31 January 2014
Bishops in Venezuela urge state to ease shortage of newsprint
The Church has urged the Government in Caracas to act to prevent newspapers from closure. Shortages of imported paper mean dailies, such as El Nacional – Venezuela’s most widely read newspaper – have already been forced to cut down their circulation.
The Archbishop of Caracas, Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, warned the issue infringed Venezuelans’ constitutional rights. Dwindling paper stocks mean newspapers will be unable to perform their “very important” function in a free and democratic country, he said. “The closure of a newspaper is something terrible! We cannot sink into the darkness of misinformation, this problem must be solved as soon as possible,” he warned.
Critics of the Government have accused it of attempting to stifle dissent. President Nicolas Maduro and his predecessor, Hugo Chávez, have successfully fought TV and radio companies over critical output by threatening to withdraw their licenses; newspapers have largely retained their independence.
Some Venezuelan publications are now only published online but internet use is limited by the cost of computers and there are fears that the Government will seek to censor content published online.
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