By Jeremy Morgan
Latin American Herald Tribune staff
CARACAS -- A newspaper and a weekly review that were abruptly shut down by order of municipal officials in western Caracas last week have returned to circulation just as suddenly. Why they have been allowed to do so remains as much as a mystery as the closure orders were in the first place.
Edgard Otalvora, editor of El Nuevo Pais, said the newspaper had been "reopened administratively" and that problems had been resolved. The same had happened for news magazine Zeta, he added.
Barely 24 hours before, both publications had been closed down after local tax officials from the Libertador municipality in the capital had gone there demanding to see financial records. On being informed the documents were not on the premises, they issued closure orders.
In the wake of the reopening, Otalvora appeared to be in laid-back mode. "It was strange, there was no intention of reviewing documents," he told reporters. "They hadn't done this since last year, and they came with the intention of closing the vcompany."
Libertador is the only one of five municipalities in the capital that is under the political control of Chavez's ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). Libertador Mayor Jorge Rodriguez, a former vice president, is a key figure in the PSUV, and ran its campaign at the regional elections a year ago.
The newspaper, El Nuevo Pais, and Zeta magazine are both aligned with critics of President Hugo Chavez. El Nuevo Pais is overtly hostile towards Chavez and more or less all for which he stands. Zeta tends to follow a more moderate editorial line but has the habit of publishing analyses and articles unlikely to be deemed sympathetic to the government.
The closure order quickly came to be seen as yet another step in the government's campaign of hostility against media critical of Chavez. Reports from Washington said that the Obama Administration had called for "intimidation" of the media in Venezuela to halt.