efe-epaCaracas

A total of "498 violations of freedom of expression" occurred in Venezuela between January and December, the National Press Workers Guild (SNTP) said Wednesday.

"The figure, which is inappropriate for democratic countries, shows a 26.5 percent increase from 2016, when there were 360 incidents," the SNTP said in a statement. "It is above the reports in 2015 (280) and 2014 (420)."

The guild said "members of the state security agencies" were responsible for 70 percent of the incidents.

The months of April, with 98 incidents, and May, with 99, were the months with the highest number of attacks on freedom of expression, the report said.

"This coincided with the days with more social protests and also more repression," the SNTP said.

Between April and July, when anti-government protests raged, "there were 273 incidents ... that affected 464 media workers," the SNTP said, adding that there were 41 arrests of journalists and "14 offices were attacked" during that four-month period.

In 2017, 49 media outlets were closed, most of them radio stations, and the Colombian television networks RCN and Caracol, along with CNN en Español, were banned by the government.

"Restrictions on the print media continue, mostly through government control of the importation and distribution of paper print," the SNTP said. "Nearly 20 newspapers were forced to stop printing while others cut down on the number of pages and copies to maintain circulation."