Updated October 19, 2017
As the political situation in Venezuela continues to deteriorate, journalists covering protests have been routinely targeted, harassed, attacked, and detained. To provide concrete safety information for local and international journalists covering the unrest, CPJ's Emergencies Response Team is issuing periodic updates on the political situation and the climate for journalists.
This page contains the following information:
- What to expect next
- Press freedom violations
- Political background
- The protests
- The key groups
- Hospitals and other resources
- CPJ's Safety Advisory for journalists covering Venezuela
After months of daily protests and repression, many members of the opposition are exhausted and disillusioned, particularly after failing to stop the constituent assembly vote on July 30, 2017. Opposition candidates suffered widespread losses in gubernatorial elections on October 15, further weakening their political movement.
Now that the assembly has been installed, it is unclear if the opposition will be able to stay unified or what its goals will be going forward. Opposition strategy is evolving. Demonstrations continue, but according to the Caracas-based human rights non-governmental organization Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict, the number of protests decreased by 80 percent from July through the first half of August. Protests are also receiving less attention from international press. On August 30, the U.N. human rights office issued a report that said Venezuelan security forces had committed widespread and deliberate human rights violations in their response to the street protests, according to news reports.
Although protests have diminished, Venezuelan authorities continue to detain civilians. More than 600 people are currently detained, which legal nongovernmental organization Foro Penal, has said raises concerns about human rights violations.
Still, all major cities continue experiencing regular disturbances and road blocks. Caracas continues to be the epicenter of the most violent protests, but violence has also escalated in Maracay, Barquisimeto, Valencia, and Lechería and Puerto la Cruz in Anzoátegui.
Meanwhile, the new constituent assembly has taken steps to consolidate power and weaken the opposition politically.
Journalists covering the protests have been attacked and harassed by all actors involved, though armed civilian groups known as colectivos and Venezuelan state security forces are responsible for the majority of incidents, according to local press freedom organizations. Physical violence against journalists has declined as protests tapered off, but government censorship of radio and TV stations continues to affect the press.
Journalists covering protests in Venezuela generally face the following threats:
- Injuries from tear gas inhalation or from being hit by water cannon, tear gas canisters, ball bearings, marbles, or buckshot.
- Assault by local authorities and their supporters, as well as protesters.
- Theft or destruction of equipment, notably cell phones.
- Detention for time periods ranging from half an hour to more than 24 hours.
National Guard and police have detained journalists covering protests, sometimes for as little as 15 minutes, and sometimes overnight in police or intelligence facilities. In one instance, on May 1, members of a reporting team for the online platform VivoPlay were detained in Caracas. The two VivoPlay reporters were released after several hours, but their drivers remained in detention until June 2, according to media reports. In April, two journalists with French photo agency CAPA were removed from their flight back to France and held for nine days without charge. Venezuelan officials have previously deported international reporters or blocked them from entering the country.
Security forces and colectivos (see section 5 for more details on the actors involved) have threatened and blocked journalists from covering certain locations, confiscated equipment, photographed identification, and detained reporters for multiple hours. Several videos posted by news outlets have documented National Guard officers rolling tear gas canisters in the direction of journalists. One video from VivoPlay shows a National Guard official telling journalists to move away, "or we'll treat you like the guarimberos."--groups of civilians who construct barricades and roadblocks. See section 5 for more details. Journalists should avoid colectivos as much as possible and relocate to a safe location if they encounter them.
Dozens of journalists across the country have reported their cell phones have been stolen by National Guard or police as well as colectivos and civilian gangs. Journalists working in Caracas told CPJ that the theft of phones is so systematic and widespread that it appears to be part of a deliberate strategy to prevent reporters from covering protests. These tactics are especially damaging to freelancers and journalists working for smaller publications outside of Caracas, who have limited resources and rely on their phones as a vital reporting tool.
Meanwhile, protesters have also targeted journalists, robbing them, attacking them, and accusing them of being government sympathizers. Though there are no credible reports of guarimberos directly targeting reporters, journalists should use caution when dealing with them.
In addition to direct physical threat against journalists, the government has censored news outlets.
