Venezuela: Fired media workers 'on hunger strike'

Staff from a Venezuelan media group have apparently resorted to hunger strike in a bid to keep their jobs.

More than 100 people face the sack after Caracas authorities froze the accounts of 6to Poder, which comprises the economic daily El Comercio, a magazine, weekly journal, TV and radio stations and a polling company, according to reports. Its owner and publisher Leocenis Garcia - a frequent opponent of government - was arrested on suspicion of money laundering last week, according to Panamanian news agency ACAN. It quoted director Alberto Rodriguez accusing the government of bankrupting the company "in a formal way", leaving it unable to pay wages or bills.

Eight workers are now on hunger strike outside the Organisation of American States' (OAS) Caracas office, according to the Venezuelanalysis website, while pro-opposition broadsheet El Universal pictures some of them lying on mattresses in the open air. It quotes Rodriguez calling on the international community and National Association of Journalists to support press freedom in the socialist state. Reporters Without Borders has previously accused officials of using legal channels to close down opposition broadcasters, while a "social responsibility" law gives the government power to control content, says international affairs NGO Freedom House.

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