde el estado Carabobo un mitin que estaba pronunciando el gobernador electo Salas Feo. Pronuncia un discurso en el cual promueve e incita a la población a que vaya a tomar la junta regional del estado Carabobo para reclamar su triunfo.)

[199] On October 13, 2008, Rafael Poleo, the host of “Aló Ciudadano,” compared Chávez to Mussolini, and stated that their trajectories were “the same,” that “Hugo will end up like Mussolini, hanging with his head facing downwards,” and that “Chávez will fall.” On October 15, Andrés Izarra, the communications minister, stated that Poleo had “asked for an assasination” and called on CONATEL to act. The following day, CONATEL opened an administrative investigation, accusing Globovisión of broadcasting messages that could “promote, vindicate, or incite the commission of crimes” or “alterations of public order.” CONATEL, Administrative Decision (Providencia Administrativa) No. PADSR - 1289, October 16, 2008. IACHR, “Democracy and Human Rights in Venezuela,” paras. 420-422. Copy on file at Human Rights Watch. (Visto que en la transmisión del programa de opinión “Aló ciudadano”, de fecha 13 de octubre de 2008, el ciudadano Rafael David Poleo Isava, expresó a través de sus declaraciones, mensajes que pudiesen promover, hacer apología o incitar al delito; promover, hacer apología o incitar a alteraciones del orden público, y pueden ser contrarios a la seguridad de la nación, en los siguientes términos: “…Tu sigues la trayectoria de Benito Mussolini y la trayectoria de Chávez y es igualita, por eso yo digo, con preocupación que Hugo va a terminar como Mussolini, colgado con la cabeza pa ‘bajo…. Chávez va a caer…”)

[200] CONATEL, Administrative Decision (Providencia Administrativa) No. PADSR - 1427, July 2, 2009. Copy on file at Human Rights Watch. See description of Supreme Court ruling “Upholding Prior Censorship” for additional information on this case.

[201] According to information provided by Globovisión's lawyers to Human Rights Watch, CONATEL listed a series of shows in which Globovisión issued messages that could constitute crimes and stated that prosecutors were conducting criminal investigations but provided no information regarding which statements were problematic or which crimes were allegedly committed. “Summary of Globovisión cases (trials and procedures)” (Resumen Caso Globovisión (juicios y procedimientos), written report provided to Human Rights Watch by Margarita Escudero, Globovisión's lawyer, May 25, 2010.

CONATEL’s resolution suspends the administrative process until prosecutors finalize their investigations. Globovisión’s lawyer told Human Rights Watch that they have no information as to what precisely was said in those shows that could constitute a crime, and that they were never formally notified of any criminal investigation against the channel. Once the process is resumed, CONATEL could revoke Globovisión’s license. CONATEL cites article 171 of the Organic Telecommunications Law, which establishes that it may revoke the license of a TV station that “collaborates with the commission of crimes.” Article 172 states that if the license is revoked, the station would be prohibited from obtaining another one for five years. Human Rights Watch interview with Ana Cristina Nuñez, Globovisión’s lawyer at the time, Caracas, February 7, 2011.

[202] On September 4, 2009, CONATEL opened an administrative investigation against Globovisión, arguing that a series of text messages aired during its “Good Night” show “could be inciting [people] to disregard institutions, carry out a coup d’etat and generate alterations of the public order, allegedly affecting the security of the Nation.” One message, for example, stated, “Urgent. Activate networks of information, possible coup d’etat… Beware on Friday morning. Pass it along.” Another message read, “It is necessary to go out and march and not to abandon the streets, whatever happens, and the coup against the tyrant will finally explode.” In another one, the viewer urged the show to “inform about the said coup which will happen tomorrow morning.” CONATEL argued that since the messages were transmitted at a time in which demonstrations were being organized, they “could be generating a climate of tension and fear in the population through messages that implicitly and explicitly allegedly refer to acts of violence and a coup d’etat in the country.” According to CONATEL, these messages could violate the broadcasting statute, which forbids airing messages that “generate an incentive not to comply with existing laws” or “promote, vindicate or incite the commission of crimes… , alterations of public order, or could run counter national security.” CONATEL, Administrative Decision (Providencia Administrativa) No. PADSR-1477, September 4, 2009. Copy on file at Human Rights Watch. (Urgente. Activar redes de información, posible golpe de Estado… Ojo viernes a primeras horas de la madrugada. Pasalo. (U0437). Hay que salir y marchar y no abandonar la calle, pase lo que pase y que reviente de una vez el golpe al tirano…. Buenas noches informen sobre el dicho golpe que va a hacer mañana en la madrugada. Luo a (U97747-6)…. La difusión de mensajes por parte de los prestadores de servicio de televisión…se encuentran sancionados [cuando] ...Difunda mensajes que inciten al incumplimiento del ordenamiento jurídico vigente. Del mismo modo, la difusión de mensajes que promuevan, hagan apología o inciten al delito, promuevan, hagan apología o inciten a alteraciones del orden público, y puedan ser contrarios a la seguridad de la nación, se encuentran sancionados …. Ahora bien, si se analiza a la luz de los artículos precedentemente transcritos, la conducta desplegada por GLOBOVISIÓN y BUENAS NOCHES, al difundir mensajes que como los referidos…se puede observar que la misma podría infringir lo dispuesto en la Ley de Responsabilidad Social en Radio y Televisión, toda vez que los referidos mensajes podrían estar incitando al desconocimiento de las instituciones, a la realización de un golpe de estado y a la generación de alteraciones del orden público, atentado presuntamente contra la seguridad de la nación. Cabe destacar que los mensajes se transmitieron en un contexto en el cual se promuevan manifestaciones públicas, con lo cual se podría estar generando un clima de tensión y zozobra en la colectividad, a través de mensajes implícitos y explícitos que presuntamente aluden a actos de violencia y a la realización de un golpe de Estado en el país…..)

[203] Letter from Joseph Saunders, deputy program director of Human Rights Watch, to Pedro Maldonado, director of CONATEL, February 28, 2012.

[204] Prosecutor’s Office of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (Ministerio Público de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela), accusation by María del Carmen Fuentes G, Prosecutor 72 of the Prosecutor’s Office in the Metropolitan Area of Caracas, and Andrés Pérez Amundaraim, Prosecutor 19 (A), March 25, 2010. Copy on file at Human Rights Watch. (No se puede hablar de libertad de expresión de verdad cuando un gobierno utiliza sus fuerzas para reprimir medios, para cerrar medios como Radio Caracas Televisión después de 53 años en el aire la cierran, eso no es libertad de expresión, no se puede hablar de libertad de expresión cuando hay más de dos mil cadenas, algo así que suman más de 60 días continuos que un Presidente de la República utilizando la fuerza que tiene y la autoridad que tiene para manipular la opinión pública y para tratar de imponer una manera de pensar...).

[205] Ibid. (Una manifestación humana, como pocas veces ha habido, que se calcula que pasaba el millón de personas a la cual el Presidente le mandó a disparar, echar plomo y terminó esa noche con el Genereal en Jefe, primera vez que hay un General en Jefe en los últimos 50 años nombrado por el Presidente Chávez, él que declaró públicamente que le habían pedido la renuncia al Presidente Chávez el cual él había aceptado, que después hayan pasado una serie de circunstancias que hizo que él volviera es otra cosa de victoria. El Doctor Granier ni yo tampoco firmamos ese decreto el cual hace alusión y donde estamos nosotros en contra de la forma que se realizó aquel momento porque si se hubiese hecho bien tuviéramos una Venezuela distinta.)

[206] National Assembly, “Accord to reject statements by Guillermo Zuloaga, shareholder of Globovisión, before the Inter-American Press Association” (Acuerdo en Rechazo a las Declaraciones del Ciudadano Guillermo Zuloaga, accionista de Globovisión ante la Sociedad Interamericana de Prensa (SIP)), March 23, 2010. The accord is signed by Cilia Flores, president of the National Assembly, and four others. Copy on file at Human Rights Watch. (Exhortar al Ministerio Público para que realice todas las investigaciones y actuaciones pertinentes con la finalidad de determinar las responsabilidades penales, de conformidad con el ordenamiento jurídico vigente, al ciudadano Guillermo Zuloaga, por reiterar una serie de falsas acusaciones en contra del Gobierno Constitucional y democrático del ciudadano Presidente de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela, Hugo Chávez Frías, ante la Sociedad Interamericana de Prensa (SIP).)

