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Last six months were the worst for journalism in the Americas in recent years, IAPA says

The last six months represented the worst semester for journalists in the Americas in the last five years, according to the Inter American Press Association, news agency EFE reported. The killing of journalists and the various government measures that restrict access to information were some of the reasons that IAPA cited during its General Assembly, which took place in Denver last weekend.

Claudio Paolillo, from the Uruguayan weekly Búsqueda and president of IAPA’s Committee for Freedom of Press and Information, noted that in the last six months 14 journalists were killed in Latin America, and that 17 cases of murder have remained open for several years with no solution – the majority in Mexico and Colombia – which will cease to be investigated in the next months due to legal deadlines to do so, EFE said.

Paolillo said that the attacks to the media in Latin American are part of a plan to “destroy democracy” and replace it by “messianic leaders who want to remain in power.” Those attacks include the purchase of private media in various countries by candidates and relatives of the rulers, as well as illegal use of economic pressures in order for media outlets to self-censor themselves, EFE said.

The statements were made after the presentation of reports from several countries. In Argentina, for instance, economic pressures, advertising boycotts, smear campaigns, intimidation and the use of public resources to coerce publications characterize the country's media landscape these days, according to Daniel Dessein, from the newspaper La Gaceta de Tucumán, newspaper La Nación reported.

This situation, according to Dessein, led the Inter American Commission on Human Rights to grant an audience for Argentine journalists to expose the situation in the coming days, said La Nación.

Delegates from Cuba and Venezuela also reported censorship against the press from the government in their countries. Yoani Sánchez, blogger and representative of IAPA in Cuba, said that Raúl Castro’s government has intensified a “governmental system against freedom of expression through aggression promoted by threats and acts of vandalism, in a year when five independent journalists have been arrested.” While noting that several Cuban voices have emerged over the Internet, the blogger recalled that access to it is restricted because Cuban citizens can spend about a third of their salary for an hour surfing the Internet.

Delegates from Venezuela said that what happens in Cuba should make people in their country and the region reflect on the "communicational hegemony in Latin America that is being advised and originated from Havana."

Among the problems, the delegates highlighted the recent creation of the Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS) by the government that could censor any information for national security reasons. The shortage of foreign currency to purchase imported products, such as paper and ink, has also led to the forced closure of five media outlets and the reduction of the number of pages in more than 20 newspapers.


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