On the night of Monday, February 25, the Univision television network reported that its team deployed in Caracas, led by journalist Jorge Ramos, had been arbitrarily detained for several hours at the order of Nicolás Maduro at the Miraflores presidential palace, the seat of the Venezuelan government. The incident happened in the middle of an interview, during which Maduro apparently became annoyed by language that Ramos used to refer to him.
Following the team’s detention, Jorge Rodríguez, Maduro's Communication Minister, informed Univisión that the team was free and on their way to a hotel. In a telephone conversation broadcast live on Univision, Ramos himself confirmed that the group of six people was in good condition but that Maduro's security agents had confiscated their cameras, cell phones and the material they had recorded, after intimidating them. Ramos said that he hoped they would not encounter any problems leaving Venezuela. On the morning of Tuesday, February 26, the team was deported to the United States.
In light of the seriousness of this incident, the undersigned organizations affirm that:
- This detention constitutes a serious violation of press freedom and affects the right to freedom of information about events that are of significant public interest within Venezuela and its neighboring countries.
- The fact that at least 19 journalists have been detained in 2019 to date demonstrates Nicolás Maduro’s pattern of contempt for democratic values in Venezuela, where restrictions on journalistic freedom are used as a blackmail tool within the framework of the country’s current crisis.
- The arbitrariness of this act of censorship is aggravated by the fact that it took place during an interview with Nicolás Maduro himself, at the historic headquarters of the Venezuelan government.
- The confiscation of the journalistic material, including cameras and cell phones, constitutes an act of continuous censorship that remains ongoing until the materials and equipment are returned.
- We call on the international community, including the countries that recognize Maduro as President, to pay special attention to guarantees for a free press in Venezuela under the framework of the commitments they have signed before international law, considering that respect for press freedom is an essential requirement for international relations.
- We request that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights grant precautionary measures to journalists covering the Venezuelan crisis.
- We express our solidarity with the detained journalists and the Univision news team.
- We call on the journalism community across the Americas to engage in efforts of solidarity and unity in order to keep the international community informed about what is happening in Venezuela.
Antonio Nariño Project
Colombian Association of Media AMI
Gabriel García Márquez Foundation for New Iberoamerican Journalism (FNPI)
Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP)
José Miguel Vivanco, Director for the Americas of Human Rights Watch
Brazilian Newspaper Association
Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights
Chile’s National Association of the Press
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA)
Ecuadorian Association of Newspapers editors (AEDEP)
Association of Argentine Journalistic Entities (ADEPA)
Reporters Without Borders
International Media Support (IMS)
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
Inter-American Press Association (SIP)