[207]Prosecutor’s Office of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (Ministerio Público de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela), Document No. 01-772-126-10, March 24, 2010; Prosecutor’s Office of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (Ministerio Público de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela), accusation by María del Carmen Fuentes G, Prosecutor 72 of the Prosecutor’s Office in the Metropolitan Area of Caracas, and Andrés Pérez Amundaraim, Prosecutor 19 (A), March 25, 2010; 40th First Instance Court of the Criminal Circuit of the Metropolitan Area of Caracas (Juzgado Cuadragésimo de Primera Instancia en Funciones de Control del Circuito Judicial Penal del Area Metropolitana de Caracas), decision by Jesús Alberto Villarroel Cortez on Case No. 40-S-663-10, March 25, 2010. Copies on file at Human Rights Watch. (Se evidencia que se ha cometido los delitos de Informaciones falsas y ofensas a los Jefes de Gobierno.)

Criminal Code, art. 296-A: “Anyone who, through false information disseminated via any media outlet including written press, radio, television, telephone, email or pamphlets, causes panic in the collectivity or causes fear, will be sanctioned with prison sentences of two to five years...”

Criminal Code, art. 147: “Anyone who, orally or in writing, or through any other means, offends the President of the Republic or the person who is exercising that position, will be sanctioned with prison sentences of six to 30 months if the offense were serious, or half of that if it were minor. The sentence will be tripled if the offense were public.”

[208] Decision by Judge Jesús Alberto Villarroel Cortez, Case 40-C-S-663-10, March 26, 2010. Copy on file at Human Rights Watch. Human Rights Watch email communication with Ana Cristina Nuñez, Globovisión's lawyer, March 25, 2010; Human Rights Watch interview with Perla Jaimes, Guillermo Zuloaga’s lawyer, Caracas, September 1, 2011.

[209]“Chávez recently questioned that Globovisión’s president is free” (Chávez cuestionó recientemente que el presidente de Globovisión esté en libertad), video, June 23, 2010, http://www.globovision.com/news.php?nid=151789 (accessed February 14, 2012). (Él por cierto me acusó por ahí en un foro internacional hace poco de que yo había mandado a matar a la gente del 11 de abril. Y anda libre, ¿ves? Eso solo ocurre aquí, en Venezuela. Que vaya Zuloaga a cualquier país a decir: “No, que el presidente de aquí mandó a matar a una gente”. ¿A ver que le pasa? Lo agarran de inmediato, preso. Solo aquí todavía tenemos una debilidad estructural, ¿eh?, en el sistema del Estado, que todavía eso es posible en Venezuela. Que alguien acuse a otro. No, porque no se trata del presidente, no. No. Cualquiera. Cualquier persona, mire, que salga por ahí diciendo: “Yo acuso a Barroso, que él mandó a matar y mató a tal persona”. Barroso no puede quedarse… Bueno, me están acusando de asesino. Tengo derecho a actuar legalmente. Yo en este caso no lo hago porque soy presidente. Otra cosa sería si no fuera el presidente. Yo no voy a querellarme contra un burgués, no. Pero hay un sistema, pues. Un sistema que debería poner las cosas en su lugar. Debería, ¿eh? Y por ahí a ese señor se le agarró en su casa un bojote de carros. Eso es un  delito. Acaparamiento. Y anda suelto, y tiene un canal de televisión.)

“Guillermo Zuloaga Case, President of Globovisión. New arrest warrant. Attack against Freedom of Expression in Venezuela” (Caso Guillermo Zuloaga, Presidente de Globovisión. Nueva orden de captura. Ataque contra la Libertad de Expresión), Globovisión urgent communication, June 12, 2010; Public Ministry of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (Ministerio Público de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela), Citation (Boleta de Citación), May 28, 2009; Letter to Guillermo Zuloaga from Daniel Jesús Medina Sarmiento, 76th prosecutor of the public ministry at the national level to investigate cases of corruption, banks, and capital markets (Fiscal Septuagésimo Tercero del Ministerio Público a Nivel Nacional con Competencia en Materia Contra Corrupción, Bancos, Seguros y Mercado de Capitales), July 14, 2009. Copies on file at Human Rights Watch.

[210] Human Rights Watch interview with Ana Cristina Nuñez, Globovisión’s lawyer at the time, Caracas, February 7, 2011; Human Rights Watch interview with Ricardo Antela, Globovisión’s lawyer, Caracas, September 1, 2011.

[211] By the end of the month, prosecutors had formally charged Zuloaga and his son with “generic usury” (usura genérica) and conspiracy (agavillamiento) in the case related to their car sales business. 13th Court of Control of the First Criminal Court of the Metropolitan Area of Caracas (Juzgado Décimo Tercero en Funciones de Control del Tribunal de Primera Instancia en lo Penal de la Circunscripción Judicial del Área Metropolitana de Caracas), Notice (Boleta de Notificación), June 11, 2010.

[212] Human Rights Watch interview with Ana Cristina Nuñez, Globovisión’s lawyer at the time, Caracas, February 7, 2011;  “Guillermo Zuloaga Case, President of Globovisión. New arrest warrant. Attack against Freedom of Expression in Venezuela;” Documentation presented by Perla Janice Jaimes Jorge, Jenny Ambasco Soto and Osmil Thamara Salas, Zuloaga’s lawyers, before the Supreme Court of Justice of Venezuela, July 21, 2010. Copies on file at Human Rights Watch.

[213] Mezerhane Gosen, “The Political and Judicial Persecution of Nelson Mezerhane Gosen, Globovisión, and the Federal Bank – File 961” (La Persecución Política y Judicial de Nelson Mezerhane Gosen, Globovisión y el Banco Federal – El Expediente 961,” http://www.urru.org/papers/DDHH/DDHH_2010_varios/CIDH_expediente961_NMezerhane.pdf (accessed May 23, 2012), pp. 7-8; “The Federal Bank resisted the minicrisis in superb fashion” (El Banco Federal resistió la minicrisis de manera estupenda), El Mundo, Economía y Negocios, December 17, 2009, http://www.entornointeligente.com/resumen/resumen.php?items=994937 (accessed May 23, 2012). (No puedo decir que es el gobierno. Hay personas que están vinculadas que han hecho su trabajo. Hay laboratorios activos que han creado rumores y los bancos son casas de confianza. En la medida que te empiezan a crear rumores es comprensible que la gente diga "aquí está pasando esto" y "a aquél otro banco le pasó", entonces "a mi me puede pasar". Es una cosa por demás natural. (...) El Banco Central y los ministros de la Economía que han trabjado el tema lo han hecho con mucha seriedad. Creo que están viendo el problema del comportamiento de todo el sistema con bastante agudeza, con mucha preocupación, para que no se contaminen las cosas, pero esos laboratorios sucios y personajes que siembran odio y malestar por intereses o razones desconocidas crean problemas, sin duda que los crean.)

[214] “Chávez: Mandatory broadcast December 2, 2009, Banking Crisis” (Chávez: Cadena nacional 02/12/2009 Crisis Bancaria), YouTube video, posted by "Politemario,” December 3, 2009, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b29j3ffHJ8s (accessed May 23, 2012).

[215] “Chávez to Mezerhane” (Chávez a Mezerhane), YouTube video, posted by “Noticias24venez,” December 19, 2009, http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=3NzzmVGtqIs (accessed May 23, 2012). (Yo voy a llamar a la Fiscal más tarde para pedirle que ella abra un proceso de investigación en torno a estas declaraciones. Yo las considero sumamente graves, irresponsables, y sobre todo que vienen de boca del presidente de un banco, que ha tenido problemas graves, por cierto. Ha tenido problemas graves y aquí se acabó el tiempo aquél en que venían instituciones públicas a auxiliar bancos privados como el Federal.)

[216] “Chávez to Globovisión” (Chávez a Globovisión), YouTube video posted by “Noticias24venez,” December 21, 2009, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QB7N_ii5oQs (accessed June 15, 2012). ([N]o se pueden permitir esos excesos. En un país serio no puede permitirse eso. (...) Uno de los puntos claves [es que hay] una oposición que está secuestrada por uno o dos medios de comunicación pero que tienen mucho poder. Uno de esos canales por cierto, propiedad de uno de estos banqueros, de este banquero que salió diciendo lo que dijo, y que tendrá que aclararlo ante los órganos competentes. Pero yo no puedo permitir que siga habiendo banqueros en Venezuela, Eh? Si se va a meter a político, que se meta a político y entonces el Banco demelo pa’ ca, bueno, pa'l Estado pues señor, y usted vaya pa' la política. Yo no lo voy a permitir. Y lo mismo pasa con los medios de comunicación. Televisora que vuelva a pasar la raya a la violación de las leyes, al irrespeto a la sociedad, al Estado, a las instituciones, no puede, no debe seguir abierta. No puede, no podemos permitirlo, una locura. Porque lo que ellos quieren es incendiar la pradera. Yo llamo a todos los entes correspondientes a que actúen.)

