Popular Venezuelan cartoonist fired over drawing

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — A popular cartoonist says she lost her job over her representation of the late Hugo Chavez's iconic signature as a flat-lined heartbeat to dramatize Venezuela's health care crisis.

Award-winning Rayma Suprani is a 19-year veteran of El Universal, among the country's largest and most-prestigious dailies. She's talking about her firing on Wednesday in interviews with local media.

Her ouster has alarmed press freedom advocates who say once-independent media are seeing criticism of the socialist government snuffed out.

Since the paper was sold to a group of Spanish investors in July, several columnists have resigned in protest. The paper's editor Elides Rojas has declined to comment on Suprani's dismissal but lamented on Twitter that mass newsroom resignations and a loss of readership could be in store for the century-old broadsheet.