Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Earl Maucker Disputes 'E&P' Guest Column on IAPA and Press Freedom in Venezuela

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Earl Maucker Disputes 'E&P' Guest Column on IAPA and Press Freedom in Venezuela

Article excerpt

A current E&P guest column -- sparked by an article about press freedoms in Hugo Chavez's Venezuela on this site -- has now drawn a response from Earl Maucker, editor of the South Florida Sun-Sentinal in Fort Lauderdale and, more to the point in this case, president of the Inter American Press Association.

Maucker notes that in the column, "The Many Sides Of Venezuelan Media," published here on January 7, the writer, Mark Weisbrot, "says he has the impression that the Inter American Press Association is not defending press freedom, but rather taking sides in a partisan struggle, in a politically polarized country. "It's obvious from Mr. Weisbrot's letter, he just doesn't get it."

The rest of the Maucker letter follows.* The Inter American Press Association of which I am president, defends the principles of journalism. It does not engage in partisan politics - in fact, it goes to great lengths to avoid that. On the recent mission that I personally led to Venezuela, we had ample opportunity to engage in political debate, but steadfastly avoided getting involved with the country's upcoming election. Whether the Venezuela press supports the opposition or is even considered the opposition by some is not the issue. The IAPA stands for a free and open press. The IAPA has defended and supported the work of the press in Venezuela and has properly protested to the government of President Hugo Ch?vez over the repeated, systematic direct and indirect outrages committed against news media and individual journalists at the legal, juridical and administrative levels. The IAPA has carried out 10 investigative missions since Ch?vez assumed power in 1999, and monitoring and issuing unceasing public complaints to the authorities in that country. Our organization has made repeated attempts to meet with President Chavez to discuss these issues, but have consistently been refused an audience. If defending press principles is considered taking sides in a politically polarized country, then I fear that the IAPA will never be objective. We will always land on the side of freedom of the press and freedom overall which is our tradition. We have been in many such battles before such as the despotic governments and various ideologies such as those of Castro, Per? …

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