[217] Attorney Generals Office, “Public Ministry opens investigation for alleged financial destabilization” (Ministerio Público inicia investigación por presunta desestabilización financiera), press release, December 21, 2009, http://www.aporrea.org/contraloria/n147542.html (accessed May 23, 2012); “An investigation is opened for allegedly destabilizing the financial system” (Inician investigación por presunta desestabilización financiera), Radio Nacional de Venezuela, December 22, 2009, http://www.rnv.gob.ve/noticias/index.php?act=ST&f=27&t=115982&hl=&s=3df816c14f5ea07ae522a282155f2f45 (accessed May 23, 2012). 

[218] Human Rights Watch interview with Magaly Vázquez, Nelson Mezerhane’s lawyer, Caracas, August 31, 2011; Juan Reardon, “Attorney General Accuses INTERPOL of ‘Meddling’ in Venezuelan Internal Affairs,” February 25, 2011, Venezuelanalysis.com, http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/6027 (accessed May 23, 2012).

[219] Human Rights Watch written communication with Magaly Vásquez, Nelson Mezerhane’s lawyer, May 6, 2012.

[220] “Prosecutors ask for arrest warrant against Nelson Mezerhane” (Fiscalía solicitó orden de aprehensión contra Nelson Mezerhane), Agencia Venezolana de Noticias, July 1, 2010, http://www.avn.info.ve/contenido/fiscal%C3%ADa-solicit%C3%B3-orden-aprehensi%C3%B3n-contra-nelson-mezerhane  (accessed May 23, 2012); Supreme Court of Justice of Venezuela, File No. 2010-269, August 26, 2010, http://www.tsj.gov.ve/decisiones/scp/agosto/396-26810-2010-e10-269.html (accessed May 23, 2012).

[221] “Chávez: We cannot allow a TV channel to turn the country on fire” (Chávez: no podemos permitir que un canal de televisión incendie el país), Agencia Venezolana de Noticias, July 2, 2010, http://www.avn.info.ve/node/3102?guicktabs_5=2 (accessed May 23, 2012). (Los que están al frente de Globovisión, cumpliendo instrucciones de sus dueños prófugos, están tratando de desestabilizar al país, pero no lo vamos a permitir, acúsenme de lo que me acusen (...) nosotros estamos obligados a hacer cumplir las leyes, dijo Chávez. Chávez recordó que de las más de 200 empresas de las que es dueño Nelson Mezerhane, muchas son sólo de maletín, pero “hay otras que sí tienen activos, como Globovisión; yo voy a esperar un tiempito a ver si aparecen los dueños de Globovisión, hay que esperar a ver si aparecen, porque andan huyendo. Habrá que pensar qué va a pasar con ese canal.)

[222]Globovisión’s board will have a government representative, 48.5% will be state-owned” (Globovisión tendrá un representante del Gobierno, 48.5% será del Estado), YouTube video, posted by “silveratto,” July 20, 2010, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWp2PQ6iKUQ (accessed May 23, 2012). (Ahora tenemos nosotros 25.8% de las acciones y eso da derecho al que la tenga, a nombrar un representante en la Junta Directiva.)

[223] Supreme Court of Justice of Venezuela, File No. 2010-269, August 26, 2010, http://www.tsj.gov.ve/decisiones/scp/agosto/396-26810-2010-e10-269.html (accessed May 23, 2012).

[224] Juan Reardon, “Attorney General Accuses INTERPOL of ‘Meddling’ in Venezuelan Internal Affairs.”

[225]“Hello Citizen (Aló Ciudadano), transcript, March 8, 2010. Copy on file at Human Rights Watch. (Hasta en dos ocasiones se ha referido Zapatero a las acusaciones del líder de Mariano Rajoy de dejar a la deriva al juez Eloy Velazco después que este emitiese un auto en el que veía indicios de colaboración entre ETA y las FARC y el gobierno venezolano. Exijo respeto para las instituciones judiciales y también para el ex Presidente del Gobierno José María Aznar, contra lo que cargó el Ministro Venezolano de Exteriores Nicolás Maduro. No considero razonables las críticas del juez Velazco por parte del Ministro de Exteriores venezolano ha sostenido Zapatero, quien ha anunciado que pedirá la colaboración del gobierno de Caracas que ha desmentido su relación con ETA y expresado su condena a los actos terroristas.)

[226]Ibid. (El hecho cierto es que le guste al gobierno venezolano o no, hay tres temas por los cuales la comunidad internacional tiene los ojos puestos sobre Venezuela, que son el tema del terrorismo y el ejemplo pues lo pongo por la investigación, el auto de proceder de la audiencia española, que le da el soporte jurídico y procesal a muchas viejas sospechas y a nuevas convicciones de que algo muy serio está pasando en cuanto a las relaciones del régimen venezolano, no solamente con la ETA, con las FARC, con otros movimientos subversivos y terroristas del mundo y del planeta, que en este caso específico la Audiencia Nacional de España ha concretado jurídica y procesalmente en el caso de ETA, FARC, con colaboración del gobierno venezolano.)

[227] Id. ([S]i yo fuera Chávez, si yo estuviera en el gobierno y me veo en esta coyuntura, le daría toda la cooperación del mundo, caiga quien caiga, lo que pasa es que cuando uno dice caiga quien caiga, el que puede caer es el propio Jefe del Estado ¿no?).

[228]Id. ([Y]o cada día reafirmo más mi convicción de que el actual Presidente de la República de Venezuela no es un demócrata, es un hombre de personalidad subversiva, de espíritu subversivo que no es capaz de entender las normas más elementales de la vida ciudadana y de la convivencia internacional, ni siquiera aquellas que sin estar escritas, se derivan del sentido común y de los intereses pues del pueblo que él tiene la obligación de bien representar.)

[229]Id. (Venezuela se ha convertido en un centro de operaciones que facilita las actividades del narcotráfico, es más, yo cada día me convenzo de que detrás de la confiscación que le hicieron a los gobernadores y a los alcaldes, de todos los puertos y aeropuertos comerciales de Venezuela, está la mano del narcotráfico metida, porque no les interesa que haya ojos observadores que podrían controlar, neutralizar o denunciar a esas estructuras que ahora operan con absoluta libertad.)

[230] “Chávez: It is necessary to act against Noticiero Digital (and Globovisión)” (Chávez: Hay que actuar contra Noticiero Digital (y Globovisión)), YouTube video, posted by “cadsvm,” March 13, 2010, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3f0kCyUZhHI&NR=1 (accessed May 24, 2012). (Eso es muy grave, eso no se puede permitir! Bueno, yo no puedo meter preso a nadie, ahí están los poderes del Estado que tienen que actuar, y el pueblo mismo que tiene que actuar! Tiene que actuar! Porque ya basta. Miren, no es por mí, no, no, en este caso es por la Fuerza Armada. Porque sea quien sea él que lo diga, él debe, debe presentar las pruebas, verdad, de lo que está diciendo. Una cosa temeraria como esa. Bueno, yo espero que actúen los órganos correspondientes de los poderes del Estado, ahora, tanto el que lo dice como el que lo deja decir y desarrollar. Porque ellos saben que están cometiendo un delito, que es penado con cárcel en cualquier parte del mundo!)

[232] Public Ministry of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, accusation by Gineira Jakima Rodríguez Urbina, public prosecutor, on Case F21NN-008-2010, March 22, 2010. Copy on file at Human Rights Watch.

Criminal Code, art. 132: “Anyone who conspires to destroy the Republican government of the nation will be sanctioned with prison sentences of eight to sixteen years...”

Criminal Code, art. 285: “Anyone who incites [others to] disobey the law or hatred among its inhabitants or vindication of acts that the law considers crimes, placing public tranquility at risk, will be sanctioned with prison sentences of three to six years.”