At least 49 radio stations have been shut down and five international TV channels were removed from national subscription services under government orders, according to a statement from the Office of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
Venezuela's state telecommunications regulator CONATEL ordered two international news channels off the air on April 19, according to the broadcasters, and other outlets have reported service interruptions. On July 13, CONATEL instructed the media not to refer to the referendum as a "popular consultation," which is how the opposition defines it, and informed radio broadcasters that their licenses could be revoked if they appeared to promote or encourage participation in the referendum, according to news reports.
At a press conference on July 28, Tibisay Lucena, president of the National Electoral Council, the entity responsible for overseeing the voting process, announced that media outlets would be required to stay at least 500 meters (approx. 1,600ft) from voting centers. The council also denied credentials to at least nine of the 15 media outlets that requested credentials to cover the July 30 vote, according to the Caracas-based Institute for Press and Society (IPYS Venezuela).
During a television appearance on July 31, President Maduro also called for CONATEL to investigate the privately owned television network Televen for "apologizing for crimes," according to news reports. Maduro criticized Televen for its coverage of the vote, saying the outlet instead preferred to show "the fire in Altamira"--referring to an explosion in a Caracas neighborhood that injured at least three police officers, according to reports.
On August 22, Maduro ordered Reuters reporters based in Venezuela to leave a press conference at the Miraflores presidential palace, the National Union of Press Workers (SNTP) reported. Two days later, CONATEL ordered Colombian TV networks Caracol TV and RCN to be taken off the air indefinitely for broadcasting a message it said incited violence toward Maduro, according to news reports.
IPYS Venezuela, the SNTP, and local press freedom organization Espacio Público have documented hundreds of press freedom violations via Twitter. CPJ is aware of the following serious attacks on journalists covering protests in Venezuela:
Week of October 15
- October 15: Security forces blocked journalists from entering and reporting from voting centers in more than six states across Venezuela, reported Espacio Público. In Táchira, armed civilians stole equipment from VPITV reporter Lorena Bornacelly, according to a tweet from the SNTP. In Guárico state, soldiers ripped up Notipascua photographer Franklin Carrillo's press credential and told him he couldn't vote because he was a member of the media. Various journalists in multiple states were punched and kicked while reporting on scuffles between groups of civilians at voting centers, reported Espacio Público.
- October 16: Opposition supporters used their hands to hit VPITV reporter Carlos Suniaga while he reported on a protest in Bolívar state, reported Espacio Público.
- October 18: Unidentified individuals shot multiple times at the home of radio journalist Felix Amaya, who previously worked at Amanecer Radio in Coro, Falcón state, according to news reports.
Week of October 8
- October 10: Police officers detained freelance radio journalist Isael Madriz while he was covering protests on the Paraguaná peninsula in Falcón state, according to a tweet from Espacio Público.
- October 11: The National Electoral Council (CNE) announced it was opening an investigation into three newspapers in Lara state for publishing surveys about the upcoming elections within a week of the vote, which is prohibited by law, according to news reports.
- October 14: The CNE denied the newspaper El Carabobeño accreditation to cover elections for the first time in 84 years, the outlet reported. Multiple news outlets in Carabobo, Aragua, Sucre, and Táchira states did not received accreditation either, according to IPYS Venezuela.
Week of October 1
- October 4: Unidentified individuals threw a Molotov cocktail at the home of Amanecer Radio journalist Felix Amaya in Coro, Falcón state, reported the SNTP.
- October 6: National Guard officers detained DolarToday reporter Jesús Medina and two international freelance journalists, Roberto Di Matteo and Filippo Rossi, while they were reporting from the Tocorón prison in Aragua state, and confiscated their equipment, according to news reports. A judge on October 8 released all three journalists without charge.
Week of September 17
- September 18: During a patient protest at the Hospital Clínica Universitaria in Caracas, Caraota Digital reporter Jessica Nunes and her cameraman were stopped from covering the event when the hospital director's bodyguard removed the pair from the building, the SNTP reported.
