Venezuelan Prez targets freedom of press: Watchdog

Inter-American Press Association says Hugo Chavez tries to control ideas.

Merida: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez tries to control ideas and restrict news with techniques that recall Cold War-era eastern Europe or Cuba, the Inter-American Press Association said on Sunday.

"Chavez seeks to control ideas, and to impose silence" for those critical of his leftist government, said David Natera, who delivered a report on the state of press freedom in the South American nation at the IAPA annual meeting here.

There have been 113 reported incidents of assaults on reporters in the past year in Venezuela, the report found.

Natera said Chavez has shut down and harassed some media and expropriated others as a "social control strategy" so that "the people will have to depend on the state exclusively to get jobs or food."

"To achieve this perverse end, Chavez needs silence, the silence of the media and of journalists. He needs the silence and the fear that were typical of the sad and oppressed peoples of Cold War-era eastern Europe, the Soviet Union and today`s Cuba under (Raul) Castro," the report charged.

Violence largely linked to drug trafficking and organised crime was undercutting freedom of press in Mexico, the IAPA also reported.

Bureau Report