JANUARY 14, 2005
Posted: February 2, 2005

Daniel Ortiz Millán, “En Positivo”

Ortiz, a radio host with the Geomar 105.1 FM station in the city of Punta de Mata, in the eastern state of Monagas, was attacked by supporters of the local mayor after he discussed an electoral dispute on the air. He also received threats from unknown callers.

Ortiz told CPJ that a crowd of people supporting Mayor Àngel Centeno blocked him from entering the station around 7 a.m. They said they wouldn’t allow him to do his radio program because he was broadcasting information that was disrupting public order. They pushed him and threw paint at him, he said.

He said the attackers threatened to take him to Plaza Bolívar, about four blocks from the station, and subject him to what they called “people’s revolutionary justice.” Ortiz said police came, cordoned off the area, and took him to a police station.

The day before the attack, Ortiz discussed on the air local news reports that Venezuela’s Electoral National Council (CNE) had given Centeno a deadline to present evidence of his party’s alliance with the ruling Movimiento Quinta República (MVR) party. Centeno, a leader of a small evangelical party who ran as the candidate of a pro-government coalition, narrowly defeated an opposition candidate in the October 2004 regional elections. The CNE is considering an appeal by Centeno’s rival, who claims that Centeno shouldn’t have received the votes cast for the MVR.

Ortiz hosted the opinion program “En Positivo” (In Positive), which aired from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. Monday through Friday and discussed the news covered in national and local papers each day. He said his guests included politicians, priests, and community leaders in Punta de Mata. He produced the show on a time slot leased from the station.

At the request of the station’s director, Ortiz said, he took his program off the air temporarily. Since the attack, he said, he has received threatening text messages on his cell phone, and unidentified callers have left threatening telephone messages at the station.

Later the day of the attack, Ortiz filed a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office in the city of Maturín, the state capital, and gave a statement to the police. He said he had identified two of his attackers by name.