The Latin American Federation of Journalists (FELAP) officially re-accepted Venezuela as a member of its 16-country organization last weekend during the convening of its 11th Congress in the city of Caracas.
A declaration released by the FELAP declared Venezuela’s admittance a “recognition not only of Venezuelan journalists but also the deep economic, social, political and cultural changes that have been produced and promoted by the Bolivarian Revolution in Latin America and the Caribbean”.
Venezuela had been expelled from the UNESCO affiliated organization in 2004 after members of its National Press Club (CNP) participated in an attempted coup d’etat against democratically elected president, nHugo Chavez, in 2002.
For Communication Minister Andres Izarra, the admission of his country’s Platform of Journalists into the FELAP represents an opportunity for the press federation to take greater advantage of the kind of grassroots media organizations proliferating in Venezuela and around Latin America.
“This process of popular democracies that has been going on in Latin America has given the FELAP new air and new force. It’s of great importance that the FELAP celebrate the journalists who have made history in the struggle for freedom of expression and the struggle for the right to popular communication. It is this struggle that has been going on for years and that we are only now starting to
see bear fruit”, Izarra said.
In its declaration, made public on Sunday, the FELAP also called for an end to various manifestations of global terrorism including those forms originating in state repression, free-market economics, and the manipulation of mass media.
The declaration drew special attention to the cases of Mexico, Honduras, Paraguay, and Colombia where journalists face increased danger due to “a perverse circle of crime and impunity” organized by mafias and aided by public officials.
“There are massacres in Mexico, Honduras and Colombia. These are three countries where there is a permanent persecution, threatening, and killing of journalists”, FELAP President Juan Carlos Camano said, citing the more than 100 press members who have been murdered in Mexico in the past 12 years.
National and transnational corporations came under additional fire by the group, which denounced “policies that, at the order of controlling interests, manipulate information and communication on a mass scale with the aim of creating the objective and subjective conditions for preserving the interests of the privileged sectors of society”.
According to Nelson del Castillo, Secretary General of the federation, media communication should be carried out by people, not the private sector that owns a majority of outlets.
“The great problem that journalists face is that we hold a truth that is spread out while we’re facing a lie that is packaged and delivered very well”, the Secretary General said.
To fight this, FELAP members resolved to strengthen regional unity and push for a progressive agenda in the multilateral organizations that have arisen in Latin America over the past decade including the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), the Union of South American Nations (Unasur), and the Latin American and Caribbean Community of States (Celac).
Del Castillo also called attention to the ample freedoms that exist in Venezuela and condemned contrary allegations emanating from private media outlets as hypocritical.
“Those who say there is no freedom of expression in Venezuela don’t only lie but those who exercise their profession in an overwhelming and abusive way many times discredit their very journalistic ethics. They know that in Venezuela there is freedom of press and expression. If not, they wouldn’t be acting that way”.
The FELAP was founded in 1976 and includes more than 80,000 affiliated journalists. Apart from the re-admittance of Venezuela, last weekend’s congress also saw the acceptance of the 105-year old Chilean press group, Journalist’s Circle, into the federation.