- September 20: Unidentified individuals broke into the National Union of Journalists headquarters in Zulia state, and stole equipment, according to news reports. In Mérida, national police detained Galera 102.1 radio reporter Juan Rojas for three hours in the western town of Tovar, according to Espacio Público. CPJ was unable to determine the reason for his arrest.
Week of September 10
- September 11: During primary elections in Maracaibo, civilians allegedly affiliated with the Un Nuevo Tiempo political party threatened reporters from the regional Version Final newspaper, and threatened a photographer to force her to delete photographs she took of a fight between supporters of different parties at the voting center, the newspaper reported.
- September 16: The national Tal Cual newspaper's website went offline for three days after what the newspaper described as a cyberattack, the SNTP reported.
Week of September 3
- September 3: A Twitter account published personal information and threatening messages directed at four journalists from the investigative news site Armando.Info after the site published an article alleging government corruption, reported Espacio Público.
Week of August 27
- August 28: Armed agents from the national intelligence service (SEBIN) entered the offices of the F.M. Center radio network in Caracas and took a recording of a program in which radio host Caterina Valentino interviewed protesters, reported Espacio Público.
- August 29: Unidentified individuals on a motorcycle threw an explosive into the parking lot of the Versión Final newspaper offices in Maracaibo, damaging multiple vehicles, reported the SNTP.
- August 30: Ultima Hora, a newspaper in the western state of Portuguesa, was forced to stop circulating print copies after the government refused for two months to sell it any newsprint, according to news reports.
- September 1: Authorities at Maiquetía airport denied entry to Gabriela Donoso, a Chilean reporter for Reuters, reported the SNTP.
Week of August 20
- August 23: Airport security officials briefly detained La Verdad de Vargas reporters Luisana Herice and Alexis Chique and ordered them to delete photos they had taken at Maiquetía airport in Caracas, reported Espacio Público.
- August 26: CONATEL ordered two more radio stations--Caracas 92.9 F.M. and Mágica 99.1 F.M.--taken off the air, reported the SNTP.
Week of August 13
- August 18: Unidentified individuals in northwestern Trujillo state threw two petrol cocktails at the offices of radio station Trujillo 102.5, and cut the station's cables, interrupting a broadcast, according to news reports.
Week of August 6
- August 6: Pellets fired by National Guard injured reporters for Caraota Digital and Telemundo and a Univisión cameraman, IPYS Venezuela reported.
- August 8 Mildred Manrique (800 Noticias, Te Lo Cuento News) suffered burns on her leg when police fired a tear gas canister at her at close range, Espacio Público reported.
- August 11: National Guard in the central state of Guárico forced reporters from El Pitazo TV, El Tubazo Digital and La Jornada to delete photos, Espacio Público reported.
Week of July 30
- July 30: Police detained Cambio16 photojournalist Felipe Royet in Caracas, and Las Noticias de Cojedes journalists Brigitte Gerdel and Daniel Rodríguez, in San Carlos, according to the SNTP. National intelligence agency (SEBIN) officials detained Venevisión reporter Euclides Sotillo in Caracas. A video recorded by digital news outlet VivoPlay in the El Paraíso neighborhood of Caracas appeared to show a National Guard soldier threatening to break journalists' equipment if they continued filming. Members of a colectivo threatened freelance photojournalists Fabiola Ferrero and Santiago Escobar and stole their vests, gas masks, helmets, camera equipment, and cell phones, Espacio Público reported. In Altamira, pellets fired by police injured freelance photographer Leonardo Rodríguez, and a tear gas canister hit freelance photographer Ángel Colmenares in the head, the SNTP reported.
- August 1: José Hernández Sequero, a sportswriter for El Nuevo País who went missing the previous night, was found dead on the Central University of Venezuela campus in Caracas, according to news reports. The case is under investigation, but initial reports indicate he was likely the victim of a robbery.
- August 2: President Maduro ordered foreign press banned from covering the swearing-in of constituent assembly members, according to Wall Street Journal reporter Anatoly Kurmanaev.
Week of July 23
- July 24: People claiming to be part of the "Resistance" group threatened El Pitazo TV photographer Rayner Peña and tried to force him to delete footage, reported the SNTP.
