The status of press freedom has not changed. While there is no direct censorship, attacks against journalism, especially from the government, have not decreased. These attacks aim to discredit the media, as well as causing fear and censorship. In recent months, there have been physical and verbal attacks against the press and journalists, as well as frequent telephone threats. Many journalists who are harsh critics of the government have reported receiving messages on their cell phones with anonymous threats against themselves and their families. President Evo Morales has not changed his style of attacking independent journalism whenever he has the chance. He argues that the press is his enemy. He says it serves the oligarchy and U.S. imperialism, and opposes the change he supports. One of the most shocking events occurred on December 9 of last year. At a public event at the Government Palace to mark International Anti-Corruption Day, President Morales, in the middle of a speech broadcast nationwide on private and state television channels, called Raphael Ramírez of La Prensa to come stand beside him. Morales asked him to prove the truth of a headline in that day’s paper that said “Evo Negotiated a Green Light With Smugglers Two Months Ago.” The newspaper was referring to statements by an alleged leader of smugglers with 33 trucks of merchandise who said he had met with the president two months earlier to get authorization to transport the goods to Brazil. The president said that was how journalism lies and insisted that the journalist, who remained silent, prove the truth of the news. It was backed up on inside pages with photocopies of letters written by the alleged smuggler. During the same event, Evo Morales said, “two or three weeks ago, all the newspapers said on their front pages that we are terrorists, but after the racist and fascist right takes airports, assets of the government, then we see who are the real terrorists. They are the newspapers.” Neither the president nor his colleagues presented evidence of these publications. He surely was referring to the violence that occurred in September of 2008 in Pando department (province), which was placed under a state of siege after an armed conflict between government supporters and opponents that left 13 people dead. A committee of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), issued a report with the results of its investigation of what it called a “massacre.” It said it had proved the death of 20 people, however, seven of those said to be dead turned up alive. Most journalists’ organizations protested the public ridicule of Ramírez. They held demonstrations and marches throughout the country. Reporters accredited to the Government Palace placed their microphones, cameras, tape recorders and notebooks on the sidewalk in front of it in an unusual gesture criticizing the president’s attitude. This caused President Morales to announce a virtual break with journalists whom government representatives had tried earlier to isolate from media company owners, saying it was the owners who were directing information against the government rather than those described as press workers. The president decided on November 11 not to invite journalists of private media companies to his press conferences, after saying that “only 10% of journalists are worthy.” Since then he has only invited journalists from state media outlets and foreign correspondents. The independent media companies get information on the press conferences from international press agencies or the Agencia Boliviana de Información (ABI). Another attack on the press that became known internationally occurred on January 24, 2009. President Morales said at a press conference for government and foreign journalists that the U.S. television network CNN had linked him to drug trafficking and terrorism in a program in which, he said, his image was shown next to that of the president of Iran. Gloria Carrasco, CNN correspondent in Bolivia, said at the news conference that her company had sent him a letter asking on what date that occurred. Morales said he had seen the news and was telling the truth, and the CNN correspondent responded, “So am I.” The berating of Raphael Ramírez was one of 46 verbal or physical attacks on journalists recorded since October of 2008 by the Supervision and Monitoring Network on Press Freedom of the National Press Association (ANP).Three were against government media outlets and the other 42 against private ones. The attacks were with stones, shovels and explosives. There were no fatalities. The government’s campaign to discredit the press, saying it lies and not to believe it, contrasted with the results of surveys by two companies, Mori and Captura Consulting. The first said that in January the press was in second place for credibility in the country. Mori said the survey was conducted in the five provincial capitals of the country. Captura Consulting said the press was in third place in credibility after the Catholic Church and the business sector, according to a survey in the four main cities. Before September of 2007, the press had fallen to ninth or tenth place. Morales said his government would establish three dailies to defend itself against the “right-wing” press. On January 22 the daily Cambio came out, edited by journalists who work in the Social Communication Office. Morales said it “will be a real newspaper.” However it is just another political instrument of the government along with other media outlets supported with resources of the national treasury, such as the Empresa Nacional de Televisión (ENTV) network with more than 120 repeaters in the country; the national radio network Patria Nueva, with 30 stations nationwide; and the Agencia Boliviana de Información (ABI) that provides free service by Internet to all the government and private communications media in the country. These state media outlets are at the exclusive service of the government. They were the main instruments in the campaigns for a “yes” vote in the referendum that approved the new Constitution on January 25, 2009 by 62%. The government has the unconditional support of the Union Federation of Press Workers of La Paz (FSTPLP), one of the largest organizations of the profession. It accused Robert Rivard, president of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information of threatening at a seminar in Santa Cruz to take troops to Bolivia if there are more attacks on journalists. Rivard spoke at a seminar on freedom of expression organized by ANP on December 6 in Santa Cruz. A half dozen journalists attacked by government and opposition groups testified. One of them was Claudia Méndez, who was shot in her right foot during the occupation of the Cobija airport in the capital of Pando on September 13, 2008. The Bolivian courts, which are heavily influenced by the executive branch, took mild actions against ringleaders of the attacks on journalists by social movements linked to the government. A plainclothes policeman, Davd Leytón Alborta, who attacked a television cameraman with a shovel in Santa Cruz on August 19, 2008, was put in preventive detention on October 24, but released shortly thereafter under a diversion program. On January 21 a judge in La Paz ordered the detention of Adolfo Cerrudo, a government supporter who repeatedly directed attack groups against journalists and media outlets and threatened to rape a journalist of a newspaper in La Paz. Another judge ordered Edgar Mora, a civic leader, to stop hounding journalists. Mora directed attack groups against journalists who went to a jail in La Paz where the governor of the department of Pando, Leopoldo Fernández had been held since September of 2008. The “popular civic committee’s” group took up a position in front of the jail’s main door to prevent Fernández and his colleagues, who were also detained in Pando, from fleeing or being released. This group pushed and threatened journalists who arrived there. The National Press Association (ANP) received the support of many national and international associations for its demand that Paragraph II of Article 108 of the proposed Constitution be revoked. It is considered an attack on democracy and the freedom of press and expression, since it requires that all news and information disseminated by the media adhere to the principles of truth and responsibility. A legislative agreement determined that if the requirement of truth and responsibility is to be retained “these principles shall be implemented according to the norms and ethics and self-regulation of journalists and media company organizations and their law.” It sets aside the concept that any government authority could arbitrarily decide what is true or responsible in a news or opinion article. On March 3, Pedro Pérez, news director and anchor of Canal 15RTV in the eastern city Montero, said he had received anonymous threats from people who attacked him and his cameraman Erick Balcázar when they covered a land invasion outside Montero on February 9. A dozen people beat them with clubs. Pérez, who filed a complaint with the police, had a fractured foot. At the same time William Wasase and cameraman Mariano Delgado of Angel TV were attacked.