Venezuela Restricts Free Circulation of Information

Fundación LED (Libertad de Expresión + Democracia) is deeply concerned about the aggravated restrictions imposed on freedom of expression and on freedom of press in the Republic of Venezuela.

The creation of a new agency empowered to monitor any information broadcasted in the country and to restrict its circulation to the extent of considering it privileged is a clear violation of international principles concerning freedom of expression.

In the event such agency took action in accord with the powers vested on it, the agency would simply be a true office of censorship.

The Strategic Center for Homeland Security and Protection (Centro Estratégico de Seguridad y Protección de la Patria [CESPPA]), is inspired in the Centro de Estudio Situacional de la Nación (the center for national situational research) created in 2010 and challenged by the Association of Journalists of Venezuela at the Supreme Court of Justice of that country.

Agencies of this type,vested withspecial powers under the pretext of safeguarding national security against foreign and domestic threats, therefore enabling the agencies to restrict the free circulation of ideas, are typical of low quality democracies.

The context in which the agency was created is a source of even greater worries. Indeed, Venezuela´s Executive Branch has decided that agency operations will start at once and has issued an Executive Order to that effect, despite the fact that Parliament is still debating its existence. A general, a member of the Bolivarian militia involved in Venezuela´s intelligence,is in charge.

At the same time, the president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, has publicly requested the imprisonment of the journalists of Diario2001because of the headlines published in the front page on October 10 stating that there is a fuel shortage in the country.

Several organizations defending basic rights in Venezuela have declared they are against this new agency, and the international community has also expressed its rejection, which our Foundation has subscribed to.

Where freedom of press and of expression is concerned, this type of agencies has aggravated the difficult situation in Venezuela in particular, and in the region in general. We need to generate awareness of the serious consequences it has on the development of democratic societies.

Together with other institutions in the region devoted to safeguarding human rights, Fundación LED shall keep on working at spreading and upholding elemental principles guaranteeing democratic coexistence.