- July 26: Police officers detained Héctor Carballo and Maikel Herrera (El Siglo) and forced them to delete footage of protests in Maracay, according to Espacio Público.
- July 27: Airport security, police and National Guard officers blocked reporters Nadeska Noriega (El Pitazo TV), Luisana Brito and Rossmary Hernández (Diario La Verdad de Vargas) from reporting in Maiquetía Airport, the SNTP reported. In Caracas, pellets fired by police hit Univisión cameraman Alejandro Molina multiple times.
Week of July 16
- July 16: In Catia, Vargas state, colectivos beat and robbed Luis Olavarrieta of Caraota Digital, and hit him in the head with a stone, according to news reports.
- July 18: In Caracas, National Guard shot a marble at the lens of photographer Rayner Peña of El Pitazo TV during coverage of a road block, reported the SNTP. In Naguanagua, Carabobo, El Carabobeño editor Carolina González was injured by a tear gas canister, Espacio Público reported.
- July 20: IPYS Venezuela recorded 17 violations of freedom of expression during the national strike. Masked civilians threw bottles at Rafael Hernández (NTN24), tried to steal El Pitazo reporter Elizabeth Ostos's helmet, and threatened to steal freelance photographer Edgar Cárdenas's camera. In Hatillo, National Guard detained two members of a VivoPlay news crew for an hour and a half, and National Guard officers in Caracas attempted to confiscate Analítica reporter Jesús Abreu's gas mask and forced him to delete recorded footage, according to the SNTP.
- July 22: The SNTP reported that eight journalists were injured while covering protests. In separate incidents in Caracas, buckshot fired by the National Guard hit freelance photographer Daniel Blanco, Alonso Moleiro (Unión Radio) and Rafael León (El Nacional), in the head; Mildred Manrique (800 Noticias) in the ankle; and struck a Vente Venezuela photographer in the arm. In Barquisimeto, National Guard officers beat Luis Díaz (La Prensa de Lara), fracturing two of his ribs, and confiscated his camera equipment.
Week of July 10
- July 10: In Altamira, Marcos Bello, of Reuters, and Abraham Tovar, of El Nacional, were injured by shotgun pellets fired by the National Guard, reported the SNTP. In El Trigal, Valencia, an explosive wounded photographer Juan Carlos Hernández, of Últimas Noticias, reported the SNTP. National Guard in El Hatillo arrested Mireya Vivas, of El Hatillano. In a video of her talking about her three-hour detention, she says guards rubbed teargas in her face and beat her.
- July 11: A National Guard colonel refused to allow journalists into the National Assembly, according to news reports.
- July 12: During protests in Lechería, Anzoátegui, Grisnel Guevara of El Tiempo was injured by shotgun pellets, and National Guard beat six reporters, destroyed equipment, and confiscated photojournalist Samir Aponte's memory card, reported IPYS Venezuela. Diosdado Cabello, a member of the National Assembly and one of the top Chavista leaders, said on his weekly television show that an explosion in Altamira that wounded seven members of the military occurred "with the complicity of journalists that were there," echoing an earlier statement by National Guard commander Sergio Rivero accusing journalists of failing to inform authorities about the explosives.
Venezuelan opposition supporters have been protesting against the government of President Nicolás Maduro since late March, when the country's Supreme Court ruled in favor of stripping the opposition-led National Assembly of its lawmaking powers. This wave of anti-government demonstrations, the longest since 2014, has become violent in many parts of the country. As of August 6, the attorney general's office had recorded 121 people killed over 120 days of protests. Of those, 19 percent are younger than 18, and an additional 58 percent are between 18-29 years old. According to the official report, state security forces and armed paramilitary civilian groups are responsible for 65 percent of the deaths.
There are two main parties involved in the current political crisis. One is the governing Socialist Party (PSUV) led by President Maduro, who has attempted to continue the populist Bolivarian Revolution movement of his predecessor Hugo Chávez. The other is the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), a coalition of opposition political parties. Though Venezuela's political opposition has historically been fractured, a March 29 Supreme Court ruling (later reversed) that stripped legislative power from the opposition-led National Assembly inspired disparate factions of MUD to work together in collective opposition to Maduro. MUD has several leaders, including Henrique Capriles, the governor of the northern state of Miranda and a candidate for president; Leopoldo López, a former politician currently under house arrest; and National Assembly President Julio Borges.
