Venezuelan officials confiscate gear from foreign reporters covering elections
Dec 10, Caracas: On 2 and 3 December 2015, international correspondents who arrived in Venezuela to cover the upcoming parliamentary elections reported that their audiovisual equipment was confiscated by the authorities at the Simón Bolívar International Airport in Maiquetía, Vargas state. The authorities demanded a specific equipment declaration form, a document that was not requested by the Venezuelan embassies in the various countries where the journalists had been given their accreditation.
Marco Antonio Coronel, a journalist who works for the “Punto de Partida” programme, broadcast on the Mexican channel Televisa, told IPYS Venezuela that his equipment was confiscated at the airport after authorities told him about the requirement for the equipment declaration form.
“Twenty days ago the production team for the programme began the accreditation process so that we could travel to cover the elections. We complied with the processing of the documents that the Venezuelan consulate requested for the credentials. But they never told us about this new requirement,” said Coronel.
Guillermo Panizza, a journalist with Televisora Federal (Telefe), from Argentina, tweeted about authorities also taking his equipment because he did not have the right forms to bring it into the country. In a radio interview he said that he and his colleagues were able to enter the country without their equipment.
Panizza said that the airport authorities wanted an inventory of the equipment they were bringing into the country and to know what they were going to do there. He said that they had gone to the Argentinian embassy in Venezuela to try to sort out the issue.
Accreditation procedures for international journalists wanting to go to Venezuela to cover the elections would have taken place in embassies all over the world for the past few months. The process is overseen by the Ministry for Communications and Information (MINCI in Spanish).
On 3 December, Panizza tweeted that officials from the Argentinian embassy had been working to help his team get access to their equipment.
Patricia Janiot, a Colombian journalist who works for CNN en Español, also reported on 2 December that eight boxes of her technical equipment had been confiscated. She echoed other journalists' statements that they had not been notified about special requirements for bringing their equipment into the country. "Now other senior Venezuelan officials are aware of the situation and seem willing to work together to overcome the misunderstanding," she tweeted.
According to reports received by IPYS Venezuela, journalists from the international news agency Reuters also had similar experiences at the airport.
The Oslo Times