Criminal Code, art. 296-A: “Anyone who, through false information disseminated through any media outlet including written press, radio, television, telephone, email or pamphlets, causes panic in the collectivity or causes fear, will be sanctioned with prison sentences of two to five years.”

Under Venezuelan law, if someone is accused of a crime that could lead to a prison sentence of more than 10 years, the judge should presume that there is risk of flight. Code of Criminal Procedures, art. 251.

[233] According to the judge, Álvarez Paz's statements led to “incitement to disobey the laws and ... lack of respect for our institutions.... undermining them and consequently generating with his positions the possibility of failing to abide by the legal and constitutional requests of our government entities, which... puts public tranquility at risk.” Decision by Judge Rafael Osío, 25th First Instance Court in the Criminal Circuit of the Metropolitan Area of Caracas (Juzgado Vigésimo Quinto de Primera Instancia en Funciones de Control del Circuito Judicial Penal del Área Mtropolitana de Caracas), File 620-10, March 22, 2010. Copy on file at Human Rights Watch. ([E]l eco de este tipo de irresponsables e infundados comentarios propicia situaciones en el plano internacional que siempre pueden generar una puesta en peligro de la salud social colectiva, toda vez que utilizando el espacio televisivo Aló Ciudadano, transmitido por Globovisión (canal de televisión con cobertura en el territorio nacional) asumió la vocería y difusión de informaciones evidentemente falsas, capaces de causar zozobra o pánico colectivo, toda vez que las referencias, conceptos y deformadas informaciones transmitidas por este ciudadano al afirmar que nuestras instituciones gubernamentales y nuestros poderes públicos constituidos, son cómplices y operarios del narcotráfico internacional y el terrorismo, es tan grave e irresponsable que puede y efectivamente causa como puede evidenciarse un infundado temor en nuestro colectivo.)

[234] Accusation by Gineira Jakima Rodríguez Urbina, public prosecutor (Fiscal Vigésima Primera a Nivel Nacional con Competencia Plena), File N-FMP-F21NN-0264-2010, May 6, 2010;Decision by Judge Rafael Osio Tovar, File 25-620-10, May 13, 2010; Decision by Judge Jesus Orangel García, Judge Moraima Carolina Vargas J., and Judge Carmen Mireya Tellechea, File  237-10/Case S5-10-2704, July 21, 2010. Copies on file at Human Rights Watch. Human Rights Watch interview with Juan Carlos Álvarez Paz, son of Oswaldo Álvarez Paz and part of his defense team, Caracas, February 8, 2011; Human Rights Watch email communication with Juan Carlos Álvarez Paz, March 25, 2011.

[235] Decision by Judge Alberto J. Rossi Palencia, File No. 21J-552-10, September 19, 2011. Copy on file at Human Rights Watch. ([P]or lo que ante el razonamiento derivado del concepto de lesa humanidad que implica una grave y sistemática violación de los derechos humanos del pueblo venezolano, no puede desconocer este juzgador, con base en la sana crítica y bajo los principios de la lógica, que un señalamiento directo y a través de un medio de comunicación en transmisión de señal abierta, del régimen político de nuestro país, como relacionado con el narcotráfico, compromete la perspectiva de angustia del colectivo derivando en una natural condición de preocupación extrema y mantenimiento en zozobra en los términos exigidos por la norma jurídica.)

[236] Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, art. 7.

[237] Human Rights Watch email communication with Juan Carlos Álvarez Paz, July 14, 2011. The ruling came out in September 2011. Decision by Judge Alberto J. Rossi Palencia, File No. 21J-552-10, September 19, 2011.

[238] Human Rights Watch email communication with Juan Carlos Álvarez Paz, May 5, 2012.

[239] Letter from José Ramírez, mayor, to José Manuel Angarita, president of Tele Red, November 16, 2010. Copy on file at Human Rights Watch. (Hoy se ha llegado a lo intolerable, cuando sus conductores recogen imágenes en la comunidad Ciudad Miranda, mediante la cual logran entrevistar a una ciudadana que pese a ser de mi vínculo familiar, mantenemos diferencias personales en el seno de esa relación doméstica y tras señalar acusaciones altisonantes y ofensivas a la dignidad humana y mi investidura como alcalde, los directivos de ese canal-67, están transmitiendo dichas imágenes con un corte de campaña en micros y en horarios supervisados que contravienen abiertamente las limitantes contempladas en la Ley de Responsabilidad en Radio y Televisión.)

[240] Ibid. (No me queda otra opción como alcalde de la ciudad, de aplear a los derechos que me asisten para hacer respetar al gobierno y a la Revolución Bolivariana.)

[241] Information provided by the nongovernmental organization Public Space (Espacio Público) to Catalina Botero, OAS Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression and Information, July 15, 2011; CONATEL, “Document signed after inspection to the National Audiovisual Producer Tu Imagen TV in Charallave, State of Miranda” (Acta de Inspección al Productor Nacional Audiovisual Producciones Tu Imagen TV en la Población Charallave, Estado de Miranda), March 28, 2011.

[242] Contract signed by Douglas Javier Abreu Zarate, Tu Imagen TV, and Paulina Sandoval, Representaciones Inversat SA (Tele Red), received by CONATEL on April 8, 2011.

[243] Human Rights Watch telephone interviews with Douglas Abreu, president of Tu Imagen, April 4 and May 10, 2012.

[244] The other four were Blanca Rosa Eekhout Gómez, a legislator; Tibisay Lucena Ramírez, the president of the National Electoral Council; Gabriela Ramírez, the ombudsperson, and Adelina González, the comptroller general.

[245] “The Powerful Women of the Beautiful Revolution” (Las Poderosas de la Revolución Bonita), 6to Poder, August 21, 2011. Copy on file at Human Rights Watch.

[246] “Women call for investigation of the weekly paper 6to Poder for inciting symbolic violence” (Mujeres exigieron investigar al semanario 6to Poder por promover violencia simbólica), Agencia Venezolana de Noticias, August 21, 2011, http://www.avn.info.ve/node/73502 (accessed May 23, 2012); “Measures against the weekly paper 6to Poder for gender violence are being considered” (Evalúan medidas contra el semanario 6to Poder por agresión de género), Agencia Venezolana de Noticias, August 21, 2011, http://www.avn.info.ve/contenido/eval%C3%BAan-medidas-contra-semanario-6to-poder-agresi%C3%B3n-g%C3%A9nero (accessed May 23, 2012); “March in defense of the role of women in national life” (Marchan en defensa y reivindicación del rol de la mujer en la vida nacional), Agencia Venezolana de Noticias, August 21, 2011, http://www.avn.info.ve/contenido/marchan-defensa-y-reivindicaci%C3%B3n-del-rol-mujer-vida-nacional (accessed May 23, 2012).

[247] Letter from Emylce Ramos Julio, 37th prosecutor of the Public Ministry (fiscal trigésima séptima del Ministerio Público a Nivel Nacional con Competencia Plena), to the First Instance Criminal Judge on call in Caracas (Juez de Guardia de Primera Instancia en lo Penal en Funciones de Control del Circuito Judicial Penal del Área Metropolitana de Caracas), Case F.37NN.0565.2011; Decision by Judge Denise Bocanegra D., File 15.386-11, August 20, 2011; Ninth First Instance Criminal Court of Caracas (Juzgado Noveno de Primera Instancia en función de Control del Circuito Judicial Penal de la Circunscripción Judicial del Área Metropolitana de Caracas), Notice (Boleta de Notificación), File 15.386-11, August 20, 2011. Copies on file at Human Rights Watch.

[248] Girón was accused of “vilipendio,” “instigación al odio,” and “violencia de género.” Human Rights Watch interview with Elenis Rodríguez Martínez, president of FUNDECI, and Rigoberto Quintero Azuaje, member of board of directors of FUNDECI, Caracas, March 22, 2012. FUNDECI is providing legal assistance to Girón in this case.

[249] Ibid.

[250] Decision by Judge Denisse Bocanegra Díaz, File No. 15.386-11, September 1, 2011. Copy on file at Human Rights Watch. “Leocenis García,” YouTube video, posted by “n24fuenteno,” August 30, 2011, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bMCEs1E3KKQ (accessed May 21, 2012).

[251] The crimes for which he was charged were: vilipendio contra funcionario público,instigación al odio público, and ofensa pública por razones de género. Accusation by Emylce Ramos Julio, 37th prosecutor of the Public Ministry (fiscal trigésima séptima del Ministerio Público a Nivel Nacional con Competencia Plena), Case 00-F37-0015-11, October 14, 2011.Copy on file at Human Rights Watch.

