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Venezuelan newspapers threatened by lack of dollars to import paper

Dozens of regional daily newspapers in Venezuela are at risk of having to halt their presses due to government delays in providing foreign currency needed to import paper, a Canadian Press report has said. The National Union of Press Workers said in a statement Wednesday that more than 50 dailies across the country "are on the brink of ceasing operations due to the lack of paper."

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The organization accused the government agency that is in charge of administering Venezuela's strict currency controls of failing to provide dollars to pay pending debts in recent months to companies that import newsprint. It said "various dailies are already working with a small reserve of paper."

David Natera, president of the country's newspaper publishers association, told The Associated Press that some regional newspapers face a "serious" situation due to the lack of dollars to import paper.

Natera blamed the government for the crisis faced by some newspapers and said his organization, the Press Bloc, has called for an urgent meeting to evaluate the situation.
Tensions between the President Hugo Chavez's government and the media have been on the rise in recent weeks as the head of the telecommunications agency has announced plans to revoke the licenses of 240 radio stations and to limit the number of stations permitted in radio networks to three.

Venezuelan newspapers have complained in recent years about difficulties in importing newsprint. Chavez's government has maintained strict currency controls since 2003, and all importers are required to apply to a government currency agency to obtain dollars at the official rate of 2.15 bolivars to the dollar.

Date posted: July 16, 2009 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 237