The Supreme Court in July granted house arrest on humanitarian grounds to López, who had spent more than three years in the Ramo Verde military prison serving a 14-year sentence for inciting violence.
On July 30, the Venezuelan government held a controversial vote to convene a constituent assembly with the authority to rewrite the country's constitution, which the opposition had used as a rallying point since protests began in April. Despite an opposition-led boycott, the vote went forward, resulting in the election of 545 predominantly pro-Maduro delegates, including first lady Cilia Flores, former National Assembly president Diosdado Cabello and former foreign minister Delcy Rodríguez, now president of the constituent assembly.
Opposition leaders have described the constituent assembly vote as a power-grab and an attempt to interfere with local and national elections previously scheduled for 2017 and 2018, respectively, according to news reports. It is now unclear when these elections will take place, or how the constituent assembly will affect them.
In its first act after convening on August 4, the assembly decided to fire Attorney General Luisa Ortega Díaz, who had emerged as one of the strongest critics of Maduro within the government, replacing her with Tarek William Saab, the former national ombudsman. The assembly has taken additional steps to consolidate power, including establishing a "truth commission" whose responsibilities include investigating opposition candidates running in October's gubernatorial elections to ensure they were not involved in the protests.
Amid reports of rising discontent among members of the armed forces, on June 27 a former police inspector allegedly stole a helicopter and staged a brazen attack on government institutions in Caracas, firing at the Interior Ministry and dropping grenades on the Supreme Court. Tensions escalated further on August 6, when a group of armed men in military uniform attacked the Fuerte Paramacay military base in the northern state of Carabobo, according to press reports. Two people were killed and eight were arrested during the attack. In a video shared on social media, a man who identified himself as retired National Guard Captain Juan Carlos Caguaripano declared that he and the other men were staging a "rebellion" against a "murderous tyranny," according to reports. More than 120 members of the military have been arrested since the protests began in April, according to news reports.
Early demonstrations were organized by the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) and affiliated activists. As the protests have continued, other actions have been sponsored by an increasingly diverse range of organizers, including student groups, teachers and other civilian groups.
Marches normally begin at a predetermined meeting point where protesters gather for two or three hours. They then move toward city centers where government ministry offices are located. Organizers across the country have led recent marches to Public Ministry offices in a show of support for Ortega. Protesters are also holding protests that involve blocking all surrounding streets, which are referred to as trancazos.
In Caracas, the capital, protests have many different route options, but security forces typically stop them after only a short distance. Police and National Guard place barriers, armored vehicles equipped to fire tear-gas canisters, lines of police and soldiers, and vehicles equipped with water cannons.
Around the country, Venezuelan state security forces, including the Bolivarian National Guard (GNB), national police (PNB), and state police, have used tear gas and rubber-coated bullets to disperse crowds. Hundreds of people have been injured and arrested.
In a press conference for international media on June 23, President Maduro stated that he had given a "clear order" to security forces not use firearms against protesters, according to news reports. However, state security forces and armed civilian groups have repeatedly fired live rounds into crowds of demonstrators, resulting in multiple deaths and dozens of injuries. The weekend of the constituent assembly vote was the most deadly stretch to date, with at least 13 people killed in protests and clashes across the country on July 29 and 30, according to reports.
Meanwhile, customs officials have banned the import of protective items used by both journalists and protesters, including helmets, gas masks, and bulletproof vests, according to news reports. The same ban has also blocked imports of first aid supplies and goods used by protesters to protect themselves, such as antacids, eye drops, and stretchers.