[252] “Journalist Leocenis García begins indefinitive hunger strike” (Periodista Leocenis García empieza huelga de hambre indefinida), video, undated, http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xid3it_periodista-leocenis-garcia-empieza-huelga-de-hambre-indefini_news (accessed May 21, 2012); “Leocenis García is on hunger strike” (Leocenis García se declara en huelga de hambre), Últimas Noticias, November 9, 2011, http://www.ultimasnoticias.com.ve/noticias/actualidad/politica/leocenis-garcia-se-declaro-en-huelga-de-hambre.aspx (accessed May 21, 2012); “Leocenis García in conditional liberty” (Leocenis García en libertad condicional), video, Lapatilla, November 21, 2011, http://www.lapatilla.com/site/2011/11/21/otorgan-medida-cautelar-a-leocenis-garcia/ (accessed May 21, 2012).

[253] Human Rights Watch interview with Elenis Rodríguez Martínez, president of FUNDECI, and Rigoberto Quintero Azuaje, member of board of directors of FUNDECI, Caracas, March 22, 2012; Human Rights Watch interview with Pedro Aranguren, Leocenis García's lawyer, Caracas, March 20, 2012.

[254] Decision by Judge Denise Bocanegra D., File 15.386-11, August 20, 2011; Ninth First Instance Criminal Court of Caracas (Juzgado Noveno de Primera Instancia en función de Control del Circuito Judicial Penal de la Circunscripción Judicial del Área Metropolitana de Caracas), Notice (Boleta de Notificación), File 15.386-11, August 20, 2011. Copies on file at Human Rights Watch.

[255] Ninth First Instance Criminal Court of Caracas (Juzgado Noveno de Primera Instancia en función de Control del Circuito Judicial Penal de la Circunscripción Judicial del Área Metropolitana de Caracas), Notice (Boleta de Notificación), File 15.386-11, August 29, 2011. Copy on file at Human Rights Watch. (Se autoriza la edición y distribución en los términos siguientes: 1. Se prohíbe al Semanario 6to Poder la publicación por cualquier medio de contenidos gráficos o textuales que se constituyan en una ofensa y/o ultraje a la reputación o al decoro de algún representante de los Poderes Públicos y cuyo objeto sea exponerlos al desprecio o al odio público. 2. Se prohíbe la publicación de contenidos vejatorios y ofensivos contra el género femenino, más aún cuando los medios de comunicación son un elemento fundamental en la difusión de contenidos relativos a los derechos de las mujeres... 3. Se ordene retirar todos los ejemplares que se encuentren a disposición del público y que contengan el artículo identificado, así como cualquier otra publicación que busque reeditar.)

[256]Almost 90% of the petroleum spilled in Guarapiche has been removed (Ha sido recuperado cerca de 90 % del crudo derramado en Guarapiche), Correo del Orinoco, February 17, 2012, http://www.correodelorinoco.gob.ve/tema-dia/ha-sido-recuperado-cerca-90-crudo-derramado-guarapiche/ (accessed May 21, 2012); “Work to contain petroleum spill in Guarapiche River moves forward” (Avanzan trabajos para contener derrame de crudo en río Guarapiche), Prensa YVKE Mundial/AVN, February 10, 2012, http://www.radiomundial.com.ve/article/avanzan-trabajos-para-contener-derrame-de-crudo-en-r%C3%ADo-guarapiche (accessed May 21, 2012); “Governor of Monagas: The water treatment plant in the Guarapiche river will not be reactivated” (Gobernador de Monagas: Aún no se reactivará planta de agua en río Guarapiche), video, March 8, 2012, http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xpbgci_aun-no-se-reactivara-planta-de-agua-en-rio-guarapiche_news (accessed May 22, 2012).

[257] “New tests will be done to evaluate if water plant of Monagas will be reopened” (Harán nuevas pruebas para evaluar reapertura de planta de Aguas de Monagas), Agencia Venezolana de Noticias, March 8, 2012, http://www.avn.info.ve/node/102551 (accessed May 21, 2012).

[258]“The PSUV decided to suspend the governor of Monagas for violating the principle of revolutionary unity” (PSUV decidió suspender al gobernador de Monagas por violar el principio de unidad revolucionaria), PSUV News, March 14, 2012, http://www.psuv.org.ve/portada/tribunal-disciplinario-psuv-decidio-suspender-al-gobernador-monagas/ (accessed May 21, 2012); “José Gregorio Briceño definitively expelled from the PSUV” (Expulsado definitivamente del PSUV José Gregorio Briceño), Correo del Orinoco, March 19, 2012, http://www.correodelorinoco.gob.ve/regiones/expulsado-definitivamente-psuv-jose-gregorio-briceno/ (accessed May 21, 2012).

[259] “PSUV suspends Monagas governor, José Gregorio Briceño” (PSUV suspende al gobernador de Monagas, José Gregorio Briceño), Venezolana de Televisión, March 14, 2012, http://www.vtv.gov.ve/index.php/nacionales/78762 (accessed May 21, 2012).

[260]“President Chávez supports the suspension of the governor of Monagas from the PSUV” (Presidente Chávez apoya suspensión del gobernador de Monagas del PSUV), Venezolana de Televisión, March 14, 2012, http://www.vtv.gov.ve/index.php/nacionales/78763-presidente-chavez-apoya-suspension-del-gobernador-de-monagas-del-psuv (accessed April 12, 2012).

[261] “Environmental Ministry guarantees safe drinking water in all the country” (Ministerio del Ambiente garantiza salubridad del agua potable en todo el país), Venezolana de Televisión, March 15, 2012, http://www.vtv.gov.ve/index.php/nacionales/78792-min-hitcher-los-servicios-de-agua-que-entregamos-en-todo-el-pais-son-de-absoluta-potabilidad- (accessed May 21, 2012).

[262] “Chávez asks the justice system to act in light of campaign against the quality of water” (Chávez pidió a la justicia actuar ante campaña contra calidad del agua), Correo del Orinoco, March 21, 2012, http://www.correodelorinoco.gob.ve/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/CO915.pdf (accessed May 21, 2012).

[263] “Chávez urged an investigation into terrorism campaign about water” (Chávez exhortó a investigar campaña de terrorismo sobre el agua), Venezolana de Televisión, article and video, March 20, 2012, http://www.vtv.gov.ve/index.php/nacionales/79140-chavez-exhorto-a-investigar-campana-de-terrorismo-sobre-el-agua (accessed May 21, 2012). (Bueno tenemos que actuar, al respecto de esto, al menos abrir una investigación y si está lo que están diciendo estos, pues. Bueno dónde están sus pruebas? Demuéstrenlo. Y si no, bueno aquí está la ley compadre. Usted rectifique o esto, bueno. Yo no soy juez ni nada, pero soy jefe de estado. Y tengo que hacer un llamado a los entes del Estado a asumir cada quien su responsabilidad.)

[264] “Public Ministry opened investigation into campaign of alleged water contamination” (MP Inició Investigación por campaña de presunta contaminación del agua), Venezolana de Televisión, video, March 21, 2012, http://www.vtv.gov.ve/index.php/multimedia/viewvideo/103396/noticias/mp-inicio-investigacion-por-campana-de-presunta-contaminacion-del-agua-21-03-2012 (accessed April 12, 2012). (Por esa razón yo he instruido en el marco de esta investigación al fiscal 20, al doctor Daniel Guedes, para que solicite al Tribunal de Control una medida cautelar y esta medida consiste en que se les exija a los medios de comunicación que toda información relacionada con la contaminación del agua sea soportada con un informe técnico.)

