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Journalists are brutally repressed by law enforcement and protesters in Argentina while covering demonstrations



More than a dozen journalists were wounded by security forces and protesters during a demonstration in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Dec. 14. According to various Argentine media outlets, this was one of the most brutal repressions against the press and citizen protesters so far under the government of current Argentine President Mauricio Macri.

 

 

At least 12 journalists were wounded by security forces, and another four by some protesters, during the demonstration against proposed pension cuts, according to the Association of Argentine Journalistic Entities (Adepa, for its acronym in Spanish).

Adepa expressed its rejection of "violence against press workers" during the massive protest, and urged the authorities to investigate what happened.

"We always condemn the acts of aggression against journalists in fulfillment of their professional duties," Andrés D'Alessandro, Adepa's executive director, told the Knight Center.

The protest, which was organized by different civil society organizations, took place in front of the National Congress, in the Plaza de los Dos Congresos. This occurred in opposition to a reform from the Macri government that proposes cutting the pensions of millions of retirees. This adjustment, the "pension reform," was supposed to be discussed by legislators on Dec. 14.

However, 15 minutes before the parliamentary session began, the hundreds of policemen who had cordoned off the perimeter of the Congress with metal fences began firing rubber bullets and tear gas at demonstrators, El Mundo reported. Water cannon trucks were also used to disperse the crowd, according to the site.

According to Adepa, the press workers attacked are: Pablo Piovano, independent photographer who also works at Página/12; Fabio Soria, Lucila Trujillo and Guido Rodríguez, reporters and cameraman with C5N; Germán García Adrasti, Clarín photographer; Luis Costantini, Canal 9 cameraman; Marcelo Silvestro, photographer with Perfil; Juan Cruz Clemente, Nicolás Munafó and Santiago Riva Roy of América TV; Federico Hauscarriaga, photographer of AnRed; Nicolás Fiorentino, journalist of Letra P; Jerónimo Mura and Fabio Soria from La Nación+; Lola Cardoner, reporter with Canal 9; and Diego Martínez, photographer with Tiempo Argentino.

According to the Forum of Argentine Journalism (Fopea), Mura, Soria, Cardoner, Martínez, as well as journalists Gabriela Zagordo and Cristian Delicia, were assaulted by some of the protesters.

Likewise, both Fopea and Adepa denounced that the work teams of Crónica TV, C5N, América TV and Canal 9 also suffered damages while broadcasting during the protest.

"Unfortunately, press workers are usually attacked in the demonstrations by security forces and sometimes also by demonstrators," D'Alessandro said. He added that the authorities should investigate what happened and implement the appropriate measures to prevent these aggressions from happening again.

According to Fopea, among the most serious cases are those of photojournalists Pablo Piovano and Federico Hauscarriaga, whose bodies were hit with rubber bullets.

A police officer shot Piovano’s body about ten times, from just half a meter away, Página/12 reported. Another policeman shot Hauscarriaga directly from some 20 meters away, despite the fact that the journalist showed him his press credential several times, and that he was outside of the line where the police were moving to control the protest, according to Fopea.

The Association of Graphic Reporters of the Argentine Republic (Argra) denounced through its Facebook account that the press workers who cover the social protest "are assimilated as 'targets to be repressed' by the forces that answer to the Ministry of Security." The association held the government accountable for the safety of journalists.

According to Argra, journalists from other cities in the country, who also covered Dec. 14 protests against the government regarding pension adjustments, were also repressed. Several reporters and photographers were attacked in Neuquén and La Plata. "We don’t know of a single case of punishment for those responsible or admission of the facts by the authorities," the organization said.

As for the protesters, the police detained 41 people during the demonstration on charges of "public intimidation" and "resistance to authority." According to Página/12, the number of detainees grew to 45 when four other people were arrested at dawn on Dec. 15. They participated in a vigil on the outskirts of one of the police stations where some of the detainees were being kept, Página/12 reported.

During a press conference organized by representatives of several human rights organizations, unions and political groups, those gathered called for the resignation of the Minister of Security, Patricia Bullrich, for the fierce repression on Dec. 14 against the popular mobilization, according to Página/12 .

"This is not democratic. There is no dialogue. There are injured journalists and photographers. This reminds us of other times of militarization in Argentina," said Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, who is also head of the Servicio Paz y Justicia (Serpaj). At the press conference, Pérez Esquivel was accompanied by Nora Cortiñas, co-founder of Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, as well as members of other social organizations.

Civil society organizations and other social movements have called for a new march on Monday, Dec. 18 at noon, Página/12 reported. On that day, the government will once again try to discuss and vote on pension reform in Congress.



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