Puerto Rico

57th General Assembly Washington, DC October 12 – 16, 2001 PUERTO RICO The media continue to seek greater access to coverage of events on Vieques Island. Several journalists have been attacked while trying to report. Some court cases involving journalists were settled. There has been progress in the discussion of a bill to grant the media more access to judicial information and other official documents, without need for a prior court order. There was also a dispute involving the request for access to court documents in the divorce suit filed by the governor of Puerto Rico. On August 2, Thomas Van Hourtyvre, a photographer with The Associated Press’ San Juan bureau, was shot in the arm with a rubber bullet fired by a soldier. Van Hourtyvre was covering a protest demonstration by a group of youths attempting to enter Campamento García, an area on Vieques declared off limits by the military. Most local media have prohibited their journalists from entering restricted areas on Vieques, to avoid their being arrested and facing criminal charges. A local court dismissed the libel suit against El Vocero newspaper, filed by an individual whose published photo had identified him as a drug trafficker arrested by federal law enforcement officers during a drug raid. The court ruled that cases where the immediacy of a news story is preponderant, such as in one resulting from a law enforcement raid, journalists are under no additional obligation to verify their information beyond the data already provided by the agents in charge of the operation. Puerto Rican Governor Sila María Calderón filed for divorce from her husband of 23 years, Adolfo Kranz. The court has sealed the documents in the suit and Gov. Calderón has refused comment. In a related action, Kranz, an insurance company executive, filed a formal complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) against Televicentro Corp., Canal 4’s owner LIN Television and Antulio “Kobo” Santarrosa, whose stage character is known as “La Comay.” Kranz accuses Santarrosa of uttering malicious lies by saying that he had had an extramarital affair. In July, several journalists who were attacked by a group of police officers while covering a court hearing for six members of the Tactical Operations Unit, accused of police brutality, were ordered to appear before an administrative hearing at the general headquarters of the Puerto Rican police. That case is still in court.