Saturday, November 9, 2013

Venezuela: Miami Herald Bureau Chief Detained by Venezuelans In Retaliation of Reporting

According to The Latin American Tribune, Jim Wyss, The Miami Herald Andean bureau chief, was detained by Venezuelan authorities Thursday (November 7) while reporting on the country’s chronic shortages and looming municipal elections and was still being as of Saturday morning (November 9). 

Consequently, international journalists are calling on the government of President Nicolás Maduro to promptly release journalist Wyss.

Wyss is based in Bogotá, from where he travels around Latin America. He was detained last night in San Cristóbal in the Venezuelan state of Táchira, where he was reporting on upcoming municipal elections and the shortage of basic consumer goods, the latter of which have a recurring problem throughout the country.

Wyss was transferred this afternoon to Caracas and remains in jail. Official sources of the Venezuelan National Guard, the Military Intelligence Headquarters and the newspaper itself were not able to provide any information about whether Wyss will be released or face charges. He is meanwhile being held in solitary confinement.

Claudio Paolillo, chairman of the International American Press Association (IAPA)’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, also called on Venezuelan authorities for the “immediate release of the journalist” and said he was bewildered by a “new demonstration of intolerance by a regime that day after day shows its contempt for the work of journalists and freedom of the press.”

COMMENT: The last report by Wyss on Venezuela published some days ago by THE MIAMI HERALD and EL NUEVO referred to political and diplomatic disagreements between United States and Venezuelan authorities.

Last week, three journalists for the Caracas daily, "2001," were attacked and arrested for several hours while covering a Caracas Christmas Fair just as the people lining up to buy goods at a Mercal government supermarket broke down the security barriers and began looting. Maduro insisted that the journalists had been sent to "provoke violence."

The Maduro government increasingly has show an intolerance for members of the media, despite the fact that journalists have been telling only the truth in terms of how Venezuela's Socialistic government continues to unravel, both politically and economically.

As I have said in the past, not only does Venezuela have an inept and corrupt police system, but violent crime in the country is one of the worst in the region.

No doubt, foreign journalists will be watching how the Venezuelan government handles Mr. Wyss. Obviously, if Wyss continues to be kept in custody, this will be a clear signal to all foreign journalists that the Maduro government has declared all foreign journalists as radioactive.