Miami (May 11, 2011).—In a letter sent today to Argentina’s President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) urged her government “to guarantee, respect and show tolerance for the multiple and diverse voices from social sectors, news media and journalists as an essential condition for sustaining democratic life.”
The IAPA message, signed by the organization’s president, Gonzalo Marroquín, president of the Guatemala City, Guatemala, newspaper Siglo 21, referred to the conclusions reached by an IAPA international delegation in Buenos Aires on May 4 and 5 that established that “press freedom is deteriorating in Argentina.”
The mission was sent under a mandate from the IAPA’s membership meeting in San Diego, California, last month, with the objective of investigating the state of the news media, journalists and press freedom in the South American country.
Following is the full text of the note:
“On behalf of the Inter American Press Association I wish to respectfully express to you our deepest concern at the decline of press freedom in your country, a fact that we verified last week during a visit to Buenos Aires as part of an international delegation that I had the honor to lead.
“Our preliminary conclusions, which are part of the public domain and which we announced at a press conference, were first and foremost designed to call upon your administration to guarantee, respect and show tolerance for the multiple and diverse voices from social sectors, news media and journalists as an essential condition for sustaining democratic life.
“During our visit we had the opportunity to meet with representatives of the branches of government and with members of non-governmental organizations, labor unions, religious groups and of the press. We found that the serious restrictions on press freedom that we have been denouncing in our biannual reports and resolutions has, indeed, increased.
“Our attention is drawn to ongoing complaints over the climate of confrontation that surrounds press-government relations and of the political polarization which is far distant from the ideals that nourish a democracy.
“Specifically, we wish to draw your attention to the discriminatory use of official advertising to reward and punish news media, the creation of publicly- and privately-owned networks of media and journalists to support your remaining in government, the campaigns to discredit independent and critical journalists, the official failure to obey court rulings that enabled the blockading of distribution of the newspapers Clarín, La Nación, Olé, La Voz del Interior and Día a Día, and the non-compliance with a court order to restore official advertising to Editorial Perfil.
“We also wish to inform you that we have appealed to federal legislators to follow through on a law for access to public information, already passed in the Senate, as well as regulations on standards for the placement of official advertising.
“Finally, based on the principles of the Declaration of Chapultepec which establish that “no people or society can be free without freedom of expression,” I respectfully urge you to stand behind the executive and legislative changes that are needed for freedom of expression and democracy to be strengthened.”
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.