Venezuela - Shooting attack against regional daily's outspoken columnist

    MONTREAL, Sept. 29 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders calls for a
thorough investigation into a shooting attack in which newspaper columnist
Eliécer Calzadilla was seriously injured in Ciudad Bolivar, in the eastern
state Bolivar, on 27 September. Calzadilla, who writes for the Correo del
Caroni, a regional daily based in the nearby city of Puerto Ordaz, is no
longer in a critical condition.
    "Although Calzadilla seems to have been the target of an attempted
contract killing, there is not yet any evidence that the motive was
political," Reporters Without Borders said. "It is however already clear that
the motive was not robbery and allowing this shooting to go unpunished would
probably encourage journalists to censor themselves for their own protection."
    The press freedom organisation added: "We therefore urge the Bolivar
state authorities to lose no time in carrying out a proper investigation.
Bringing Calzadilla's would-be killers to justice would help to defuse the
high degree of tension that exists at the nation level between President Hugo
Chavez's government and the privately-owned press (see 25 September release)."
    Calzadilla, 56, and his wife were returning to their car after visiting a
cinema on the evening of 27 September when two gunmen opened fire and then
fled on a motorcycle. One of the shots hit Calzadilla in the back of his neck,
severing a vertebra. Rushed to a hospital intensive care unit, he is now out
of danger but will probably have to undergo an operation to remove the bullet.
    Calzadilla managed to dictate his weekly column to his daughter from his
hospital bed. In the column, which was published yesterday, he said the gunmen
clearly intended to kill him as they did not say a word and did not try to rob
anything from him or his wife. His colleagues, including the newspaper's
editor, David Natera Febles, believe he was the target of an attempted
contract killing.

    A lawyer by training and a contributor to the Correo del Caroni for more
than 20 years, Calzadilla often criticises corruption and government abuses in
Bolivar state in his columns. The Correo del Caroni is itself also very
critical of the government and has received threats in the past.

For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, Executive Director,
Reporters Without Borders Canada, (514) 521-4111,

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