Type of site
|Owner||Alberto Federico Ravell|
|Users||+4.5 million (monthly, September 2015)|
|Launched||June 11, 2010|
La Patilla (English: The Watermelon) is a Venezuelan news website that was founded by Alberto Federico Ravell, co-founder and former CEO of Globovisión, in 2010. The website is based in Venezuela and is one of the most visited websites in Venezuela. In 2014, El Nuevo Herald stated La Patilla had hundreds of thousands of visitors per daily. Beginning in early 2018, the website has been censored in Venezuela by the Nicolás Maduro government.
La Patilla was created by co-founder and former CEO of Globovisión, Alberto Federico Ravell. In 2010, the majority shareholders of the television station asked for the resignation of Ravell and the other directors of Globovision. On 11 June 2010, Ravell created La Patilla.
By 2017, La Patilla had grown to be among the top 5 most visited websites in Venezuela, with only Google, YouTube and Facebook being more popular in the country.
The Wall Street Journal wrote that Venezuelans "have been forced to find alternatives as newspapers and broadcasters struggle with state efforts to control coverage", with a growing trend of Venezuelans using online news media to bypass government censors. Journalists and press-freedom advocates stated that news websites like La Patilla "have helped fill a gap" since those linked to the Venezuelan government had purchased media organizations in Venezuela, such as El Universal, Globovisión and Ultimas Noticias. In an article in The Wall Street Journal discussing the rising popularity of news websites in Venezuela, La Patilla CEO Ravell stated that, "The editorial line of La Patilla is to call it like it is ... We don't need paper. We don't need a broadcasting license. There's little they can do to squeeze us."
Initially after La Patilla's launch, its readership was primarily from postgraduate educated individuals. In 2015, La Patilla was primarily visited by those who were both college educated and not collegiately educated. One of the primary browsing locations for users was at school and at work.[non-primary source needed] By 2018, visitors were primarily college educated or in graduate school, with homes and work places becoming the main browsing locations while visits from schools declined.
On 17 May 2012, La Patilla was covering violent clashes occurring at a Venezuelan prison, La Planta, through a live stream video feed. Visitors of La Patilla reported that the website was experiencing "irregularities" and thought it was due to technical problems. It was discovered later that La Patilla was blocked by the government-run CANTV. CANTV blocked La Patilla's original IP address and after La Patilla changed its IP address, CANTV blocked it again. Readers of La Patilla criticized the blockage by CANTV saying it was a "violation of their right to information". Readers also assumed the blockage by the government was due to the coverage of the prison clashes. David Moran, editor of La Patilla stated that "Censorship has been multidimensional against us".
Weeks after the Venezuelan presidential election in 2018, La Patilla had their Hypertext Transfer Protocol censored from 6 June 2018 to 11 June 2018 by the state-run CANTV and private internet service providers who were complying with government regulations. Since June 2018, CANTV has blocked access to La Patilla.
Attacks on reporters
On 22 April 2014, reporters from La Patilla, who were covering events in Santa Fe, were retained by the National Guard. The reporters were accused of being "fake journalists", had to show their ID's to the National Guardsmen and had their pictures taken. They were later released without further complications. On 12 May 2014, a photojournalist from La Patilla was assaulted by National Police who tried to take his camera and hit him in the head with the butt of a shotgun while he covering protests in Las Mercedes. A week later on 20 May 2014, the same La Patilla photojournalist was assaulted by the National Police who tried to take his camera while covering protests in the Las Minitas neighborhood in Baruta. On 27 May 2014, a reporter for La Patilla was shot in the arm by a National Guardsman while covering clashes in Táchira. In April 2017, a La Patilla reporter was shot in the leg at close range with a tear gas canister, fracturing his tibia.
On 11 August 2015, then President of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, sued La Patilla and other media organizations for reporting that he was being investigated for his ties to drug trafficking and his alleged role in the Cartel of the Suns. On 31 May 2017, Bolivarian official Pedro Carreño leaked a document prior to trial of a decision by Venezuelan courts to award Cabello 1 billion bolívares ($500,000 USD in May 2017). Cabello stated that with the money, "I am going to pay the lawyers and I will give that to the poor children". The lawyer for La Patilla, Alejandra Rodríguez, stated that "to publish the contents of a judicial act in the middle of a controversy, of which Pedro Carreño is not a party, invalidates the judicial proceedings ... If that decision is true, it would demonstrate once again that in Venezuela there is no separation of powers and that the Judiciary is an appendage of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela".
In June 2019, La Patilla was charged and fined 30 billion sovereign bolivars (about $5 million) after publishing an Diario ABC article that mentioned the president of the pro-Maduro 2017 Constituent National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, in relation to drug trafficking in Venezuela. La Patilla's director Ravell, supporter of Juan Guaidó during the presidential crisis, wrote that Cabello was engaging in "judicial terrorism". Cabello stated that he would take control of the website if it was unable to pay the fine. Cabello had previously tried to raise judicial processes against ABC and The Wall Street Journal for accusations of drug trafficking, but the cases were rejected. Nathalie Southwick (CPJ) said that the measure taken against La Patilla was an "attempt to bankrupt and shut down a critical outlet" and provided an "example of how the Venezuelan judicial system is being used to retaliate against critical media".
- Official La Patilla YouTube channel
- Official La Patilla Twitter page
- Official La Patilla Facebook page
- Official La Patilla Instagram page
- Official La Patilla Snapchat page
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- "Cantv continúa el bloqueo a La Patilla". La Patilla (in European Spanish). 2018-08-24. Retrieved 2018-08-24.
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- "Lapatilla.com denuncia bloqueo a usuarios en Cantv". El Mundo. 17 May 2012. Retrieved 27 April 2014.
- "Los bloqueos de La Patilla y El Nacional revelaron una nueva forma de censura en internet". La Patilla (in European Spanish). Retrieved 2018-06-12.
- "GNB retuvo y fichó a fotógrafos de lapatilla (Video)". La Patilla. 23 April 2014. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
- "Impactantes imágenes: la agresión al reportero de La Patilla, captada por las cámaras de NTN24". NTN24. 12 May 2014. Archived from the original on 13 May 2014. Retrieved 13 May 2014.
- "Reportero gráfico de La Patilla es empujado y golpeado por un PNB: le rompieron el casco de un "cachazo"". NTN24. 12 May 2014. Retrieved 13 May 2014.
- "PNB agrede a reportero gráfico de @La_Patilla (Video)". La Patilla. 12 May 2014. Retrieved 13 May 2014.
- "PNB agrede nuevamente a reportero de @La_Patilla en Las Minitas (Video)". La Patilla. 19 May 2014. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
- "Herido por perdigones reportero gráfico de @La_Patilla en Táchira (Fotos)". La Patilla. 27 May 2014. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
- "El CPJ pide cobertura informativa "segura" durante protestas en Venezuela". La Patilla (in European Spanish). 12 April 2017. Retrieved 16 April 2017.
- "AFP: Portal venezolano de noticias LaPatilla debe pagar casi US$ 500.000 a líder chavista Diosdado". La Patilla (in European Spanish). 31 May 2017. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
- Blasco, Emil J. (26 January 2015). "El jefe de seguridad del número dos chavista deserta a EE.UU. y le acusa de narcotráfico". ABC (in Spanish). Retrieved 8 June 2019.
- "Venezuela news site ordered to pay $5 million to key regime figure". Yahoo News. 5 June 2019. Retrieved 5 June 2019.
- "Venezuela's Supreme Court orders La Patilla to pay US$5m in damages to Cabello". CPJ. 7 June 2019. Retrieved 8 June 2019.