MIAMI, Florida (January 16, 2017)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) engaged in intense activity concerning issues of press freedom and digital transformation in Washington, DC, during a mission headed by its president, Matt Sanders, senior director and general manager of Deseret Digital Media, of Salt Lake City, Utah.
The international IAPA delegation visited members of Congress, Department of State officials and lawyers close to President-Elect Donald Trump's transition team to whom they spoke about the controversial situation involving the newspapers El Siglo and La Estrella de Panamá resulting from the inclusion of the company owning them in the "Clinton List."
The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Treasury Department on May 5, 2016 included Abdul Waked, principal owner of the newspapers, in its so-called "Clinton List" of money-launderers, without to date there having been any legal proceedings or evidence presented against him. The Treasury Department granted a second license to the newspapers that permit them to operate for the moment. Otherwise without this license no American company or citizen could maintain relations with that editorial firm, producing for it commercial asphyxia that would result in the shutdown of the media outlets.
The IAPA also raised the press freedom problems in Venezuela, particularly the arrest without due process of publisher and journalist Braulio Jatar, and the tight censorship being imposed by President Nicolás Maduro through legal pursuit, judicial action and administrative measures such as the one that does not enable newspapers to obtain newsprint and other supplies for their publication.
The IAPA delegates visited Organization of American States Secretary General Luis Almagro and the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission, Edison Lanza, who in addition to the Panama, Venezuela and Cuba issues were told of the situation of several cases of the murder of journalists in Mexico that the IAPA submitted to the Commission some years ago and remain unresolved.
The IAPA delegation visited officials of the United Nations Foundation and of the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) with whom they looked into possible forms of collaboration.
The delegation also visited the Peruvian ambassador in Washington, Carlos Pareja, to inform him that the IAPA is planning to celebrate World Press Freedom Day in Lima with a Declaration of Chapultepec event, to which it hopes for the presence of the South American country's president, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.
In addition to Sanders the delegation was made up of Roberto Rock, chairman of the Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information and editor of La Silla Rota, Mexico City, Mexico; Eduardo Quirós, vice president for Panama, editor of La Estrella de Panamá, Panama City, Panama; Miguel Henrique Otero, vice president for Venezuela of the Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, editor of El Nacional, Caracas, Venezuela; Antonieta Jurado de Otero, director of Atodomomento.com, Caracas, Venezuela, and Ricardo Trotti, IAPA executive director, Miami, Florida.
The IAPA http://www.sipiapa.org is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press and of expression in the Americas. It is made up of more than 1,300 publications from throughout the Western Hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida.