Attacks on the Press
A climate of uncertainty and tension surrounded the death of President Hugo Chávez after his tightly guarded struggle with cancer and the election of his handpicked successor, Nicolás Maduro. Coverage of both events resulted in widespread attacks on and harassment of journalists. The government's campaign against critical broadcaster Globovisión continued with the eighth sanction against the TV network in eight years, this time regarding a report that questioned the legality of postponing the inauguration of the then-ailing Chávez. After years of harassment, the broadcaster's owner sold the company to businessmen rumored to have close ties to the government, and the station subsequently changed its editorial tone. In a move that critics described as unconstitutional, Maduro signed a decree creating the Strategic Center for Security and Protection of the Fatherland, or CESPPA, which he said would protect the country from outside threats. But journalists and press freedom groups said it gave the state vast powers that would be used to intimidate and censor the media. His government also targeted journalists, websites and Internet service providers in an attempt to suppress the country's grim economic news. The government also made good on its long-term threat and officially withdrew from the American Convention on Human Rights, a cornerstone of the human rights system of the Organization of American States.