Reporters Without Borders

New Year’s Day attack on TV station by radical pro-Chávez group

Published on Friday 2 January 2009.
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Reporters Without Borders condemns yesterday’s tear-gas grenade attack on the Caracas headquarters of privately-owned TV news station Globovisión. It has been claimed by La Piedrita, a radical group based in the west Caracas slum of 23 de Enero that has claimed previous attacks on news media critical of President Hugo Chávez’s government.

“La Piedrita has yet again acted on its insane view that certain privately-owned media should be regarded as ‘military targets’,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The government disowned the group’s stance after a physical attack on Globovisión journalists in October but its disavowal should have been followed by judicial measures and yesterday’s attack shows they have been too long in coming. Those responsible for yesterday’s incident must be identified and brought to justice before they do anything irreparable.”

The tear-gas grenade was thrown at the Globovisión building by two individuals on a motorcycle. It went off after landing on the roof and discharged tear gas into an air-conditioning duct with the result that the building had to be evacuated. Leaflets signed by La Piedrita, criticising Globovisión and the daily El Nacional, were found at the scene.

A radically pro-Chávez group, La Piedrita has in the past four months been responsible for two similar attacks on Globovisión, an attack on the daily El Nuevo País and an attack on the home of Globovisión reporter Marta Colomina. The government condemned the group’s “political infantilism” after it attacked a Globovisión crew that was covering a demonstration in 23 de Enero.

President Chávez regards Globovisión as a “coup monger” and “traitor to the motherland” and had an administrative investigation brought against the station for alleged “violation of the electoral law” after regional elections on 23 November. The move has been widely criticised, including by members of the National Electoral Council.

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