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JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

Journalists protest excessive use of force by National Guard in Venezuela



Reporters from different news media gathered on Sunday Mar. 23 at Plaza Madariaga in Caracas to protest the repression against press workers at the hands of the National Guard.

 Protests in Venezuela on March 3. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Afterward, representatives of the National Union of Press Workers’ (SNTP), which organized the protest, met with General Commander of the National Guard, Noguera Pietri to hand him a statement condemning the aggressions against journalists -- among them the detention of journalist Israel Ruiz in the region of Altos Mirandinos. After the meeting, Ruiz was released without charges.

The protest also took place after the National Guard arrested Mildred Manrique, a reporter with newspaper 2001, after they searched her residence on Saturday Mar. 22.

That day, according to the Institute of Press and Society in Venezuela (IPYS), National Guard officers entered her building in the Altamira sector of Caracas and searched several apartments where people had been allegedly throwing objects at them through the windows. Luz Mely Reyes, director of 2001, told IPYS that officials entered her residence and detained her after accusing her of being a "terrorist" for having a helmet, a gas mask and a bullet-proof vest -- equipment she uses to cover the protests.

The officers seized the gear and other belongings, including three computers. According to El País, the Brigade General Manuel Fernández Quevedo said they’d found Molotov bombs, gas masks and anti-government propaganda at Manrique’s residency.

According to IPYS, Manrique was held in Fuerte Tiuna, a military installation, and was released after being interrogated late Saturday Mar. 22.

Manrique had previously been harassed by National Guard officers while she covered protests last month. In two separate occasions, officials pointed their weapons at her and threatened to shoot her if she photographed the protests, even though she was wearing her press credentials.

Journalism organizations have placed the number of aggressions against journalists above 65 since the protests against insecurity and lack of goods started Feb. 12 in Venezuela. 



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