Archbishop Baltazar Porras Cardozo of Merida, Venezuela, said this week that the media must serve the truth and that Venezuelans have the right to freedom of expression in a pluralist society.
"The manner in which freedom of expression is exercised is an indication of the value that society and those in power place on the right of citizens to exercise their human dignity," the archbishop said during a speech at Cecilio Acosta Catholic University.
He noted that a 2007-2008 report indicated that during that year, there were 147 cases of violations against freedom of expression affecting 186 individuals. The data demonstrates a certain level of “impunity and arbitrariness on the part of government officials,” the archbishop said.
“The most common violation was aggression (40.14%), followed by intimidation from security agents (32.65%), threats (19.73%) and verbal harassment from politicians (11.56%),” the archbishop said.
He also criticized the government for forcing radio and television stations to air government propaganda, calling it another way of restricting freedom of expression in Venezuela.
Archbishop Porras called on the Venezuelan media to build consensus “in the search for what is good and true.”