VENEZUELA, FREEDOM OF THE PRESS UNDER ATTACK, 22 FOREIGN JOURNALISTS BANNED The journalists were to report news that the President of the Asemblea Nacional is allegedly involved in a drug cartel

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Freedom of the press in Venezuela is again under attack, and some local media have claimed that the strategy of President Nicolas Maduro-together with Diosdato Cabello,leader of the military wing and President of the Asemblea Nacional-appears to have put in place for about two years, resembles a lot to that adopted during the dictatorship of Hugo Chavez. Twenty-two journalists who were banned from leaving Venezuela,on the orders of Judge Maria Eugenia Núñez, who were denounced by Cabello for defamation for having reported the news that he is allegedly involved in drug trafficking.

The “Sociedad Intramericana de Prensa” (Sip)-an Association of publishers, journalists and directors with at least 1300 members-has strongly condemned the ban issued by the judge, pointing out that this decision “shows once again how the Venezuelan legal system is used as a tool of political power”.

The three cited media sources, reported the news that placed Cabello as one of the leaders of the “Cartel de Los Soles” which trade in cocaine into Venezuela, information is based on statements of the military Leamsey Salazar, head of security of Cabello.

According to the President of the Sip, Gustavo Mohme, they will be moving “towards what will not be a fair trial”. “The proceedings”, emphasises the Association of publishers-“are contrary to the principles established by the Court” Intramericana on Human rights whichstipulates that “the media cannot be held responsible for publishing accurate information that were originally disseminated by other media.”

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