Saturday, October 16, 2021

Venezuelan reporters push past police to enter parliament

Caracas, Jun 4 (EFE).- A group of reporters backed by several opposition lawmakers forced their way into Venezuela’s National Assembly after more than a month of being kept out by police.

Led by the National Press Workers Union (SNTP), the reporters broke through the security cordon by pushing past some officers lined up in front of an entrance to the Federal Legislative Palace.

Also on hand were several lawmakers who helped the journalists get into the building after a brief argument with the police.

“Today, by a decision, and I have to say it, of the lawmakers of the National Assembly, we have finally been able to enter the building and do the work we are supposed to do,” said the president of the SNTP, Marco Ruiz.

The legislators welcomed the press, while accusing the government of President Nicolas Maduro of seeking to censor the news.

Entry of the Venezuelan press into the National Assembly was blocked following the failed military uprising of April 30, 2019, led by assembly speaker Juan Guaido, who had proclaimed himself interim president of Venezuela on Jan. 23.

Since then, the legislature has been heavily guarded by security forces on days when sessions were programmed.

On one occasion, even lawmakers were unable to enter the seat of the legislature because of an alleged bomb alert inside the building.

The United States is among the more than 50 nations who recognize Guaido as Venezuela’s head of state. The 140-plus countries who continue to recognize the Maduro government include Russia, China and India.

The SNTP has warned on multiple occasions about the violation of freedom of speech in Venezuela while denouncing aggression against journalists.

According to the union, press freedom in Venezuela was the target of at least 2,020 attacks between January 2013 and December 2018. Every year, Paris-based Reporters Without Borders publishes an international Press Freedom Index.

Venezuela is ranked 148th out of 180 countries on the 2019 list.

The Latin American that fared best was Costa Rica, which sits in the 10th spot, ahead of Canada, the United States and several European nations.