Legal guarantees for the practice of journalism improved with the decriminalization of defamation and "injuria," or insult, in news or opinion reports about matters of public interest. These offenses have carried jail sentences since 1934. The criminal penalties for attacking the good name of a foreign chief of state were also eliminated. The law retained the crime of “desacato,” or insult of public officials, but enforcement ostensibly was limited. The new law, approved by Parliament in June, asks judges to follow case law of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (CIDH) in matters of press freedom, and it includes the concept of actual malice in trials, although the burden of proof is on the journalist, rather than the plaintiff. The new law has already had its first test. Judge Roberto Timbal shelved a defamation and “injuria " complaint by the principal of a public high school against a group of teachers who had criticized her, based on the legal argument that they had not acted with actual malice. The government signed an agreement to compensate Carlos Dogliani, a journalist, for a five-month prison sentence for four defamation offenses handed down by the Supreme Court three years ago. He had reported and criticized a decision by a former municipal governor. The government admitted that the sentence was based on laws that are “incompatible” with respect for human rights. At the same time, there were potentially contradictory statements such as an announcement by the government of President Tabaré Vázquez promoting a law to regulate the content of radio and television programs. Education and Culture Minister María Simon disclosed that the official plan, among other things, would demand that 50 percent of the content of television programs be Uruguayan. Hugo Achúgar said the project would establish a “cultural mediator” who “far from censoring, will ensure press freedom and cultural diversity.” He said that this “cannot stay in the hands of private enterprise.” The government senator, José Mujica, who is leading in the polls before the election in which he is running against opposition candidate Luis Alberto Lacalle on November 29, argued that the government’s impact on radio and television content should be increased. Mujica wants to “impose on the communication system” permanent publicity campaigns to “develop collective values.” The government would “demand” and “require” “minimum amounts of national production” on radio and television, similar to the model established in Argentina in the ´40s by former president Juan Domingo Péron. Government officials continued their verbal harassment of the media and independent journalists and critics. The president even stated that police reports published by the media were “disgusting and degrading.” Rafael Paternain, director of the office on violence and criminality in the Interior Ministry, said, “the media reproduce, consolidate and take the lack of public safety to an extreme without almost any cultural or political benefit.” Mujica was an active participant in criticism of the work done by the media and journalists. On March 13, the Tupamaro senator, Lucia Topolansky of the governing Frente Amplio (Broad Front), attacked the independent weekly Búsqueda after it reported that José Mujica, the official candidate for the presidential nomination, would choose Senator Danilo Astori, his former competitor in an internal party election, as his running mate. “Everything reported in Búsqueda is a lie—a colossal whopper. They have published things to sell newspapers,” Topolansky said. Nevertheless, Astori was named the vice presidential candidate in July. On April 9, Enrique Rivero, assistant to Interior Minister Daisy Tourné and spokesman for the ministry´s press office, wrote on his Facebook page that he was “very angry” with the daily El País. On April 10, Eduardo Fernández, general secretary of the Socialist Party, accused El País of “total opposition to the government” and carrying out a “campaign” against Tourné. He suggested that the newspaper “invents” news, and alluded to a report that the minister would be relieved of her duties. In fact, Tourné was dismissed even before the date in the newspaper report. On April 12, the archbishop of Montevideo, Nicolás Cotugno acknowledged the crime problem, but questioned newspaper coverage of police news. On April 15, the newspaper El País reported that Judge Aída Vera Barreto sentenced a man for "injuria," or insult, for something written on an Internet page. It was the first sentence for "injuria" for content published on the Web. It had to do with messages that had ratings of executives of a private company written by the brother of a former employee who had been fired. On April 17, Eduardo Barreneche of El País was threatened by Interior Ministry spokesman Enrique Rivero while he was covering a policemen´s demonstration inside the ministry. The newspaper reported that Rivero had a tense conversation with the journalist and tried to eject him from the public place. On April 24, José Mujica attacked El País on his Web page, accusing it of “hiding” statements he made on Uruguay’s dispute with Argentina about the installation of a cellulose plant on the bank of the Uruguay River. Mujica said the daily was conducting a “journalistic operation” against him. On April 28, prosecutor Ana María Tellechea requested a defamation case against Álvaro Alfonso because of a passage in the book Secrets of the Communist Party of Uruguay. In it he refers to the conduct of a Communist leader during the military dictatorship of 1973-1985, She argued that the right to a good name takes priority over the right to report the news. On May 6, Judge Rolando Vomero placed Alfonso on probation for defamation. On April 30, Foreign Minister Gonzalo Fernández confessed to a group of journalists that he “detests” the press. “I am with you, but I intensely detest you.” On May 12, José Mujica said the press “looks for what is spectacular” and “shuns what is deep and could provide some value to people.” On June 18, prosecutor Dora Domenech asked for the file in a lawsuit for defamation and "injuria " that boxer Matias Giuduci had filed against Ramiro Rodríguez Villamil (“Kid Gragea”), a columnist for Búsqueda after he called Giuduci a “wimp” in one of his humor columns. The prosecutor said, “humor is widely considered not to have the intention of insulting.” Judge Rolando Vomero agreed with the prosecutor´s request and shelved the complaint. On August 1, a niece of former military dictator Gregorio Álvarez filed a civil suit against Ana María Mizrahi of the state television channel, because of an interview she did with Tupamaro leader José Luis Rodríguez. In the interview, he acknowledged killing Col. Artigas Álvarez, brother of the former dictator and father of the plaintiff, in the ‘70s. On August 2, after Búsqueda published a report that the government´s Maciel Hospital had a contract with the wife of government senator, Eleuterio Fernández Huidobro even after proving the overbilling of millions, Fermández Huidobro called the weekly´s journalists “rotten souls.” He accused them of “conducting an election campaign” and “defaming” his family and of having “manipulated the news.” The report resulted in a public scandal and three parallel government investigations. After the news was confirmed, the administrator and the assistant director of the hospital were removed. On August 13 the government proposed a law to limit election advertising in the media. It was disputed by the National Broadcasters Association of Uruguay (Andebu) and was not approved. On August 17, during the presentation of a report by the government and the Latin American Center for Human Economy (CLAEH), several government officials said the media have “high-level responsibility” for the level of crime because of news coverage of it. On September 11, Judge Soledad Nin ordered the Soriano department council to provide all the information about its spending to the newspaper Centenario of Cardona (Mercedes). The judge ruled in response to a freedom of information request by newspaper representatives after the council refused to hand over the public information voluntarily. On September 13, José Mujica, the Frente Amplio´s candidate said in a book of interviews that he believes the government should require television stations to broadcast content ordered by the government. “It could require the communication system to carry constantly a campaign to develop values favorable to society,” Mujica said. He added that “in the end the guys are benefitting from a medium that is public,” and therefore “it is necessary to demand a minimum space for national production.” Mujica gave as an example the policy of Juan Domingo Perón in Argentina who decreed in the ´40s that “30% of broadcasting had to be of domestic origin.” On October 6, President Tabaré Vázquez criticized the media in a public appearance for making police reports “disgusting and degrading.” On October 9, the general secretary of the City Council of Montevideo acknowledged to the departmental council that the content of the municipal channel Tevé Ciudad is defined by political criteria. This caused a harsh debate with opposition council members. On October 19, the Executive Branch approved a decree “exhorting” public agencies to obey the freedom of information law. According to the decree, the agencies must practice “active transparency” and publish information on salaries, costs, public bidding, awards and officials, among other items.