[265]Public Ministry of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, “Injunction requiring responsibility when disseminating information about alleged water contamination is granted” (Acuerdan medida cautelar innominada que exige responsabilidad al difundir información sobre presunta contaminación del agua), press release, http://www.ministeriopublico.gob.ve/web/guest/defensa-integral-del-ambiente-y-delito-ambiental;jsessionid=0130B292DD487500768F8DCD9E6EAB93?p_p_id=101_INSTANCE_W4eD&p_p_lifecycle=0&p_p_state=maximized&p_p_mode=view&_101_INSTANCE_W4eD_struts_action=%2Fasset_publisher%2Fview_content&_101_INSTANCE_W4eD_urlTitle=acuerdan-medida-innominada-que-exige-responsabilidad-al-difundir-informacion-sobre-el-agua&_101_INSTANCE_W4eD_type=content&redirect=%2Fweb%2Fguest%2Fdefensa-integral-del-ambiente-y-delito-ambiental%3Fp_p_id%3D101_INSTANCE_W4eD%26p_p_lifecycle%3D1%26p_p_state%3Dmaximized (accessed April 26, 2012). (A solicitud del Ministerio Público, fue acordada una medida cautelar innominada que exige a los medios de comunicación nacionales y regionales impresos; así como a los noticieros de radio, televisión y digitales que actúen con extrema responsabilidad en la difusión de información relacionada con la presunta contaminación del agua en el país destinada al consumo humano, debiendo contar con el debido soporte técnico veraz avalado por un organismo competente.)

[266] Human Rights Watch interview with two journalists from audiovisual media, Caracas, March 22, 2012.

[267] Image of the cover of El Nacional, August 13, 2010, http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=421782656566 (accessed April 27, 2012).

[268] Ombudsman Office, “The Ombudsman Office requests protective action due to images published in the newspaper El Nacional” (Defensoría del Pueblo solicita acción de protección por imágenes publicadas en el diario El Nacional), undated, http://www.defensoria.gob.ve/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=590:defensoria-del-pueblo-solicita-accion-de-proteccion-por-imagenes-publicadas-en-el-diario-el-nacional&catid=7:principal&Itemid=79 (accessed February 15, 2012); Petition (Acción de Protección), presented by Larry Devoe Márquez, Jesús Antonio Mendoza Mendoza, and Alejandra Bonalde Colmenares, from the Ombudsman Office, before a Specialized Court to Protect Children and Adolescents in the Metropolitan Area of Caracas (Tribunal de Mediación, Sustanciación y Ejecución del Circuito Judicial de Protección de Niños, Niñas y Adolescentes del Área Metropolitana de Caracas), August 13, 2010. Copy on file at Human Rights Watch. (Que en virtud de la declaratoria con lugar de la presente Acción de Protección se ordene al Diario El Nacional se abstenga de publicar imágenes de contenido violento, sangriento, grotescas, bien sea de sucesos o no, que de una u otra forma vulneren la integridad psíquica y moral de los niños, niñas y adolescentes.)

[269] Complaint filed by Larry Devoe Márquez, Jesús Antonio Mendoza Mendoza, and Alejandra Bonalde Colmenares, from the Ombudsman Office, before Judge Willian Alexander Páez Jiménez, Judge from the Court of Protection of Boys, Girls and Adolescents from Caracas (Juez del Tribunal de Protección de Niños, Niñas y Adolescentes, Circunscripción Judicial del Área Metropolitana de Caracas), August 13, 2010. Copy on file at Human Rights Watch. (La imagen publicada en el Diario El Nacional... genera emociones, valores negativos, impropios e inoportunos para un (sic) niños, niñas y adolescentes toda vez que distorsionan y perturban su psiquis, afectando su personalidad y en definitiva su vida futura.... El uso de imágenes grotescas, violentas y sangrientas como la presentada en el Diario El Nacional en nada contribuyen a la buena calidad de vida, formación y desarrollo integral de los niños, niñas y adolescentes, las cual (sic) se ven mermadas, ya que la interpretación de las imágenes que publican los medios dejan impresiones duraderas, que afecten su salud mental, psíquica o psicológica.)

[270] Ombudsman Office, “Ombudsman Office requests printed media to abstain from publishing images that undermine childhood and adolescence” (DdP solicita que medios impresos se abstengan de publicar imágenes que atenten contra la infancia y la adolescencia), press release, undated, http://www.defensoria.gob.ve/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=589:defensoria-solicita-a-tribunales-medida-preventiva-para-que-medios-impresos-se-abstengan-de-publicar-imagenes-que-atenten-contra-la-infancia-y-la-adolescencia-&catid=7:principal&Itemid=79(accessed February 15,2012).

[271] Attorney General’s Office, “Court prohibits El Nacional from publishing violent messages” (Tribunal de Protección prohibe a El Nacional publicar mensajes violentos), press release, August 17, 2010, http://www.ministeriopublico.gob.ve/web/guest/buscador/-/journal_content/56/10136/56395 (accessed May 21, 2012); Decision by Judge William Alexander Páez Jiménez, Case AP51-V-2010-013967, August 16, 2010. Copy on file at Human Rights Watch. (Se prohíbe al Diario El Nacional la publicación de imágenes, informaciones y publicidad de cualquier tipo con contenido de sangre, armas, mensajes de terror, agresiones físicas, imágenes que aticen contenidos de guerra y mensajes sobre muertes y decesos que puedan alterar el bienestar psicológico de los niños, niñas y adolescentes que tienen residencias en la República Bolivariana de Venezuela, hasta que se decida el fondo de la presente acción de amparo.)

[272] A press release issued by the Ombudsman Office is reproduced at: “Ombudsman Office justifies prohibition of violent images” (Defensoría justifica medida de prohibición de imágenes violentas), Agencia Venezolana de Noticias, August 18, 2010, http://www.avn.info.ve/node/12154 (accessed May 24, 2012). (Ante las decisiones adoptadas por el Tribunal Décimo Segundo de Primera Instancia de Protección de Niños, Niñas y Adolescentes, en fecha 17 y 18 de agosto de 2010, mediante las cuales ordenó a los medios de comunicación social impresos de todo el país abstenerse de publicar imágenes violentas, sangrientas y grotescas, que de una u otra forma vulneren la integridad psíquica y moral de los niños, niñas y adolescentes...)

[273] Decision by Judge William Alexander Páez Jiménez, Judge of the 12th First Instance Court of Mediation (Juez del Tribunal Décimo Segundo de Primera Instancia de Mediación y Sustanciación), Case (Asunto) AP51-V-2010-013967, August 19, 2010. Copy on file at Human Rights Watch. (Se prohíbe al Diario El Nacional la publicación de imágenes de cualquier tipo con contenido de sangre, armas, mensajes de terror, agresión física, imágenes que utilicen contenidos de guerra y mensajes sobre muertes y decesos que puedan alterar el bienestar psicológico de los niños, niñas y adolescentes que tienen residencias en la República Bolivariana de Venezuela hasta que se decida el fondo de la presente Acción de Protección.)

[274]The prohibition to publish images with violent content in the printed media is revoked (Revocan prohibición de publicar en medios impresos imágenes con contenidos violentos), Agencia Venezolana de Noticias, August 19, 2010, http://www.avn.info.ve/node/12388 (accessed March 30, 2012).

[275] Human Rights Watch interview with Vivianne Font and Juan Garretón, El Nacional's lawyers, Caracas, March 21, 2012.

[276] Scene from Chepe Fortuna, Episode 44, RCN Televisión, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-gkTfyuuSE (accessed February 15, 2012). (Qué va a ser de Venezuela sin su Huguito? Vas a ser libre, Venezuela, porque Huguito ultimamente vivía ... metiendose en la casa de todo mundo, haciéndote quedar mal, Venezuela.)

[277]“Soap opera ‘Chepe Fortuna,’ Colombian TV trash aired by Televen mocks Venezuela” (Novela ‘Chepe Fortuna’, telebasura colombiana por Televen, una burla a Venezuela), Aporrea, January 13, 2011,  http://www.aporrea.org/medios/n172942.html (accessed May 21, 2012). Human Rights Watch saw images of the La Hojilla tape, in which Mario Silva said:Es una falta de respeto a Venezuela. Se le pierde un perro y el perro se llama Hugo, entonces dice Venezuela ¿qué va a ser sin Hugo? (…) Vamos a poner las cosas a la inversa: dicen que nosotros utilizamos el canal de todos los venezolanos para atacarlos a ellos, pobrecitos, ellos tan santos que son. Supongan ustedes a la inversa que nosotros hacemos una novela y le ponemos, le ponemos a la señora el nombre de Colombia o el nombre de Estados Unidos. Y ponemos al señor que está ahí ‘¡Ay! ¿Qué va a ser Colombia sin Santos, sin mi perrito Santos?’ o ‘¿Qué va a ser Estados Unidos sin mi perrito Obama? Yo coloco las cuestiones a la inversa.’”

