2010 CPJ International Press Freedom Awardee
If there were an Algonquin Round Table in Caracas, Laureano Márquez would have a seat. Journalist, author, actor, and humorist, Márquez has found rich fodder in Venezuela’s idiosyncratic political landscape. He is the scourge of left-wing President Hugo Chávez and other politicians for his biting columns in the Caracas-based daily Tal Cual and other national publications. He is also the author of three books of humor, including the national 2004 bestseller, Código Bochinche. In February 2007, he and Tal Cual were fined after a court ruled that a satirical “letter” to Chavez’s daughter “violated the honor, reputation, and private life” of the then 9-year-old girl. In the piece, “Dear Rosinés,” Márquez urged the girl to influence her father to be nicer to his political opponents. In January, Marquez, 47, wrote a piece in Tal Cual that imagines a Venezuela freed from the political oppression of a ruler named “Esteban,” a veiled reference to Chávez. Information Minister Blanca Eekhout demanded the journalist be criminally prosecuted, describing the column as an assault on the country’s democracy and a coup plot disguised as humor.