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 out of Venezuela and according to Alexa it is one of the top 600 websites visited in the world and among the top visited in Venezuela. According to El Nuevo Herald, La Patilla has hundreds of thousands of visitors reading daily. Since early 2018, the website has been continuously censored in Venezuela by the Nicolás Maduro government.
Type of site
|Owner||Alberto Federico Ravell|
|Alexa rank||516 / 7 (Global / Venezuela, June 2018)|
|Users||+4.5 million (monthly, September 2015)|
|Launched||June 11, 2010|
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 the directors of Globovision which included Ravell. On 11 June 2010, Ravell then created the news website, La Patilla.
According to Alexa Internet, in 2015, La Patilla was one of the most popular websites in Venezuela, more popular than Twitter and any other news website. At that time the only websites that were more popular in Venezuela were YouTube, Amazon, Google and Facebook. 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. It was also the top visited news website in Venezuela, ranked more popular than El Universal, Globovisión and El Nacional.
The Wall Street Journal reports 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 also state 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 by The Wall Street Journal discussing the rising popularity of news websites in Venezuela, La Patilla CEO Alberto Federico 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."
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. 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. However, visitors of La Patilla reported that the website was experiencing "irregularities" and thought it was just technical problems. Later it was discovered 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 momentarily censored by the state-run CANTV as well as private internet service providers who had to comply with government regulations from 6 June 2018 to 11 June 2018. Since June 2018, CANTV has continued to block access to La Patilla.
Attacks on reportersEdit
On 22 April 2014, reporters from La Patilla that were covering events in Santa Fe were retained by the National Guard. The team of 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. In another incident 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 photojournalist attacked in Las Mercedes who worked for La Patilla was assaulted by the National Police again 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 attacked while covering clashes in Táchira when he was shot in the arm by a National Guardsman armed with a shotgun.
In April 2017, a La Patilla reporter was shot at close range with a tear gas canister, fracturing his tibia after being hit in the leg.
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", while 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, the website was charged with "moral charges" and fined 30 billion sovereign bolivars (about $5 million) after publishing an Diario ABC article about drug traffic in Venezuela, that implicated the president of the pro-Maduro 2017 Constituent National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello. The website director Alberto Federico Ravell, supporter of Juan Guaidó during the presidential crisis, wrote that Cabello was engaging in "judicial terrorism". Cabello also added that he will take control of the website if it was unable to pay. Cabello had previously tried to raise judicial processes against ABC and The Wall Street Journal for accusations of drug trafficking, but the cases were rejected. Nathalie Southwick (CPJ) considers that the measure against La Patilla is an "attempt to bankrupt and shut down a critical outlet" and provides an "example of how the Venezuelan judicial system is being used to retaliate against critical media".
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- "PNB agrede nuevamente a reportero de @La_Patilla en Las Minitas (Video)". La Patilla. 19 May 2014. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
- "Herido por perdigones reportero gráfico de @La_Patilla en Táchira (Fotos)". La Patilla. 27 May 2014. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
- "El CPJ pide cobertura informativa "segura" durante protestas en Venezuela". La Patilla (in Spanish). 12 April 2017. Retrieved 16 April 2017.
- "AFP: Portal venezolano de noticias LaPatilla debe pagar casi US$ 500.000 a líder chavista Diosdado". La Patilla (in Spanish). 31 May 2017. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
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- "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.