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Tuesday, 3 December, 2002, 14:31 GMT
Venezuela press joins strike
Chavez supporter
President Chavez still commands some public support

Leading newspapers in Venezuela have joined the strike against the government of President Hugo Chavez which has entered its second, unscheduled day.

Two of the largest circulation dailies, El Universal and El Nacional, both announce there will be no hard copy of their publications on Tuesday, although their internet editions will keep readers up to date.

Press strike an historic decision

El Nacional

El Universal says the decision was taken collectively by the Venezuelan Press Block "in a decision unprecedented since its foundation 44 years ago".

The decision was "taken unanimously to give backing to the civic stoppage" called by a cross section of Venezuelan society in an attempt to force a referendum on whether the president should leave office.

Historic

El Nacional described the move as "an historic decision".

A report in El Nacional quotes a former attorney general as saying the government is issuing safe-conduct passes to cover a "State of Emergency".

The national strike was a complete failure

The vice-president in 2001

Javier Elechiguerra told a radio station: "I have reliable information it is issuing safe-conduct passes to doctors, I don't want to even think that it has gone so far as to have planned a State of Emergency."

The dispute over the turnout of strikers is given prominent coverage, with the opposition saying that 80% of workers are on strike and the government saying 80% are continuing to work.

A huge front page headline in the daily 2001 proclaims "Venezuela paralysed". However the daily quotes the vice-president as saying "the national strike was a complete failure".

And the Labour Minister, Maria Cristina Iglesias, told the daily the government's strike figures "could be verified by the television reports" and that "absolute calm exists in our country".

Crossroads

The attacks on President Chavez continue unabated. A commentator in El Universal says the country is at "the crossroads".

How ironic when we see in Chavez and his Talibans the ridiculous certainty that they have arrived to stay

Former official in 2001

"We have to lament that as we enter the third millennium, Venezuela continues to depend on the will of a single man, an alienated one at that."

"The planet's least powerful man, Chavez, tries to be more powerful than the Venezuelan people. He tries, but he won't succeed."

And a former government official, Fernando Luis Egana, writing in the 2001 daily, condemns Mr Chavez as "the devil who has been grabbed by the beard".

"Oh, these powerful ones who think their power lasts for ever!...How ironic when we see in Chavez and his Talibans the ridiculous certainty that they have arrived to stay."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.


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See also:

23 Oct 02 | Country profiles
03 Dec 02 | Americas
02 Dec 02 | Media reports
29 Nov 02 | Americas
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