Newspaper executives from across the Americas accused President Hugo Chavez on Saturday of harming press freedoms in Venezuela, warning that he is using "attacks and intimidation" to curb criticism of his government.
The Inter American Press Association opened the second day of its midyear meeting in Caracas with stinging criticism of Venezuela's stance toward the media, even as Chavez supporters attended a parallel, government-organized "Latin American Meeting on Media Terrorism" just a few blocks away.
IAPA delegates cited Chavez's threats to close down Globovision - one of two Venezuelan TV channels that remain critical of his government - while faulting the socialist leader for severely restricting the independent media's access to government information and sources.
Several of Venezuela's most widely viewed television networks have curbed their criticism of the government since Chavez decided last year not to renew the broadcast license of Radio Caracas Television, which now airs only on cable.
"Chavez's government denies media outlets that are not subordinate to his hegemony access to public information," said David Natera, publisher of Venezuela's Correo del Caroni newspaper.