The editors of two of the main media outlets in Venezuela are currently under legal investigation, and the reason is still unclear. Leocenis García, from media group Sexto Poder, and Miguel Henrique Otero, from newspaper El Nacional, had their bank accounts frozen last week. García was arrested on Tuesday night by military police; the reason, as in the case of Otero’s bank freeze, is still unknown.
The Ministry of Public Affairs accuses them of not being able of justifying the amounts in their bank accounts. García was accused last week by Congressman Julio Chávez of money laundering and tax evasion.
However, think tank Inter American Press Association (SIP, for its acronym in Spanish) believes that the arrests are part of a hostile campaign against independent press. Both Sexto Poder and El Nacional have been firm critics of the regime.
García is a very controversial columnist, and his ethics have even been questioned by his coworkers. He also has a violent temperament: he been in prison before, between 2008 and 2010, for wreaking havoc and bringing a gun at a reception hosted by a local newspaper. He was later arrested in 2012 for his participation in protests against the closing of Atel TV, and early this year went on a hunger strike to protest abuses of power by the Venezuelan government.
Otero’s paper, El Nacional, has been the opposition newspaper since its founding in 1943. Initially, the publication supported Hugo Chávez’s regime, but changed direction when the then-president’s politics turned too authoritarian for the paper's taste.
Venezuelan media is facing serious problems mantaining its independence from the government, particularly since TV channel Globovisión, once a beacon of media opposition, was seized and put under tight administrative control.
Patricia covers Latin America for the International Business Times.
Before joining IBT in March 2013, she worked at BBC America in New York, La República in Lima...