31 March 2021: Officers from the National Anti-extortion and Kidnapping Command of the Bolivarian National Guard arrested poet Juan Manuel Muñoz (aka Moriche) and novelist Milagros Mata Gil on charges of “incitement of hatred” because of the satirical text they wrote about a mass wedding that took place during the COVID-19 pandemic, reported El Nacional.
According to Infobae, despite the charges filed against them, both artists were released on 1 April 2021. The conditions of the house arrest include a ban on further publishing about the wedding.
The satirical text that was shared on WhatsApp and resulted in the detention is about the wedding, which took place on 22 March 2021. On 24 March 2021, a video of the wedding showing people partying and disregarding sanitary restriction measures became public. Amongst the people in the video, it is possible to see National Prosecutor Tarek William Saab, reported Tal Cual.
According to PEN International, “attacks on freedom of expression and journalism persist” in Venezuela. PEN International further calls on the Venezuelan Government to provide “conditions allowing freedom of expression through a legal framework in the country”.