HAVANA TIMES – Venezuelan authorities should immediately release journalist Eduardo Galindo and his family, and ensure that members of the media can work without fear of retribution, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said today.
On April 15, at about 5 p.m., a group of agents from the Anti-Extortion and Kidnapping Unit of the Venezuelan National Guard arrived at Galindo’s home in the city of San Fernando de Apure, arrested him, and brought him to their headquarters to be interrogated regarding a report published by Senderos de Apure, the news website he edits, according to a report by his outlet and a video by Galindo, taken during the arrest, which was posted to Twitter by the National Union of Press Workers, a local press freedom organization.
Around two hours later, National Guard agents returned to the home to confiscate Galindo’s equipment and, when his family members refused to let them in, broke in, confiscated computers and phones, and detained Galindo’s wife and brother, according to posts on Twitter by the National Union of Press Workers and the Institute of Press and Society, another local press group.
Galindo, his wife, and his brother are detained at the National Guard regional headquarters, according to José Ramón González, secretary-general of the Apure-Amazonas division of the National Journalists’ Union, another local press freedom group, who spoke with CPJ via phone, and Senderos de Apure.
“Authorities in Venezuela should immediately release journalist Eduardo Galindo and his family members,” said CPJ South and Central America Program Coordinator Natalie Southwick, in New York. “Arbitrarily detaining a journalist and his relatives only serves to highlight the abusive efforts by authorities in Venezuela to censor information, as the country continues to suffer a dire economic crisis in the middle of a pandemic.”
Galindo’s detention was related to his reporting on fuel shortages in the region, according to news reports. Venezuela has been experiencing severe nationwide fuel shortages in recent months, according to reports.
González said that authorities have not provided any additional information about Galindo’s arrest, which had been conducted without a warrant, or filed any charges against him. He said that the local prosecutor’s office had declined to receive a document prepared by the National Journalists’ Union demanding Galindo’s release.
CPJ called the National Guard for comment, but no one answered the phone.