The “information drought” will deepen in the regions if chavismo approves a reform to the Journalism Law

Entrevista Andrés Cañizales, periodista y doctor en ciencias políticas. Director de Medianalisis






The journalistic guild is once again being harassed. In recent years, the media and journalists have been constantly intimidated by the regime’s outrages.

By Lismar Hernandez /

The latest threat was launched on July 13th, by the Permanent Commission on Communications Media of the illegitimate National Assembly: the proposed reform of the Law on the Exercise of Journalism, supposedly to “adapt it to the new media,” according to Chavismo.

“Popular communicators” was one of the phrases that most caught the attention of public opinion and the journalistic trade union. And it is that the Chavismo deputy, Gabriela Peña, emphasized that for Chávez they are “the journalists who did not go through the academic university, but through the university of life.”

Furthermore, the “La Patilla” team spoke with Andrés Cañizales, journalist, doctor in Political Science and director of Medianalysis, to find out his opinion about the intended reform of the ‘Law on the Exercise of Journalism’ and how the interior regions of the country will be affected, where many printed and audiovisual media have already disappeared and connectivity conditions are precarious, making access to information more complicated.

-What consequences can press workers face if the reform is carried out?

Broadly speaking, what one perceives is that a project like this seeks to de-institutionalize the journalistic guild. I think I would bet on the “we are all journalists”, and although there is an intense international discussion about the incompatibility of compulsory membership laws with freedom of expression, it is a long discussion that has been going on for many years.

I believe that, in the case of Venezuela, the government and because of the experience we already have with it, does not point to a democratization of journalism, which is the discourse that is had with that idea of “we are all journalists”, rather it does point to deinstitutionalize.

It would put an end to those nuclei of critical opinion that many sections of the National Association of Journalists (CNP, Colegio Nacional de Periodistas) have become.

It would affect the leadership of the CNP, journalists in general, press workers, and as this progresses, it will be the break for the takeover of the CNP by sectors related to or favored by the government.

Likewise, Communication Schools (Colleges) would also be affected, since at this moment they are the spaces from which journalists in Venezuela graduate. If “we are all journalists”, it becomes unnecessary to have a university degree. It also loses meaning for a young person or anyone who wants to be in the field of journalism or communication to go through a university. This is another element that we cannot lose sight of.

-How does the reform of the Law of the Exercise of Journalism affect the right to information of the people who live in the most remote towns of Venezuela?

I believe that the reform will have a general impact. The people that live in more remote places, small townships that already suffer from a kind of “information drought”, this would deepen that even more.

In relation to the regions, what seems important to me is the role of journalists’ associations in these sectors. Not all sectionals of the CNP are critical, but there are some, in several states, that maintain a vigilant, critical attitude, denouncing when there are excesses, when there are violations. I believe that those voices in the CNP in the regions will be seriously affected.

-How will information coming from remote and isolated areas, besieged by irregular armed groups, be treated?

We have an enormous asymmetry in the treatment received by regional information in Venezuela, this is an inheritance, even when there were (independent) large media outlets in the country.

Historically, no media has been genuinely national, even when large media such as El Nacional or El Universal had a lot of muscle, there were attempts to make regional editions.

Such is the case of El Nacional, which published an edition in the west of the country, but in terms of coverage, they never had correspondents throughout the country. We have a big problem with these asymmetries, that is, an overrepresentation of what happens in Caracas. This information asymmetry would deepen.

-How can violence and censorship be exercised with impunity in the regions?

If it is possible to break the existence of journalists’ associations in the regions with this law, I think this would have a very clear effect.

We would be in the presence of the possibility of an event occurring in Cojedes (State), which has a very active CNP, where some radio stations were recently closed, that a mobilized CNP local denounced.

Now, if we don’t have a CNP in Cojedes, we won’t have those regional centers to file complaints and let the rest of the country know about it.

-What can the journalistic union do in the face of this new reform?

It seems to me that the union, society, universities and the independent media in the face of this must remain vigilant, denounce the risks this entails and, above all, convey to society something that is important.

All this harassment of the media not only affects journalists, but in return it has an impact on society. The less journalism there is and the more it is under siege, the more threatened and cornered journalism in Venezuela is, the less independent information there will be and, in the end, the one who will be mainly affected is the citizen.

-According to his perception, what else does the Chavista regime want with this reform?

One always wonders what more does the government want, where else is this going? I believe that this reform is complemented by the entire known scenario, of censorship and media blockades, permanent threats, that is, all that climax that we already know.

This is like a leg (of table) that is part of the cornering, the suffocating away life, but in this the government has been intelligent, in the sense that it has not been a total suffocation. It does not “completely kill journalism, it keeps it alive, but immunized.”

I believe that this law points to that, it is one more link in that chain of events aimed at restricting journalism. In this case, I see it more as a threat to the journalistic associations, especially the CNP, the universities, since communication schools have historically had a high demand for students. This could put all that at risk.