The following locations are the sites of most, though not all, of the documented protests and violent incidents. Journalists should take additional precautions when reporting there:
- Caracas: Chacao, Autopista Francisco Fajardo, Las Mercedes, El Rosal, El Paraíso, San Bernardino, Santa Fe, El Valle, La Vega
- Valencia: Avenida Bolívar de Valencia, Distribuidor El Trigal, Sector Mañongo, Urbanización Isabelica of Valencia, Flor Amarillo, Naguanagua, San Diego
- Maracay: Avenida Las Delicias, Avenida Fuerza Aérea, El Limón
- Barquisimeto: El Cardenalito, Los Cardones, Fundalara, Avenida Los Leones, Urbanización Santa Elena, Distribuidora Santa Rosa, Sector Cabudare (Urb La Hacienda, Villa Roca, Hondo), Universidad Fermín Toro, Avenida Libertador, Av. Florencio Jiménez (Urbina)
- Maracaibo: El Milagro, 5 de Julio, Amparo, La Pomona
- San Cristobal
State security forces are responsible for the majority of incidents of harassment, threats, and violence against individual journalists. However, belligerent groups from across the political spectrum are also present at demonstrations or hotspots throughout Venezuela's largest cities.
Many are armed with different types of weapons and all pose a potential threat to journalists. They include pro-government armed groups known as colectivos, which operate sometimes in support of security forces and sometimes alone, and protester barricades, known as guarimbas, which most often appear along main roads and in opposition-friendly neighborhoods.
Colectivos maintain a significant presence at demonstration sites. They primarily consist of former police officers, military, or security service personnel. Members are usually dressed as civilians, though some wear black jackets and masks. They typically carry small arms, though some have also been seen with rifles or machine guns. Colectivo members usually travel in groups of two aboard motorcycles.
Colectivo members have fired directly into protests and are allegedly responsible for a number of protester deaths, according to reports. They have also threatened, physically attacked, and robbed journalists.
On July 5, a group of about 200 Colectivo members attacked the National Assembly building. They trapped more than 300 people in the building, including 108 journalists, 94 deputies and 120 workers, and held them there for more than seven hours, according to news reports. At least 12 people were injured, and digital news outlet Vivoplay reported that members of Colectivos threatened journalists with pipes and rocks and stole cameras, microphones, and other equipment.
Guarimbas, or protest barricades, which first appeared during the 2014 protests, are commonly manned by university or high school students, known as guarimberos. The barricades are made of materials ranging from bags of trash to tree trunks and stolen vehicles, such as trucks or buses, which guarimberos sometimes set on fire. Local reports indicate that some guarimbas in Caracas have included gangs who have extorted drivers and forcefully collected money from passersby. There are also reports of these groups using violence. Some street demonstrations and roadblocks are now led by more radical groups of protesters, who call themselves the "Resistance," rather than those affiliated with the MUD political movement, increasing the possibility of violent confrontations with security forces.
In Caracas, most of the people injured during protests are treated by volunteer field medics (including the Red Cross, Blue Cross and the newly formed Green Cross, which is staffed by medical students). Next, victims are often transferred to medical facilities such as Salud Chacao, or, in the case of serious injuries, to private facilities which have modern equipment and good qualified staff.
CPJ does not recommend that victims go to public hospitals. These hospitals have excellent staff and significant experience with trauma injuries, but currently have very limited equipment and supplies. Patients may have to supply their own bandages, sutures, or even blood.
Below is a list of medical facilities in different locations:
Prolongacion Av. Libertador, con Sorocaima, Urb. El Rosal
Tel: 0212-9532263 / 0212-9537685 / 0212-9538002
Clínica El Ávila
6ta Transversal con Avenida San Juan Bosco, Caracas
4ta. Avenida cruce con Calle 2, Edif. Higea, Urb. Campo Alegre, Caracas
Tel 0212-2016604 / 0212-2016255
Hospital Clínica Caracas
Av. Panteon con Av. Alameda, Urb. Bernandino, Caracas
Centro Medico La Trinidad
Avenida Intercomunal La Trinidad, El Hatillo, Apartado Postal 80474
Ciudad Hospitalaria "Henrique Tejera"
Av. Lisandro Alvarado. Valencia Edo. Carabobo
Tel: 0241-8316551 / 0241-8316662.
Centro Policlínico Valencia C.A. (Clínica La Viña)
Urbanización La Viña, final Av. Carabobo.