[278]Broadcasting Law, art. 28. CONATEL, “Conatel urges Televen to suspend 12 hearts and Chepe Fortuna for airing denigrating contents” (CONATEL exhortó a Televen la suspension de 12 corazones y Chepe Fortuna por contenidos denigrantes), January 13, 2011, http://www.conatel.gob.ve/#http://www.conatel.gob.ve/index.php/principal/noticiacompleta?id_noticia=2916 (accessed May 21, 2012).

[279] “Venezuela asks that ‘Chepe Fortuna’ be removed from the air for xenophobia” (Venezuela pide sacar del aire a 'Chepe Fortuna' por 'xenófoba'), Terra, January 14, 2011, http://www.terra.com.co/farandulaytv/articulo/html/far5469-venezuela-pide-sacar-del-aire-a-chepe-fortuna-por-xenofoba.htm (accessed February 15, 2012).

[280] “C5N - Chávez censors a soap opera” (CSN - Chávez censura a una telenovela), YouTube video posted by “c5n,” January 20, 2011, http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&feature=fvwp&v=9H2mRZuYyks (accessed May 11, 2012). (¿Oye qué cosa es esa horrible, chico, una novela? Una novela que estaban pasando por ahí. Era un irrespeto a Venezuela, hecha en Colombia. A ver, no, que hay una señora muy bonita que se llama… No, Venezuela como que era una señora ahí de mala conducta, altanera, etcétera, gorda... yo no tengo nada contra los gordos ni gordas, pero bueno. Y otra llamada Colombia. Y entonces el perro de Venezuela, Huguito. Una novela… y así la pasaban, yo ni sabía. Pero lo peor es que viene Televen y la pasa aquí. Qué irrespeto por el orgullo venezolano, chico. Qué irrespeto para Venezuela. Menos mal que Televen accedió a retirarla del aire.)

“Commandant President Hugo Chávez before the National Assembly” (El Comandante Presidente Hugo Chávez ante la Asamblea Nacional), January 17, 2011, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsb6SyASUwU (accessed February 15, 2012); “Presidente Chávez entregará Ley Habilitante en mayo,” Aporrea, January 15, 2011, http://www.radiomundial.com.ve/node/158469 (accessed February 15, 2012). (Pedí que hablaran con Camero y menos mal que Televen accedió a sacar programas que denigraban a Venezuela.)

[281] A key aspect of the Chávez administration’s 2007-2013 “Economic and Social Development Plan for the Nation” is to promote “social control” of mass media; to advance “using the media as a tool for capacity building; to strengthen public media; and ‘democratize’ information.” General Guidelines for the Social and Economic Development Plan for the National 2007-2013, September 2007, http://www.cenditel.gob.ve/files/u1/lineas_gen_nacion.pdf (accessed May 21, 2012).

[282]A Decade Under Chávez cited a joint declaration of the special rapporteurs on freedom of expression of the United Nations, the OAS, and the OSCE of 2001, which stated that: “Promoting diversity should be a primary goal of broadcast regulation; diversity implies gender equity within broadcasting, as well as equal opportunity for all sections of society to access the airwaves; broadcast regulators and governing bodies should be so constituted as to protect them against political and commercial interference.” Joint Declaration by the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, and the OAS Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, “Challenges to Freedom of Expression in the New Century,” November 2001, http://www.osce.org/fom/40053 (accessed May 18, 2012).

[283] Venezolana de Televisión webpage, http://www.vtv.gob.ve/ (accessed May 22, 2012); Vive TV homepage, http://www.vive.gob.ve/  (accessed May 22,2012); TVes homepage, http://www.tves.gob.ve/ (accessed May 22, 2012);  Telesur homepage, http://www.telesurtv.net/ (accessed May 22, 2012); ANTV webpage, http://www.antv.gob.ve/m8/portal.asp (accessed May 22, 2012); Ávila TV webpage , http://www.avilatv.gob.ve/ (accessed January 31, 2012).

[284] The Radio Mundial webpage lists the Public Media System allies,” undated, http://www.radiomundial.com.ve/ (May 22, 2012); Venezolana de Televisión, The Channel” (El Canal), undated, http://www.vtv.gob.ve/index.php/el-canal (accessed May 22, 2012); Agencia Venezolana de Noticias webpage, http://www.avn.info.ve/ (accessed May 22, 2012), Ciudad Caracas webpage, http://www.ciudadccs.info/ (accessed May 22, 2012); Diario Vea webpage, http://diariovea.com.ve/ (accessed May 22, 2012); Correo del Orinoco webpage, http://www.correodelorinoco.gob.ve/ (accessed May 22, 2012); La Radio del Sur webpage, http://laradiodelsur.com/ (accessed May 22, 2012); Radio Nacional de Venezuela webpage, http://www.rnv.gov.ve/noticias/ (accessed May 22, 2012); Radio Mundial webpage, http://www.radiomundial.gob.ve/ (accessed May 22, 2012); Alba Ciudad webpage; http://albaciudad.org/wp/ (accessed May 22, 2012); The Hugo Chávez Blog webpage, http://www.chavez.org.ve/ (accessed May 22, 2012); Venezuela de Verdad webpage, http://www.venezueladeverdad.gob.ve/ (accessed May 22, 2012); América XXI webpage, http://www.americaxxi.com.ve/ (accessed May 22, 2012).

[285] CONATEL, “Total number of of community media outlets with licenses” (Total de medios comunitarios habilitados), undated, http://www.conatel.gob.ve/files/solicitudes/habilitaciones/Total_de_Medios_Comunitarios_Habilitados.pdf (accessed May 22, 2012).

[286] University of Carabobo, “Andrés Izarra: Socialism needs communication hegemony” (Andrés Izarra: El socialismo necesita una hegemonía comunicacional), January 8, 2007, http://www.boletin.uc.edu.ve/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4990&Itemid=38 (accessed February 15,2012). (En la hegemonía comunicacional va a haber varios niveles: integración de los sistemas de los medios públicos, articulación de un plan estratégico que permita la orientación de esos medios públicos; la creación de un sistema nacional de medios comunitarios y alternativos; el impulso hacia una producción independiente.)

[287] “Community media are an arm of the Bolivarian Revolution” (Medios comunitarios son el brazo de la Revolución Bolivariana), Radio Nacional de Venezuela, April 29, 2009, http://www.rnv.gov.ve/noticias/index.php?act=ST&f=2&t=96209 (accessed May 22, 2012).

[288] Human Rights Watch interview with Marcelino Bisbal, professor of communications at the Andrés Bello Catholic University, Caracas, February 7, 2011; Raisa Urribarri,“Community to Government Media: Alternative Media Outlets During Times of Revolution” (De comunitarios a gobunitarios: los medios alternativos en tiempos de revolución), December 15, 2009, http://issuu.com/ellibertario/docs/gobunitarios (accessed February 15,2012), p. 19.

[289] “Final Declaration of the National Constituent Assembly of the National Movement of Alternative and Community Media Outlets” (Declaración Final de la Asamblea Nacional Constituyente del Movimiento Nacional de Medios Alternativos y Comunitarios), March 2008, http://alainet.org/active/22894/lang=es (accessed May 22, 2012). (Ya se cuentan por miles las venezolanas y venezolanos que activan en los medios alternativos y comunitarios, ejercitando una práctica comunicacional de compromiso pleno con la revolución bolivariana, con los anhelos transformadores del pueblo venezolano, apuntando ciertamente al diseño y construcción de un nuevo modelo comunicacional…En esta hora clave de la vida nacional, en la que la lucha ideológica/comunicacional constituye el escenario fundamental en el que se libra la gran batalla por la defensa del proceso bolivariano y por la instauración de las bases de la sociedad socialista del siglo XXI, el Movimiento que integra y articula a los MAC tiene que erigirse en vanguardia comunicacional del pueblo venezolano.)

[290] Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in the United States, “Descriptive Fact Sheet: Real Facts regarding Recent Events Involving the Media in Venezuela” (Ficha Descriptiva: Hechos reales sobre recientes eventos mediáticos en Venezuela), undated, http://venezuela-us.org/es/wp-content/uploads//2009/05/fd-hechos-reales-sobre-recientes-eventos-mediaticos1.pdf (accessed May 21, 2012).

