CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- The late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has been awarded the country's National Journalism Prize even though he was accused of persecuting the press during his 14 years in power.
The National Journalism Prize Foundation says in a Thursday statement that its jury voted unanimously to give Chavez the prize because he gave voice to "the oppressed of the world" and fought a "constant battle against media lies."
Chavez died from cancer on March 5. His selection for a journalism award has stirred debate in Venezuela because international organizations including Human Rights Watch and the Inter American Press Association in the past repeatedly accused the Chavez government of threatening press freedom.
The foundation jury was comprised of journalists and academics seen as government supporters.