MIAMI, Florida (October 31, 2008)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today condemned violent actions this week against more than a dozen journalists in Bolivia and expressed anger at the attacks, perpetrated by both supporters and opponents of the government.
On October 28 and 29 members of the Popular Civic Committee, close to the governing Movement to Socialism (MAS) party, in separate incidents attacked some 13 reporters from print and online media covering the investigations being carried out by international delegates of the Union of South American Nations into the massacre of 15 peasants last month in Pando province.
“In recent months we have seen an increase in attacks on journalists, actions that cannot be attributed to just one sector of the Bolivian political scene, so we call on the authorities to investigate and punish those resorting to violence, not matter of what political stripe they may be,” declared IAPA President Enrique Santos Calderón, editor of the Bogotá, Colombia, newspaper El Tiempo.
The chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Robert Rivard, editor of the San Antonio Express-News, San Antonio, Texas, for his part said the IAPA echoes the criticism by Colombia’s National Press Association (ANP) of “the passive reaction of the authorities and the negligence of the police.”
Rivard recalled that the IAPA paid special attention at its recent General Assembly in Madrid, Spain, to Bolivia, expressing its concern at the increase in violence unleashed against journalists and attacks on the news media there.
At the meeting the IAPA adopted a resolution in which it reported that between March and September this year “at least a hundred journalists, from privately-owned print media, radio and television, were the target of various kinds of attacks by militants or sympathizers of the government and the opposition during debate over planned national political reforms.”