Hundreds of Venezuelan journalists protest over newsprint shortage crisis
Following the closure of a dozen Venezuelan newspapers due to the country’s paper shortage crisis, hundreds of journalists and journalism students marched down the streets of Caracas on Jan. 28 calling the government to sell foreign currencies to print media outlets so they can purchase much-needed newsprint. The journalists said they will continue to protest until the government resolves the situation, newspaper El Nacional reported.
According to the Associated Press, several regional newspapers like El Sol de Maturín, Antorcha, Caribe, La Hora and Versión Final stopped circulating last year, while others could close this month.
The crisis is already having an impact on national newspapers as well. Miguel Henrique Otero, president of El Nacional – one of the biggest dailies in Venezuela – told the AP they only have enough newsprint to last until February.
The National College of Journalists (CNP) has declared that the inability to obtain newsprint endangers the right to information, “which is extremely dangerous for democracy and the exercise of freedom, but also threatens the survival of entire families that depend on the chain of production and commercialization of close to 70 newspapers that exist in this country and that, to a greater or lesser extent, is currently in a state of emergency.”
The CNP said that the families of some 30,000 media workers could be affected by the crisis.
The National Syndicate of Press Workers (SNTP) said the protests will continue until the authorities fix the situation. The SNTP’s managers are already in negotiations with the National Center of Exterior Commerce, which promised to answer their pleas in a few days, SDP Noticias reported.
According to Caracol Radio, the National Assembly's media commission received representatives of media company associations on Jan. 29 to discuss how to accelerate the process of acquiring foreign currencies, although the opposition complained that the news outlets that are the most critical of the government were not invited to the meeting.
In 2012, newsprint, which is not produced in Venezuela, was listed as a product that must be imported with foreign currencies sold by the State, which has made it difficult for newspapers to obtain paper.
The crisis has attracted criticism from various international organizations, which accuse the Venezuelan government of manipulating the currency exchange system to intentionally hurt their critics.
Watch below two videos in Spanish of the protests filmed by El Nacional:
- Role of Venezuelan government in newsprint shortage crisis worries organizations
- Colombian newspapers send 52 tons of paper to Venezuelan dailies affected by shortage
- Call for Gabriel García Márquez Ibero American Journalism Award to remain open till Aug. 26
- Newsprint shortage causes state of emergency for Venezuelan newspaper El Universal
- Ecuadorian freedom of expression organization denounces government harassment, fears dissolution