“With a gas mask and bullet-proof vest”


How does a Venezuelan Journalist today in such a polarized country? Emilio Materán, General Director of the newspaper “La Voz” in Caracas, in the DW-Interview.

Deutsche Welle: Señor Materán, what is the everyday work of a journalist in Venezuela at the moment?

Emilio Materán: to start with, that you reported as a Journalist with a gas mask and bullet-proof vest demonstrations and to intimidation. To me has once threatened a high government official that he was going to force me to sell my newspaper. And these threats do not go unnoticed by a temporary. The employees then the whole family. It is simply very difficult. Not only because of the risks we take, but also because Venezuela is politically polarized. The policy has added to the journalism very much damage. Many journalists here have done away with the policy community, a few journalists keep to the Opposition, others keep it with the government. For the journalists who are critical of the government, however, it is much more difficult, because their work is difficult. You have come to the state Bodies not it, because the access is denied. Often you are prohibited from also participating in the press conferences of the government.

Reports of demonstrations in Caracas, it is critical journalists becoming more and more difficult

So it is very difficult to get a partner of the government, and at the same time they are complaining that it is not reported as a Journalist about a particular Demonstration or press conference. For journalists close to the government, however, it is much easier. What’s remarkable in you is that you such as asking questions, but quite frankly your opinion. You can watch the daily very good on “channel 8”, which is supposed to be a state broadcaster, but in reality is a government transmitter. This channel is used, unfortunately, only the political Propaganda.

Takes place in the case of the journalist in Venezuela, a self-censorship?

Of course, day-to-day. For years, television and radio stations closed, with the Argument that the concession had expired. Under presidents Hugo Chávez and Nicolàs Maduro over 200 radio stations have been closed. Over 100 Newspapers have closed in the same period of time, because you have been hampered in the purchase of paper. And there’s the countless journalists are not, of course, still counting, who have lost their Job Because their employer has received a call that his Medium immediately the concession, lose, when that Journalist is not fired immediately.

The leader of the opposition Guaidó Venezuelans rarely shown live on TV

The most recent case is that of César Miguel Rondón, who was a very uncomfortable Journalist for the government, because he has very critical questions. And for all these reasons, the journalists censor themselves in Venezuela today, to get no problems. So, if there is, for example, demonstrations of the Opposition, you will find hardly any journalists. Over a March of supporters of Juan Guaidó you see, perhaps, with luck, in the evening in the news a bit, but never live, if the March is taking place. Also, the TV sehsender with the highest ratings, such as Venevisión, Televen, or Globovisión, hold back. And also the radio stations here, self-censorship is part of the journalistic routine.

In Latin America media of Information and opinion are mixed. In Venezuela currently?

In any case. In the case of the Maduro-friendly media, without exception, but also in the case of the Maduro-critical media, there are very many journalists that make the. Instead of informing the journalists take a clear Position, and not in the opinion programs, where it belongs. In the news broadcasts each post with your own opinion of the journalists is colored. Yes, here in Venezuela, a very clear tendency to mix Information and opinion.

Emilio Materán in the La Voz newsroom in Caracas

There are impartial and independent journalists, or you will notice immediately that there are supporters or opponents of Nicolás Maduro?

You will notice, in fact, immediately, who is for and who is against the President. There are quite a lot of journalists, to which I count myself, who are trying to report in this radicalized the country lens. I in addition to my activities as General Director of the newspaper “La Voz”, for example, a weekly opinion program on the Radio. There I a load a week, someone from the government, the next week a Person from the Opposition, that is, we try to be independent. Nevertheless, I believe that it is in this Moment in Venezuela is impossible to be completely impartial. There are too many questions that revolve around the Failure of the government. The latest example: the power outage, as we were four days without electricity, something completely Unimaginable.

Is poisoned the atmosphere between the journalists of the various bearings similarly, as in the Venezuelan society?

There is certainly no hatred, but on the other hand, no exchange. And though many journalists have previously worked in the same Medium, however. Hate I would not call it on every case, but there are big differences.

What lesson can learn the journalism from the crisis in Venezuela?

First of all, we must notice that the polarization of the country has hurt the journalism enormously. The journalism has to stand on the side of the people and their needs and must not become a tool of Manipulation. And I mean here both sides, so both government-critical journalists. The Opposition here has also made many mistakes, and some of the media reports about them. I think the Venezuelan journalism must learn from the actuality.

A form of government-critical newspaper “El Nacional”, which announced at the end of last year, its operating

In the news reporting, we journalists must designate the earnings as well as the mistakes of the government and the Opposition. And the viewers, listeners or Users must then form your own opinion. But because many reporters and editors take over the positions of politicians, has suffered the journalism in Venezuela.

Many media scholars have told us that the TV stations from Mexico to Argentina to stage the power struggle between Guaidó and Maduro like a Telenovela. Here is the beautiful Prince Guaidó, there is the evil uncle Maduro. Would you agree with that?

I would not generalize. In Latin American television, it also depends on which channel you see. When you turn on Telesur, for example, you will see the complete opposite. There Guaidó is the usurper, and prepared for a coup, and Maduro is the victim of US President Donald Trump. Turn on other transmitters, it is said, however, Guaidó attempts, Venezuela, by reason of advancing, while Maduro cling desperately on to Power. That is, the Medium in front of the line, how about the power struggle in Venezuela, is reported.

What would happen with the Maduro-friendly journalists, when Juan Guaidó would come to Power?

This is a very interesting question, because we don’t know how the media would look the policy of Guaidó. But each of the Opposition would know from their own experience exactly, in the Situation of the media in Venezuela today. Then you can’t do the Same thing, so all of the Maduro-friendly journalists from the state media throw out and Guaidó-friendly journalists to replace. Guaidó, or whoever will be the future President of Venezuela, must understand the damage that have taken the state-run media, which damage the journalism per se. We need to return to the diversity of opinion and balance. In each Medium, because it ensures their Survival.

The Venezuelan Emilio Materán has been working for 30 years as a Journalist. He is the General Director of the newspaper “La Voz” in Caracas, which was founded by his father.

The conversation with Oliver Pieper.