Venezuelans Protest Journalist Beatings

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On Thursday, Chavez Supporters Attacked Venezuela's Journalists

Twelve Venezuelan journalists handing out leaflets in favor of press freedom were injured on Thursday by supporters of leftist President Hugo Chavez.

Marcos Ruiz, a reporter for Caracas daily Ultimas Noticias, was punched and beaten with clubs by at least four assailants, colleague Gledys Pastrana told Efe.

She said Ruiz was taken to the emergency room.

All of the journalists who were handing out leaflets to motorists and pedestrians on a busy street in the capital are employees of the Cadena Capriles group, one of Venezuela’s biggest media companies.

Besides Ultimas Noticias, Capriles publishes two business newspapers: El Mundo Economia and Negocios, and the sports daily Lider.

The Chavez partisans arrived on the scene shouting “revolution” and “this street belongs to the people” and then pounced on the journalists, Pastrana said.

Noticias 24 has photos of the beatings of the journalists, including this one:


The beaten journalists were handing out flyers opposing the new education law that has a provision outlawing reports that "produce terror" among children or incite hate (a provision similar to the Special Law Project Against Media Crimes). The education law was approved on Friday morning among protests: The Ley Orgánica de Educación (Organic Education Law) was strongly opposed and demonstrators on both sides had gathered in front of the National Assembly building. Police fired tear gas into the crowd (BBC News video here).

After the National Assembly's approval of the law, Hugo Chávez condemned the violence against the journalists and declared that "the law will allow us to speed up and deepen the revolutionary process,"

"This law opens the way for the liberation education. There are many chains to break, the ones of colonialism and cultural backwardness, for the deep revolution, the creation of the new man and new woman, the socialist revolution."
He signed the law in a public ceremony. The law becomes effective following its publication in the National Gazette

On Friday, journalists demonstrated in support of the beaten journalists:

In turn, the state prosecutor, Luisa Ortega Díaz, refused to meet with the journalists who came to protest the beatings, claiming that "they behaved more as political spokesmen than as journalists, for which they should resign their jobs as journalists."

On Saturday, a suspect was arrested and charged for the Thursday beatings.

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