SANTIAGO, Chile (May 3, 2011)—Chile’s President Sebastián Piñera signed the Declaration of Chapultepec today in a solemn ceremony that included members of the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) and the Chilean National Press Association (ANP). The ceremony was held in Constitution Square outside La Moneda Palace.
In a resounding commitment to press freedom Piñera cited five government acts “to defend and promote freedom of the press, always, everywhere and in all circumstances.” He added that his administration will make itself heard whenever other leaders degrade that freedom.
“We will act with the greatest transparency as democracy is measured by public control and scrutiny, and that is why I am committed to continue increasing the levels of openness in government,” Piñera declared.
He also mentioned the creation of a culture of “accountability” and the maintenance of an open-door policy for the media and the public to access official information.
In addition, Piñera stressed the expansion of bandwidth in his country “so that everyone may participate with his ideas” – a reference to the fact that new technologies have broken the information monopoly.
His remarks followed presentations by ANP President Álvaro Caviedes and IAPA President Gonzalo Marroquín.
Marroquín said that “from this beautiful square in the Chilean capital we call upon the people of North America, the Caribbean, Central America and the Southern Cone, together, the press and society at large, to do more than just stand on alert—rather to reject any action that seeks to restrict the human right to free speech.”
The IAPA president explained that there are two major enemies of freedom of expression and of the press – organized crime and intolerant and authoritarian governments which “in both cases seek to limit, restrict or completely do away with the free flow of information that bothers them so much for reasons that are more than obvious.”
Piñera became the 59th president to add his signature to the Declaration of Chapultepec, a document containing 10 principles for a free press to be able to perform its role in a democracy. The Declaration was adopted by political leaders, intellectuals, journalists and citizens from throughout the Americas during a Hemisphere Conference held in Mexico City in 1994.
Piñera stressed that press freedom also carried with it duties, obligations and responsibilities, mentioning among these “a commitment to exercise it with full respect for the truth,” adding that the press must respect “the dignity and honor of persons.”
Finally, he insisted that the press has a duty to contribute “to the quality of the public debate” because “those who lower the quality in order to gain audiences harm the meaning of press freedom.”
The IAPA international delegation, in addition to Marroquín, of the Guatemala newspaper Siglo 21, included Jorge Fascetto (Diario Popular, Argentina), Alejandro Miró Quesada (Cosas, Peru), Scott Schurz (Hoosier Times, Inc., United States), Bartolomé Mitre (La Nación, Argentina), Claudio Paolillo (Búsqueda, Uruguay), María Elvira Domínguez (El País, Colombia), Jorge Canahuati (La Prensa, Honduras), Francisco Miró Quesada (El Comercio, Peru), Gilberto Urdaneta (El Regional del Zulia, Venezuela), José Roberto Dutriz (La Prensa Gráfica, El Salvador), Fabricio Altamirano (El Diario de Hoy, El Salvador), Marcela Noble Herrera (Grupo Clarín, Argentina), Ulilo Acevedo Silva (Hoy Diario del Magdalena, Colombia), Saturnino Herrero Mitjans (Grupo Clarín, Argentina), Julio E. Munoz (IAPA Executive Director) and Ricardo Trotti (IAPA Press Freedom Director).
The IAPA 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 print publications from throughout the Western Hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida. For more information please go to http://www.sipiapa.org.