Venezuela newsprint restrictions threaten press: Reporters

MIAMI (AFP) - Venezuela's government has increased its efforts to silence the opposition media, including imposing restrictions that have left several newspapers without newsprint, a group of the country's journalists said on Friday.

Since last week, "eight Venezuelan newspapers have closed because they have no newsprint," journalist and professor Eduardo Orozco, said at a forum in Miami, calling it "just another weapon" to block the flow of information.

Dr Orozco, the president of the National College of Journalism in Caracas travelled with colleagues for the conference organised by the Miami-Dade College and the Association of Venezuelan Journalists abroad.

Meanwhile, the Inter-American Press Association asked Venezuela to abolish its restrictions on importing newsprint and other production materials, also saying a number of publications have had to suspend printing over a lack of supplies.

The required licenses "are contrary to the free flow of information that should prevail in a democracy," said press freedom committee chairman Claudio Paolillo.

They have primarily affected small papers, he added, which in many cases are the primary source of news for their local readers.

In a statement issued from the group's headquarters in Miami, Mr Paolillo said it was "inevitable to think the import licenses were being used intentionally to muzzle the press," Mr Paolillo said, urging the government to lift the requirement.