Tel: 0241-8236372 / 0241-8239759 / 0241-8236276
Av. Bolívar Norte, Calle López Latouche, Cruz Roja Hospital Luis Blanco Gasperi, Prebo.
Tel: 0241-8214841 / 0241-8215330 / 0241-8239843.
Sociedad Venezolana De La Cruz Roja Del Estado Lara
Avenida Intercomunal de Barquisimeto. Patarata.
Cruz Roja El Trigal Cabudare
Cabudare, Municipio Palavecino, Avenida El Placer, entre Transv. 07, Urbanización El Trigal.
Hospital Central de Barquisimeto
Sede Principal de Hospital Central Universitario Dr. Antonio María Pineda.
Av. Vargas, con Av. Las Palmas, Casco Central.
Tel: 0251-2523301 / 0251-2519498.
Centro de Atención de Emergencia 171
Maracay Avenida Sucre. Urbanización los Olivos Viejos.
Maracay Avenida Mariño diagonal Plaza Girardot.
Tel: 0243-2465358 / 0426-3499406.
Policlínica Maracay, C.A.
Urb. Calicanto, Calle López Aveledo Norte, Número 5 (Frente a la Maestranza).
Centro Médico de Atención Social CANAOBRE
Prolongación de Pérez Almarza, entre Páez y Negro Primero, Maracay, al lado del Banco de Venezuela y Diagonal al Centro Comercial de la Economía Informal, Calle Pérez Almarza.
- Plan the assignment and ensure that you have a full battery on your cell phone. Know the area you are going to. Work out in advance what you would do in an emergency.
- Always try to work with a colleague and have a regular check-in procedure with your base. Particularly if covering rallies or crowd events.
- If going to rallies or crowd events, wear clothing and footwear that allows you to move swiftly. Consider your position--if you can, find an elevated position that would offer greater safety.
- At any location, always plan an evacuation route as well an emergency rendezvous point if you are working with others.
- Remember that crime and kidnapping are a serious problem in Venezuela. Maintain situational awareness at all times and limit valuables you are taking. Do not leave any equipment in vehicles as they are likely to be broken into. After dark, the criminal risk increases dramatically.
- It is sensible to wear personal protective equipment which includes gas masks, eye protection, body armor and helmets. (For visiting journalists, please note there are mixed reports about getting such equipment into the country. Some journalists have entered without issues, but others have had complications entering when identified as journalists. Journalist permits are very difficult to obtain.)
- Venezuelan authorities are using tear gas indiscriminately and there is the possibility of high concentrations of tear gas sitting in areas with no movement of air. Individuals with asthma or respiratory issues should avoid areas where tear gas is being used. Likewise, contact lenses are not advisable.
- If you are exposed to tear gas, try to find higher ground and stand in fresh air to allow the breeze to carry away the gas. Do not rub your eyes or face as this may worsen the situation. Once possible, shower in cold water to wash the gas away from skin, but do not bathe. Clothing may need to be washed several times to rid the crystals completely or even be discarded.
Dealing with aggression:
- Read body language to identify an aggressor and use your own body language to pacify a situation.
- Keep eye contact with an aggressor, use open hand gestures and keep talking in a calming manner.
- Keep an extended arm's length from the threat. Back away, breakaway firmly without aggression if held. If cornered and in danger, shout.
- If working in a crowd, keep to the outside of the crowd and don't get sucked into the middle where it is hard to escape. Identify an escape route, and have a team emergency meeting point if working with others. If aggression increases, keep a hand free to protect your head and move with short, deliberate steps to avoid falling. If in a team, stick together and link arms.
- While there are times when documenting aggression is crucial journalistic work, be aware of the situation and your own safety. Taking pictures of aggressive individuals can escalate a situation.
- Report any aggression to the authorities.
If you are attacked, threatened or otherwise intimidated while covering these events, you can contact CPJ by emailing [email protected].
For more information on basic preparedness, assessing, and responding to risk, or covering safety measures when covering civil conflict and disturbances, we encourage journalists to review CPJ's Journalist Security Guide.