Mérida, 5th March 2014 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan opposition protesters in Caracas attacked three journalists following a march demanding “greater freedom of the press”. Meanwhile, barricades in Tachira state have claimed another life.
Luis Gutierrez Camargo was killed instantly during a collision with an opposition roadblock in Tachira state yesterday, communication minister Delcy Rodriguez announced via Twitter.
Rodriguez condemned the use of street barricades, describing them as “murderous methods”.
“Were the violent ones who organised these barricades unaware that they can end the life of another person? This is a protest?” Rodriguez stated.
Tachira has been an epicentre of anti-government protests for over a month, with violent groups bringing much of the state to a standstill. President Nicolas Maduro announced on Tuesday that he would establish a peace conference within the state.
Rodriguez has also announced that three journalists have been “assisted and protected by the National Guard” in Caracas, after one was beaten with a lead pipe by violent opposition demonstrators yesterday.
Photojournalist Cristian Hernandez stated via Twitter he is “fine” after being repeatedly struck with the pipe while covering the protest. He stated he was wearing a helmet at the time, and was rescued by co-workers and “several” other protesters.
Two other journalists were reportedly attacked during the incident, and Hernandez has said that he lost a camera.
The journalist had reportedly been working in the area for several days, and suggested via Twitter that the attack was in response to the arrest of a demonstrator on Monday. According to Hernandez's tweet, the attackers blamed him for the arrest.
All three journalists work for private media outlets. Dagne Cobo Buschbeck, a Caracas-based photojournalist who was on the scene, tweeted of the incident, “AFP, EFE, Reuters, Cadena Capriles, [and] Bloque Desarmes ALL attacked... they protest for freedom of expression and against censorship, and they attack photo-journalists with blows for no reason? Where’s the coherence?”
According to Venezuelan newspaper Ultimas Noticias, several journalists who have been working in the area decided not to cover the protests in the Altamira area of the capital tomorrow out of concern for their security.
The incident follows a reportedly peaceful opposition march on Tuesday in Caracas for “greater media freedom”. During Tuesday's protest, opposition groups marched through the capital condemning what they argue is the “censorship” of their protests in public and private media, and demanded the government allow “greater freedom of speech”.
Last week eight foreigners including two journalists were arrested during a violent protest in Caracas, according to state broadcaster VTV. They have since been released.