The new maneuver of the Chavista regime against freedom of the press: it intends to modify the Law on the Exercise of Journalism and the Code of Ethics

Journalist Gregory Jaimes and camera assistant Rubén Brito, from VPITV, injured by police officers in May 2019

In one more strategy towards the destruction of freedom of the press in Venezuela, the Chavista National Assembly proposes the reform of the Law of Exercise of Journalism with a view to the destruction of the profession of the social communicator, with the argument of “inclusion” and “adapt it to the new changes”. At the same time that it is proposed to modify the Code of Ethics of PeriodisIt is with the excuse of determining “if it is a weapon to favor particular interests or the people,” according to the deputy of the ruling party María Carolina Chávez González, since she assumes herself to be a journalist without being one, violating the Law that she seeks to modify.

The National College of Journalists (CNP) called on its more than 25,800 members, distributed in its 26 sections, “to raise their individual protest, to organize, to mobilize, to demand concrete actions from their union leaders so that the spirit of the Law that for 50 years foresaw the advance of a communicational hegemony is not altered, whether private or state, promoted by ignorance, ideological blindness or interests alien to the Venezuelan people.”

The Communication Commission of the AN, made up entirely of members of the revolution, is chaired by Juan Carlos Alemán Pérez, with Tania Valentina Díaz González as vice president, followed by María Chávez; the other members are Fidel Alejandro Madroñero González, Rudy Carolina Puerta Arteaga, Gabriela Mayerling Peña Martínez, Alberto José Gago Betancourt, Antonio de Jesús Hernández Díaz, José Antonio Uzcátegui Armijo, Edgar Humberto González (PPT), Alejandro José Natera, Luisa Josefina Rodríguez Torres , Roque Valero Pérez, Ricardo Alberto González Alvarado, Alberto José Araguibel Brito and Ginkellys Vanessa Gutiérrez Montero.

Chávez González said that “a journalism has emerged that does not go through the academy”, which coincides not only with its illegal exercise, but as a way to justify what the revolution has tried to do with the press and journalists in Venezuela. The proliferation of programs in the government propaganda media is not accidental. led by individuals who insult, are vulgar, misogynistic, violate several laws at the same time, including privacy, interviewing, using mockery and personal and family disqualification against political opponents whom they turn into enemies and targets of intelligence bodies.

Deputy Maria Carolina Chávez González talks about the reform of the Journalism Law

During the governments of the late Hugo Chávez and now of Nicolás Maduro, there are hundreds of written, radio and television media, as well as programs and digital media that have been closed and censored, together with a significant number of journalists attacked, imprisoned, persecuted and/or or with court cases.

With typewriters or cell phones

The Board of Directors of the National Association of Journalists issued a statement highlighting that “whether with a typewriter, fax and touch-tone telephones or with the Internet, social networks or cell phones, the need to provide Venezuelan society with quality and responsible information from university education of those empowered to convert data into socially meaningful information still remains intact; that despite the fact that times have changed, Ethics remains the same and the threats to those who make freedom of expression a flag too”.

On the other hand, the CNP expresses that “Modern societies, infected by fake news, programmed disinformation and the moral walls that social networks have become, need professionals who take ownership of ethics. In the Venezuelan case, the premeditated concealment of official data by the State, the Government’s vocation to censor dissident voices and the use of the legal apparatus to close media outlets, arrest journalists and ignore the attacks against reporters and ordinary citizens who dare to dissent, they need a guild that together fights for the prevalence of Human Rights and Democracy”.

The National Association of Journalists called on its affiliates to activate against the maneuver of the National Assembly
The National Association of Journalists called on its affiliates to activate against the maneuver of the National Assembly

They regret that those who request reform of the Law are groups of people, including journalists, linked to the spheres of power, that they do not speak out “when colleagues have been persecuted, censored, imprisoned or attacked, nor when some independent media outlet has been compulsively closed, nor in the face of the enactment of laws that muzzle and condition freedom of expression, such as the Spring -Me or the one that supposedly fights against Hate”.

The Association of Journalists points out that “beyond our objections to the electoral procedures that led to the formation of the current National Assembly” “So far, the union has not been consulted about the intention to change the legislation that gave rise to the association.”

