Venezuelan weekly reopens, executives still charged

New York, August 30, 2011–The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned by ongoing criminal cases against two executives from the Venezuelan newspaper 6to Poder, but welcomes a judge’s decision to allow the weekly to resume publishing. The paper’s owner and a top executive were charged last week with inciting hatred, insulting a public official, and publicly denigrating women.

On Monday, Judge Denisse Bocanegra lifted a week-old court ruling banning distribution of the paper after it published a satirical article that was deemed offensive to women and public officials, according to the local press. However, defense lawyer Pedro Aranguren told The Associated Press that the weekly was still prohibited from referring to the case in print or from publishing any content deemed offensive to women or public officials.

“We welcome the lifting of the ban on 6to Poder as the first step toward justice in the case,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior Americas program coordinator. “Prosecutors must now drop all charges against its staff.”

The newspaper’s top executive, Dinorah Girón, was arrested on August 21 and released two days later, Silvia Alegrett, president of the local journalist group Colegio Nacional de Periodistas, told CPJ. But Girón must appear in court every 15 days and is forbidden to talk to the media about the case, Alegrett said. According to press reports, a warrant has been issued for the arrest of Leocenis García, the newspaper’s owner. García, who is in hiding, said he would turn himself in if the newspaper was allowed to reopen, press reports said.

On August 20, the weekly published an article titled “Las poderosas de la revolución bonita” (The Powerful Women of the Beautiful Revolution), in which several high-ranking female judges and officials in President Hugo Chávez’s administration were described as having specific functions in a “cabaret directed by Mr. Chávez,” press reports said. The story was accompanied by a photo montage that superimposed the officials’ heads onto the bodies of cabaret dancers.