Since he rose to power in 2013, Nicolás Maduro has continued the policy of "Communicational Hegemony" that was put in place by his predecessor, Hugo Chávez. Venezuela is experiencing a prolonged restrictive environment in terms of information, with policies that threaten the full exercise of independent journalism.
After the arrival of Nicolás Maduro in 2013, government policies against pluralism in the media increased; the official monopoly on the imports of paper and printing supplies resulted in the disappearance of the printed editions of dozens of newspapers. An opaque policy for the granting and revocation of concessions for radio broadcasting led 200 radio stations to close. The Venezuelan government practices a sustained policy of blocking news content on the Internet, affecting various independent media portals. The main independent media are Radio Fe y Alegría, Efecto Cocuyo, Unión Radio, El Estímulo, El Pitazo and El Diario.
Re-elected in disputed elections in 2018, Nicolás Maduro has already announced his intention to run for a new presidential term in 2024 which, if he wins, will keep him in power until at least 2030. The executive power in Venezuela has tight control over the judicial and legislative powers, which has led to a faulty system of institutional checks and balances. In this context, the pro-democracy opposition forces have been disjointed, without consolidated leadership or consensual proposals. The state media, along with official spokespersons, disqualifies, prosecutes, and sometimes publicly threatens journalists for their reports.
The absence of a comprehensive policy that protects freedom of expression – enshrined in article 58 of the Constitution – has gone hand in hand with the approval and implementation of extravagant measures such as the so-called “Anti-Hate Law”. This law was approved by a National Constituent Assembly, controlled by the Maduro regime, that took over legislating powers unlawfully. In the first four years under said law, several dozen Venezuelans have been sanctioned and many others threatened, including people who shared content on social networks.
Between 2015 and 2020, the Venezuelan economy has crumbled under a combination of the highest inflation rates and the worst drop in GDP in the world - a catastrophe resulting from the policies of economic controls and massive expropriations carried out, especially by Hugo Chávez, in the period between 2007 and 2011. The economic crisis has led to a drastic reduction in the distribution of official advertising, which favors media close to the government. In order to receive financial support, the media must agree to broadcast official government messages for free.
Venezuelan society is going through a generalized crisis that has impoverished living conditions. In response to the ongoing economic crisis, millions of Venezuelans have emigrated to seek opportunities in neighboring countries. It is estimated that a fifth of the country's total population has left Venezuelan territory in recent years. Emigrants are mostly young people of productive age.
Journalism in Venezuela is practiced in a restrictive environment. It is common for journalists to be beaten or threatened during pre-electoral or political conflict periods when they carry out their journalistic work. Since both the Attorney General’s Office and the Ombudsman’s Office are controlled by Maduro, neither helps guarantee the safety of journalists in the country, and acts of physical or verbal violence against them are seldom investigated.