Latin leaders rebuked for assaults on media
Posted on Sat, Mar. 29, 2008
By CASTO OCANDO
El Nuevo Herald
The Inter American Press Association on Friday questioned the increasing
attacks on journalists and media outlets carried out by government
officials throughout Latin America, while also denouncing as
''shameful'' the current predicament of 25 journalists imprisoned in Cuba.
These were the topics of greatest concern during the first day of
discussions at the IAPA biannual gathering that will run through the
Gonzalo Marroquín, president of IAPA's Commission for Freedom of
Expression, said that presidents and government officials who
characterize themselves as democratic ``dedicate themselves to attacking
the press with the intention of undermining their credibility.''
Among the Latin American presidents most noted for their attacks on the
press were Paraguay's Nicanor Duarte, Tabare Vasquez of Uruguay, Manuel
Zelaya of Honduras, Rafael Correa of Ecuador, Daniel Ortega of
Nicaragua, Evo Morales of Bolivia and Venezuela's Hugo Chávez.
Another troubling tendency noted by the Commission for Freedom of
Expression is the increasing control placed by government agencies on
media outlets throughout the region.
According to Marroquín's statistics, in recent months there were
numerous kidnappings and murders of journalists in Argentina, Honduras
and Mexico. Additionally, there was one kidnapping in Colombia; 62
journalists were threatened to be silenced in Colombia, Bolivia and
Peru; and Cuba exiled eight reporters and 25 others remain imprisoned.
The report noted that a month after Raúl Castro took over power in Cuba
on Feb. 24, ``there prevails in Cuban journalism the same situation of
stagnancy, control of information, repression against the exercise of
independent professionalism and indifference toward the pleas made for
the imprisoned journalists.''
But the report also recognized a relative opening of the official press,
especially for coverage of ''topics previously considered taboo,'' such
as unemployment among youths, the agricultural crisis and the black market.