Venezuela's bloggers are under attack

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An investigative story by Venezuelan blogger Alek Boyd appears to have been the trigger for the first published threats to prosecute him, Gustavo Coronel, Miguel Octavio, Daniel Duquenal, Francisco Toro, Luis de Leon and Iruna Urrutia.  The threats appeared in a long, rambling, inchoate two—page ad that ran in a vaguely Chavista large—circulation newspaper called Ultimas Noticias.

The ad was a response to Alek's recent expose of a polling firm based in Miami called 'North American Opinion Research' as an apparent Chavista front. The curiously named firm seems to exist solely as a vehicle to journalists, feeding out poll numbers favorable to Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez. Given Chavez's worries over voter turnout in his upcoming December reelection, Alek's exposing this group is a major setback to Chavez's number one priority in the coming year. Discrediting this organization will leave more reputable pollsters to supply information to news organizations. If Chavez intends to cheat, he won't have this group as a cover to back his final voting results.

El Nuevo Herald, the Spanish—language partner publication of The Miami Herald> has since reported that the firm has no apparent analysts, statistician, nor research operations. Alek reports that it shares office space and a small staff with another apparent Venezuelan government front called PetroTulsa, which has a contract to build a multimillion—dollar refinery. Both firms' staff have strong links to the Venezuelan government. Why they are in Florida is an interesting question.

But clearly, someone's rice bowl was threatened by this lone Venezuelan blogger, and they lashed out at all of the bloggers.

Miguel Octavio has commentary here,  and Daniel Duquenal has more commentary here. There are more links on this at Venezuela Today, and I wrote other background material on this at Publius Pundit.

It is likely important to keep an eye on this. It represents the first published threat against bloggers, and follows at least two new instances of repression against press freedom in Venezuela. This week, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice explicitly cited growing efforts to intimidate the press in Venezuela, and this threat seems clearly part of the larger policy at ending the last remaining freedoms Venezuelans have.

A.M. Mora y Leon 03 11 06

An investigative story by Venezuelan blogger Alek Boyd appears to have been the trigger for the first published threats to prosecute him, Gustavo Coronel, Miguel Octavio, Daniel Duquenal, Francisco Toro, Luis de Leon and Iruna Urrutia.  The threats appeared in a long, rambling, inchoate two—page ad that ran in a vaguely Chavista large—circulation newspaper called Ultimas Noticias.

The ad was a response to Alek's recent expose of a polling firm based in Miami called 'North American Opinion Research' as an apparent Chavista front. The curiously named firm seems to exist solely as a vehicle to journalists, feeding out poll numbers favorable to Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez. Given Chavez's worries over voter turnout in his upcoming December reelection, Alek's exposing this group is a major setback to Chavez's number one priority in the coming year. Discrediting this organization will leave more reputable pollsters to supply information to news organizations. If Chavez intends to cheat, he won't have this group as a cover to back his final voting results.

El Nuevo Herald, the Spanish—language partner publication of The Miami Herald> has since reported that the firm has no apparent analysts, statistician, nor research operations. Alek reports that it shares office space and a small staff with another apparent Venezuelan government front called PetroTulsa, which has a contract to build a multimillion—dollar refinery. Both firms' staff have strong links to the Venezuelan government. Why they are in Florida is an interesting question.

But clearly, someone's rice bowl was threatened by this lone Venezuelan blogger, and they lashed out at all of the bloggers.

Miguel Octavio has commentary here,  and Daniel Duquenal has more commentary here. There are more links on this at Venezuela Today, and I wrote other background material on this at Publius Pundit.

It is likely important to keep an eye on this. It represents the first published threat against bloggers, and follows at least two new instances of repression against press freedom in Venezuela. This week, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice explicitly cited growing efforts to intimidate the press in Venezuela, and this threat seems clearly part of the larger policy at ending the last remaining freedoms Venezuelans have.

A.M. Mora y Leon 03 11 06