El Nacional, the biggest critical newspaper in Venezuela, was forced to end print publication, in a clear expression of Nicolás Maduro´s unrelenting attacks on the freedom of the press, in his eagerness to monopolize information.
In response to this anti-democratic villainy, El Nacional asure its readers and the international community that the newspaper will continue with its core mission to hold the powerful accountable, with high-quality coverage, and to fight for civil liberties.
El Nacional executives made the dramatic decision to end print its print edition considering this as an opportunity to strengthen the newspaper online edition, standing firm in its reputation as the last independent newspaper in Venezuela that will also continue to fight Maduro regime´s pressure to silence its coverage.
We stand in solidarity with El Nacional and its fight for freedom of expression and the core mission of journalism. Restricting the free circulation of information and opinions hurts society and so does the concentration of political power in a few hands. We repudiate Maduro dictatorship´s economic and legal pressures intended to undermine the independence of the newspaper or to close it.
The newspaper ended its print edition unable to source newsprint which is imported and controlled by Maduro regime. Printing became a daily odyssey due to the lack of foreign currency that led to a reduction in circulation. El Nacional could withstand the lack of newsprint for a while, with the help of other newspaper, until its last print edition last Friday, December 14.
The international community that advocates for civil rights should work to end these practices that Maduro is imposing on the press with the intention to strangle independent newspapers. After 75 years of uninterrupted print edition, El Nacional became his latest victim.
And this happened amid government pressures and attempts to block reports on the Venezuela´s crisis and poverty. More than two million Venezuelans have left the country.
According to its recent report on Venezuela –dated October 5-, the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) said that “51 media stopped operating in the country last year due to sanctions, economic problems and lack of inputs such as newsprint -which is monopolized by the state.”
Others, like El Nacional, fought to survive. Founded in 1943 by Miguel Otero Silva, the newspaper has always been a window for independent journalism in Venezuela and a thorn in the side of all governments, whether they were democratically elected governments or dictatorships. It was awarded the Venezuela´s National Journalism Prize in 1959, 1977, 1981 and 2000. They launched their online edition in 1994.
Their fight will represent a incessant challenge to the government´s intention to control information.
There are no doubts about the goverment´s intentions to control information through closures and investors friendly to Maduro. They already control radio and TV. Journalist who do not follow the dictatorship´s rules are subject to arbitrary arrests and in the case of foreign reporters, they are expelled from the country. They are Maduro regime´s tactics to silence the coverage of the reality in Venezuela, meaning chronic shortages and hyperinflation among many other hardships that Venezuelans are suffering due to the failure of a regime turning 2 decades this year.
El Nacional is also facing costly legal actions related to its coverage on the Venezuelan reality. Now, they will face new pressures and blocks from the CANTV, Venezuela National Telecommunications Company. But despite this, the online edition will represent a formidable platform to keep telling the world what Venezuela is going through. We stand in solidarity with them in their efforts for the return of democracy.
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