Venezuelan authorities released Miami Herald reporter after two days of detention

Miami Herald's Andean bureau chief tweets he is grateful

Headline Goes Here

MIAMI - After nearly two days in detention, Venezuelan authorities released the Miami Herald's Andean bureau chief Saturday, the Miami Herald reported.

According to the Miami Herald, Jim Wyss was reporting on the Venezuelan municipal elections and on the economy when the National Guard detained him Thursday. On Friday, he was in the custody of Venezuela's counter military intelligence in San Cristóbal, Táchira, the Miami Herald reported.

"I was able to see him and he looked all right, but they [authorities] wouldn't let us close," Lorena Arraiz, of Venezuela's El Universal told the Miami Herald. Arraiz tweeted authorities kicked her out of the place where they were holding Wyss.

The Miami Herald's Executive Editor Aminda Marqués Gonzalez was very concerned.  Wyss's editor John Yearwood traveled to Caracas. Several colleagues believed Wyss had been transferred to military intelligence agents, and then to authorities in Caracas, where he was released to U.S. Embassy officials.

Several news organizations worldwide and the State Department were asking the Venezuelan authorities to release Wyss immediately.  The president of the Florida Society of News Editors, Bob Gabordi, told the Miami Herald his organization was also communicating with Venezuelan authorities.

"A sincere thanks to everyone who helped win my speedy release and to the Venezuelan authorities who made it possible," Wyss tweeted Saturday.

Wyss resides in Bogotá, Colombia. He was born in College Station, Texas and graduated from Columbia University in New York. He has been with the Miami Herald since 2005, where he used to be a business reporter. He writes McClatchy's the Inside South America blog.


Wyss was covering the economic panorama in Venezuela, as government censorship focused on reports of scarcity. Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, who was elected in April, said journalism was being used in a war of perception that was part of a CIA plot.

Maduro asked prosecutors to punish journalists who report on the "alleged" shortages, classifying the reports as a "psychological war" and "war propaganda" to destroy the people of Venezuela.

Maduro  blamed the inflation and the shortages on an "economic war."  Venezuela's central bank's scarcity index indicate the opposite.

But there are shortages of basics such as corn flour, rice, coffee, milk and toilet paper, the Guardian reported. At any given store in Venezuela 22.4 percent of basic consumer goods were unavailable, The Christian Science Monitor reported.  And even more alarming, Yahoo reported Thursday that inflation reached 54.3 percent over the past year.

In October, Maduro started an organization called Center for Strategic Security and Protection of the Country with power to censor the media, La Nacion reported.

On Nov. 2nd, Maracaibo's La Verdad reported  journalists Eliscart Ramos and Dayana Escalona, and photojournalist Jorge Santos, of the newspaper Diario 2001 ,were detained. Authorities allegedly grabbed the photographer by the neck and took his equipment.

Maduro said the reporters were detained, because they were inciting violence.

Diario 2001 was under investigation for publishing a story in October about the shortages of gas in Caracas, and Globovision was sanctioned for covering the shortages, El Comercio reported.

In the past weeks, the political tension brewed with the upcoming municipal elections. The right blamed the late President Hugo Chavez's economic policies for the crisis, while the left blamed the private sector.

On the web, there were many "Chavistas" who said they  viewed foreign correspondents as enemies or "Yanquis" and local reporters as traitors or puppets of the elite.

Earlier this month, Venezuelan-American attorney and editor of the Correo del Orinoco International Eva Golinger reported that a document showed there was a "macabre" plan against Maduro's administration.

The document, Golinger reported, was titled "The Venezuelan Strategic Plan" and it was prepared by organizations that former Colombian president Álvaro Uribe Vélez supports. Also allegedly involved was a U.S. firm called FTI Consulting

Suspicion fueled the government's censorship, organizations protesting censorship in Venezuela said. The censorship has reportedly increased by 87 percent compared to 2012.

Copyright 2013 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.