“Over the last twenty years, the journalistic guild has seen the drastic decrease in independent media outlets, the closing of spaces for opinion, the establishment of a culture of systematic concealment of public information, all of this without raise voices from the institutions called to defend democracy”.

Conatel has closed or censored hundreds of media outlets and radio and television programs
Conatel has closed or censored hundreds of media outlets and radio and television programs

“We have seen the reporter become a target of war by factors of power and ideological groups that are enemies of free expression and the right of Venezuelans to speak, hear and investigate in the public sphere without restrictions or prior censorship. We have witnessed the silence of those who, directly or indirectly, have had the opportunity to oppose impunity in cases of aggression against social communicators, attacks that we have opportunely denounced before national and international organizations. It is those groups and those same factors that are trying to change the law,” highlights a CNP statement.

That is the difference

Journalist Humberto Contreras, who has been a director of the Association of Journalists in Táchira, head of media, correspondent and reporter, said about what was stated by deputy María Carolina Chávez: “The intellectual quality of those who are going to study the reform of the LEP is seen in the words of this lady. How is she going to say that La Ley dates from the times when the media were made in typography and you had to close the newsroom at midnight?

Contreras responded to parliamentarian Chávez González: “The Law on the Exercise of Journalism dates from December 1994. But just for one example that I know of, Diario La Nación has been done in offset since its first edition, December 1968″.

Humberto Contreras makes strong points to the intentions to reform the LEP
Humberto Contreras makes strong points to the intentions to reform the LEP

He recalled when the 4F Coup occurred, which had Hugo Chávez as one of the leaders: “Diario Pueblo, the newspaper where I worked, even though it was a provincial newspaper, was the only newspaper in the entire country that published, in its normal edition, the news; and the blow was precisely after midnight, that is, it was not closed”.

“That deputy lady ignores that many times, in the middle of printing a newspaper, they give the order to stop the machine because there is breaking news. She also ignores, supine ignorance, that the media today complement each other. The media on the web pave the immediacy of the information, and the others provide all the information. That’s journalism.”Contreras said.

“He says that the law must be adjusted to changing times, because journalism has changed. The truth is that journalism remains the same, from the heralds of early times: look for information with certain indications, and spread it with adherence to the greatest possible truth. It does not matter what medium is used to spread it. What has changed is the way of doing journalism, of disseminating information, and the means through which information is disseminated have changed, that is, journalism is done. What else can change journalism as such?”, he added.

Contreras pointed out that “Journalism is not a sport that anyone can practice with all rights. Journalism is a serious responsibility before the public in its right to be informed in a timely and truthful manner, which requires ethics and academic training to know how to process the information that is received, and disseminate it without creating ‘dents’ in society”.

As an example, he pointed out what is happening with “the fake news pandemic that floods social networks, where there is no control over who writes, or responsibility for what they write; It does not matter if it is falsehood or the damage it can cause. Compulsory membership makes each journalist responsible for what she disseminates as information.”

This is the commission that seeks to reform the Journalism Law
This is the commission that seeks to reform the Journalism Law

He also highlighted what the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela establishes in its statement of reasons, on education and work as the fundamental processes to guarantee the purposes of the State. “So trying to repeal the obligation to study, when it is already a Law of the Republic, is to go against the very essence of the Constitution.”

The Law on the Exercise of Journalism “was analyzed article by article before the nullity request made by media businessmen, and the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ), chaired by Iván Urdaneta, ruled that the Law is fully constitutional, that is, that does not violate any right to anyone”.

“The ruling of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights regarding the Costa Rica Journalism Association Law, expresses in its decision the following: the association of Journalism, as long as it does not prevent citizens from exercising their right to freedom of expression, it is not contrary to the principles of the American Convention.”

Contreras insists on remembering that “Article 4 of the LEP states that all citizens, nationals or foreigners, can express themselves freely through the means of social communication, with no more limitations than those established in the Constitution and the Laws.”

“You have to understand that journalism is not in itself freedom of expression. The concept of this human right expresses that all citizens have the right to express their thoughts, through any means at their disposal. Well, it is obvious that any citizen, without restrictions, can go to a journalist, to a media outlet to present their opinion or information. In other words, journalism (and the journalist) is a means to exercise, through it, freedom of expression”, concluded Contreras.

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