Venezuela: Problem with government exchange controls prevents regional opposition daily from publishing



    MONTREAL, Dec. 11 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders is worried by
the announcement that the Correo del Caroni, a regional daily based in the
eastern city of Ciudad Guayana, will not be able to appear tomorrow or on
subsequent days because it has been unable to obtain US dollars to pay for
imported newsprint.
    Editor David Natera blames the government's exchange control system,
which forces private-sector companies to address all requests for foreign
currency to a single government entity, the Currency Managment Commission
(CADIVI).
    "This case is not the first of its kind and it is rather surprising that
media companies are been denied the currency they need to pay for imported
newsprint or printing costs," Reporters Without Borders said. "Producing a
newspaper is expensive and the authorities must be aware of that. The CADIVI
has still not responded to the Correo del Caroni's request. We call on the
head of the commission, Manuel Barroso, to do what is necessary to get things
moving and to allow the Correo del Caroni to resume publishing.
    The press freedom organisation added: "We hope that exchange controls,
like the allocation of state advertising, has not been turned into a way of
penalizing publications for their editorial policies."
    In a note to its readers posted on its website today, the Correo del
Caroni said tomorrow's issue would not be on sale in news stands but would be
available on the Internet. The newspaper's management accused the government
of refusing, through the CADIVI, to release the amount in dollars it ows to
DIPALCA, a company that imports newsprint from Chile.
    Natera told Reporters Without Borders he has raised the problem with
certain officials but so far without success. Natera is also president of the
Venezuelan Press Bloc, an association of some 40 provincial newspapers that
support the opposition.
    El Impulso, a daily based in the northwestern city of Barquisimeto,
reported last month that it had not received the foreign currency it needed to
import newsprint for the past four months. Its editor, Carlos Eduardo Carmona,
accused the government of using exchange controls as a "political weapon"
against the media.




For further information:

For further information: Emily Jacquard, secretary general, Reporters
Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4208, Fax: (514) 521-7771,
rsfcanada@rsf.org

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