Prize given to journalist for video used in coup against Chavez could be revoked

"An error could have been made by giving the prize to that Venezuelan journalist", according to member of the board of directors of the King of Spain Prize of Journalism.

Madrid, Sep, 17.- Miguel Gozalo Angel, member of the board of directors of the King of Spain Prize of Journalism (Premio Rey de España), and who is also the president of the Spanish news agency EFE, admitted this Wednesday that “an error could have been made by giving the prize to the Venezuelan journalist (Luis Alfonso Fernandez), because according to his statements in a Venezuelan court, he could not see if the pro-Chavez demonstrators seen on his video making gun shots, were shooting at a peaceful [opposition] march”.

Gozalo Angel made this statement after meeting with the Venezuelan National Assembly deputies, Francisco Solórzano, Héctor Vargas, Calixto Ortega and Ibrahím Velasquez, at EFE’s main headquarters in Madrid, Spain.

He said that the Venezuelan institutions should request a thorough investigation so the prize could be revoked. “But I believe that he is better to leave it as it is so that the remedy is not worse than the disease”.

Gozalo said that “it is possible that we committed some errors, but of course it isn’t our intention to specially favor anybody with this type of prize. I have followed the controversy from very far away. In any case, there has been no political intention, but we lamented any error committed.

On the other hand, in spite of the “suspicions” regarding the participation of the director of the Venezuelan opposition newspaper El Nacional, who was part of the jury of the Premio Rey de España at the time that the prize was granted to Fernandez, Gozalo said that the jurors are chosen alphabetically and randomly in each country, and in this case it was a “mere coincidence”.


Earlier this year, Venezuelan journalist Luis Alfonso Fernandez, received the Premio Rey de España for shooting the video that shows pro-Chavez demonstrators firing guns against an unspecified target on April 11, 2002, the day of the coup d´ tat against President Chavez. Fernandez’s video was used by the Venezuelan mainstream media to claim that the shots were being aimed at innocent opposition demonstrators, and that the injured and death that day were caused by these shoots. The Venezuelan mainstream media, which spent that and the previous two days broadcasting only anti government propaganda and news, immediately accused President Chávez of ordering his followers to shoot at opposition demonstrators. Those images were pivotal for the success of the coup.

Early today, the men accused of some of the deaths that occurred that day, were acquitted of all the charges. The defense successfully made the claim that the accused were firing at the Metropolitan Police (controlled by opposition Mayor of Gran Caracas), and against sharpshooters hiding in adjacent buildings. The fact that most of those dead were Chavez’s supporters and that the shoots were aimed at the head, helped their case.

A trial against Metropolitan Police officers accused of some of the deaths that day, will begin in a month, according to lawyer Fabián Chacón.

Information from Venpres was used in this report