Venezuela: Opposition violently assault journalist

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Venezuelan opposition protesters in Caracas attacked three journalists after a march demanding “greater freedom of the press”. Meanwhile, barricades in Tachira state have claimed another life.

Luis Gutierrez Camargo was killed instantly during a collision with an opposition roadblock in Tachira on March 4, communication minister Delcy Rodriguez announced via Twitter.

Rodriguez condemned the use of street barricades, describing them as “murderous methods”.

“Were the violent ones who organised these barricades unaware that they can end the life of another person?” Rodriguez asked. “This is a protest?”

Tachira has been an epicentre of anti-government protests for more than a month. Violent groups have brought much of the state to a standstill. President Nicolas Maduro announced on March 4 that he would establish a peace conference within the state.

Rodriguez also said three journalists were being “assisted and protected by the National Guard” in Caracas, after one was beaten with a lead pipe by violent opposition demonstrators on March 4.

Photojournalist Cristian Hernandez said via Twitter he was “fine” after being repeatedly struck with the pipe while covering the protest. He stated he was wearing a helmet at the time, and was rescued by co-workers and “several” other protesters.

Two other journalists were reportedly attacked during the incident.

The journalist had reportedly been working in the area for several days, and suggested via Twitter that the attack was in response to the arrest of a demonstrator on March 3. According to Hernandez's tweet, the attackers blamed him for the arrest.

All three journalists work for private media outlets. Dagne Cobo Buschbeck, a Caracas-based photojournalist who was on the scene, tweeted of the incident, “AFP, EFE, Reuters, Cadena Capriles, [and] Bloque Desarmes ALL attacked ... they protest for freedom of expression and against censorship, and they attack photo-journalists with blows for no reason? Where’s the coherence?”

Venezuelan newspaper Ultimas Noticias said several journalists who had been working in the area decided not to cover the protests in the Altamira area of the capital tomorrow out of concern for their security.

The incident follows a reportedly peaceful opposition march that day in Caracas for “greater media freedom”.

[Abridged from Venezuela Analysis.]

From GLW issue 1000