Crossword puzzles in a Venezuelan regional newspaper are being used to encrypt messages to incite revolt against the government, the Venezuelan minister of information has claimed.
Delcy Rodríguez, who made the accusation on Twitter, has called for a full investigation into El Aragueño, a daily in Aragua state – a site of recent anti-government protests.
The newspaper also took to Twitter to deny the accusation, accusing Rodríguez of seeking to generate alarm.
This is not the first time that crosswords have been accused of carrying secret anti-government messages. A similar claim was made more than a year ago by state television host Miguel Pérez Pirela, who said that a crossword puzzle in the country’s largest newspaper, Últimas Noticias, contained instructions to assassinate Adán Chávez, brother of the late president Hugo Chávez and governor of Barinas state. The puzzle included the words “kill”, “burst” and “Adan”.
Since demonstrators took to the streets of Venezuela two months ago to protest against hyperinflation, one of the world’s worst crime rates and food shortages, about 35 people have died, including a man in the city of Maracay, where El Aragueño is based. Public buildings in the city, including a library, have been set on fire by hooded attackers.
President Nicolás Maduro has said the protests are a coup in the making, designed by his opponents and backed by the US government to oust him from power. Although Maduro has said the protests have almost been halted, demonstrators continue to take to the streets.
Night after night, security forces have tried to disperse anti-government protesters in a handful of cities across Venezuela using teargas, water cannon and rubber bullets.
Rodríguez gave no additional details of what the crossword puzzle may have said, or when the investigations would take place.