Caracas: A court has ordered one of
Venezuela`s leading newspapers to stop publishing photographs
depicting blood, guns and other violent images and warned it
could face a hefty fine for having published a photo of bodies
in a morgue.
Venezuelan officials say the ruling involving El
Nacional -- one of Venezuela`s oldest newspapers and a fierce
critic of President Hugo Chavez -- aims to protect children
and adolescents from violent images, but opponents called the
move politically motivated censorship.
In its ruling, the court said it prohibited the
newspaper from publishing "images, information and publicity
of any type that contains blood, guns, alarming messages or
physical aggression images that incorporate warfare content
and messages about killings and deaths that could alter the
well being of children and adolescents."
The decision came after El Nacional published a
photograph on its front page depicting dead bodies in a
Caracas morgue. The image accompanied a news story examining
Venezuela`s failure to stem widespread violent crime.
The court notified El Nacional`s editor, Miguel
Henrique Otero, that the tribunal received a request for a
hefty fine to be levied on the newspaper. The fine could
amount to the equivalent of 2 per cent of the newspaper`s
revenue, the court announced.
Otero said the order handed down by the court would
effectively force all of Venezuela`s newspapers to refrain
from publishing any type of violent photographs, including
news-related images from international armed conflicts.
If the daily violates the order, he said, it could be
"They should come and put a censor here and tell us
what cannot be published," Otero quipped.
Otero suggested that El Nacional might defy the court
order because the newspaper does not plan to change its
editorial line or refrain from publishing photographs
including violent content.
"This doesn`t have anything to do with .... protecting
children and juveniles," Otero said. "It`s political."
Several other opposition-sided newspapers published
the same photograph this week as a show of solidarity with El
"There`s a terrible string of slayings in the country
and that`s the issue at hand," said Teodoro Petkoff, editor of
the newspaper Tal Cual.
Violent crime is one of Venezuela`s most pressing
problems, and Chavez foes are raising concerns ahead of
legislative elections in September.