[291] IACHR, “IACHR and Office of the Special Rapporteur Send Communication to the Venezuelan State Expressing Deep Concern About the Situation of Freedom of Expression,” August 5, 2009, http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/expression/showarticle.asp?artID=759&lID=1 (accessed June 7, 2012); UNHCHR, “Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Opinion and Expression expresses serious concern about the situation of free expression in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela” (Relator Especial sobre el derecho a la libertad de opinión y de Expresión manifiesta seria preocupación por la situación del derecho a la libertad de expresión en la República Bolivariana de Venezuela), August 5, 2009, http://www.ohchr.org/SP/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=8500&LangID=S (accessed June 7, 2009); Human Rights Watch interview with Nelson Belfort, president of the National Belfort Circuit, Caracas, August 30, 2011; Human Rights Watch interview with Silvia Alegrett, director of the National College of Journalists, Caracas, August 29, 2011; Human Rights Watch interview with Edwald Scharfenberg, director of the Institute of Press and Society (Instituto de Prensa y Sociedad, IPYS), Caracas, February 3, 2011; Human Rights Watch interview with Marcelino Bisbal, professor of communications at the Catholic University Andrés Bello, Caracas, February 7, 2011; “Press release of the National Union of Press Workers” (Comunicado del Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Prensa), August 1, 2009, http://www.tribunalatina.com/es/Viewer_100_1columna.php?IDN=19678 (accessed June 7, 2012); Public Space, “Annual report 2009. Venezuela. Situation of Freedom of Expression and Information” (Informe Anual 2009. Venezuela. Situación de la libertad de expresión e información), 2010, p. 19.   

[292] Human Rights Watch interview with Nelson Belfort, president of the National Belfort Circuit, Caracas, August 30, 2011.

[293] In two cases, CONATEL argued that the owner of the licenses had died, and in the other three that those operating the radio stations had surrendered their licenses (renuncia del título). Ministry of the Popular Power for Public Works and Housing, Resolution 177, July 31, 2009; Resolution 149, July 31, 2009; Resolution 176, July 31, 2009; Resolution 148, July 31, 2009; and Resolution 146, July 31, 2009.

[294] Information provided to Human Rights Watch via email exchange by Maria Luisa Villalobos from the National Belfort Circuit, December 15, 2011, and January 27, 2012.

[295] In August 2011, the Supreme Court of Justice rejected Belfort's request to adopt an injunction to stop the closures. As of June 2012, it had yet to adopt a decision on the merits of the constitutional appeal. Supreme Court of Justice of Venezuela, File No. 2009-0737, August 10, 2011. Human Rights Watch email communication with Maria Luisa Villalobos, from Belfort Circuit, February 3, 2012. Human Rights Watch written communication with Nelson Belfort, president of Circuito Nacional Belfort, June 7, 2012.

[296]“Minister Cabello: CONATEL actions end media estate” (Ministro Diosdado Cabello: Acciones de CONATEL ponen fin al latifundio mediatico), undated, http://www.asambleanacional.gob.ve/index.php?Itemid=27&id=22530&option=com_content&task=view (accessed April 20, 2012). ([D]esde esos circuitos han intentado destrozar a la revolución bolivariana, desfigurando lo que se ha venido haciendo a favor del pueblo, porque tienen una serie de opinadores sin oficio que hacen de ellos mismos la noticia.)

[297] “Agreement to support measures announced by the executive for the T¡telecommunications sector” (Acuerdo en respaldo a las medidas anunciadas por el Ejecutivo en el sector de Telecomunicaciones), June 14, 2009, http://www.asambleanacional.gob.ve/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=233&Itemid=185&lang=es&limitstart=20(accessed May 21, 2012). (Que es deber del Estado proteger la salud mental de los venezolanos y de las venezolanas contra el terrorismo mediático, ejercido por medios de comunicación privados con líneas editoriales al servicio de los intereses de la oligarquía tanto nacional como internacional.)

[298] Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in the United States, “Descriptive Fact Sheet: Real Facts regarding Recent Events Involving the Media in Venezuela.”

[299] IACHR, “Annual Report 2011,” para. 442; “During 2011, CONATEL closed 27 stations in 10 states” (Durante 2011 Conatel cerró 27 emisoras en 10 estados), El Universal, January 2, 2012, http://www.eluniversal.com/nacional-y-politica/120104/durante-2011-conatel-cerro-27-emisoras-en-10-estados (accessed February 14, 2012); “Pirate Radios” (Radios Piratas), Tal Cual, January 18, 2012, http://www.talcualdigital.com/Nota/visor.aspx?id=64599&tipo=AVA (accessed May 21, 2012); “Venezuelan agency seizes radio station equipment,” The Guardian, November 4, 2011, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/feedarticle/9931597 (accessed May 21, 2012); “CONATEL opens administrative proceeding against two radios in Tachira” (Conatel inició procedimiento sancionatorio a dos emisoras tachirenses), El Universal, November 29, 2011, http://www.eluniversal.com/nacional-y-politica/111129/conatel-inicio-procedimiento-sancionatorio-a-dos-emisoras-tachirenses (accessed May 21, 2012); CONATEL, “CONATEL imposes precautionary measures against FM Ritmo 107.9” (Conatel ejerció medidas cautelares contra el prestador de servicio de radiodifusión en frecuencia modulada Ritmo 107.9), press release, March 2, 2012, http://www.conatel.gob.ve/#http://www.conatel.gob.ve/index.php/principal/noticiacompleta?id_noticia=3094 (accessed May 21, 2012); “CONATEL closes radio stations in Monagas” (CONATEL cierra emisoras de radio en Monagas), Últimas Noticias, March 30, 2012, http://www.ultimasnoticias.com.ve/noticias/actualidad/politica/conatel-cierra-emisoras-de-radio-en-monagas.aspx(accessed May 21, 2012).

[300] Letter from Joseph Saunders, deputy program director of Human Rights Watch, to Pedro Maldonado, director of CONATEL, February 28, 2012.

[301] World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, 2010 World Press Trends, pp. 1176-1177; “Census 2011” (Censo 2011), undated, http://www.ine.gob.ve/CENSO2011/index.htm (accessed June 7, 2012).

[302] Human Rights Watch interview with Ricardo Antela, Globovisión's lawyer, Caracas, March 21, 2012; Human Rights Watch interview with Ana Cristina Nuñez, Globovisión’s lawyer at the time, Caracas, February 7, 2011. ([L]a incertidumbre que generan los procesos es enorme.)

[303] Human Rights Watch interview with Ana Cristina Nuñez, Globovisión’s lawyer at the time, Caracas, February 7, 2011.

[304]Human Rights Watch interview with two leading journalists from Globovisión, September 1, 2011. (Uno tiende a tener más ciudado. Nos tenemos que cuidar de cada cosa que decimos, las imágenes que mostramos. El cuidado es excesivo. En caso de duda, censuramos.)

[305] The Chamber of Radio Stations comprises a majority (approximately 400) of the more than 600 private radio stations that exist in Venezuela. Human Rights Watch written communication with Nelson Belfort, former president of the Chamber of Radios, June 14, 2012.

[306]PROVEA, “Annual Report 2011,” 2011, http://www.derechos.org.ve/pw/wp-content/uploads/16LibertadExpresión.pdf (accessed May 22, 2012), p. 301.

[307] Human Rights Watch interview with Silvia Alegrett, president of the National College of Journalists, Caracas, August 29, 2011.

[308] Marta Martínez, “In Venezuela there is self-censorship” (En Venezuela hay autocensura), Noticias De Gipuzkoa, January 7, 2012, http://www.noticiasdegipuzkoa.com/2012/01/07/mundo/en-venezuela-hay-autocensura(accessed April 11, 2012).

[309] Human Rights Watch interview with a journalist from audiovisual media, Caracas, March 22, 2012. ([El productor me dijo que] van a cambiar programación a 100% entretenimientos [y] que no hable de noticias,no puedes informar nada que sea incómodo para el gobierno, no puedes tocar las noticias... Como hubo tantos controles, leyes que nos amenazan, tantas amenazas, uno como periodista se cuida 1000 veces más lo que va a decir porque puede haber consecuencias para uno y para el medio. Uno comienza a autocesurarse por riesgo que se sancione.)

[310] Human Rights Watch interviews with two journalists from audiovisual media, Caracas, March 22, 2012.

[311] Human Rights Watch interview with a journalist from the audiovisual media, Caracas, March 22, 2012. (En múltiples oportunidades me han llamado a bajar el tono de lo que digo y pregunto... Cada pregunta hay que repensarla 500 veces.)

[312]Human Rights Watch interview with Silvia Alegrett, president of the National College of Journalists, Caracas, August 29, 2011.