El Salvador

The climate of tension related to the election campaign and an increase in violence were the most serious problems for journalism. The increasing tension between supporters of the two main political forces, ARENA and FMLN, has led to attacks on journalists, such as the one at the beginning of this month at a hotel in the capital. Alleged supporters of ARENA physically attacked television, radio and written press reporters. In the melee, Alfredo Pacheco, the radio reporter, was slightly injured and equipment of two local television stations was damaged. Later it was reported that FMLN sympathizers attacked another television team. The relationship of the candidates of the leftist party, FMLN, Mauricio Funes and Salvador Sánchez Cerén, with journalists is always tense. The party’s presidential ticket refused to participate in some programs on two television networks, TCS and Tecnovisión. They continually refuse to give interviews to the newspaper El Diario de Hoy, and they have said publicly that they will only do so when the company changes its editorial position. In addition, Funes has refused twice to attend forums sponsored by La Prensa Gráfica and put conditions on his appearance at a third. Nidia Díaz, an FMLN official and member of the Central American Parliament (PARLACEN), filed a criminal complaint for libel against a journalist for La Prensa Gráfica and asked for jail sentences for reporters and editors of the paper and those she said were involved. She argued that she was libeled in an inaccurate news story, but the paper apologized publicly three times. She continued the complaint and the case is under review in the national prosecutor’s office. This party and its representatives are still hostile to the communications media. They are always contentious and use direct or indirect ways, through the Internet, to coerce them. The freedom of information bill presented last October by the Salvadoran Foundation for Economic and Social Development (FUSADES) has not yet been taken up in Congress.