Dominican Republic

57th General Assembly Washington, DC October 12 – 16, 2001 DOMINICAN REPUBLIC There have been some incidents that tarnished press freedom, including reports of official pressure being exerted on journalists and television commentators, the shooting of a cameraman and censorship of two radio producers. Following are the main cases: In June, journalist Darío Medrano and cameraman Ramón Carmona of the local television station Color Visión, Canal 9, said “government officials” had “demanded” that station executives dismiss them. The demand reportedly was made because the two men, had broadcast on the Univisión chain, for which they are Santo Domingo correspondents, images of street disturbances during protests against the government’s economic measures that were considered “damaging” to the government.” In July, the National Commission of Public Performances ordered journalist Alvaro Arvelo and announcer Joseph Tavares not to speak on the radio for 30 days because they had violated rules of “ethics and good behavior” in their commentaries in the radio programs they direct. The censorship was lifted the next day after widespread protests from many sectors, including most media companies. In July, cameraman Cristino Rodríguez of the program “Detrás de la Noticia” in the city of Santiago was wounded by gunfire. The program is directed by Esteban Rosario who was beaten earlier in the year. Police said they were investigating an official of the government party in Santiago for the attack on Rodríguez. Coincidentally, the day after the shooting, Rosario was arrested on the orders of a judge in Santiago on charges of raping an underage girl. The case went to court and after two days of interrogation he was freed on bond. In July, “Los Hechos y Su Historia,” a program of political commentary broadcast daily on a radio and television chain owned by former legislator and ruling party official Rafael Flores Estrella and lawyer Tomás Castro, was closed. The management of the station where the program “Teleradio América” was produced said it had received “pressure” from a high government official to close the program because Flores Estrella and Castro had referred in offensive terms to the good name of President Hipólito Mejía. The Journalists Colegio asked the station’s executives to make public the name of the “high government official” who reportedly had brought the pressure, but there has been no response. There is still no solution in the disappearance of columnist and university professor Narciso González (Narcisazo) on May 26, 1994 after he harshly criticized then president Joaquín Balaguer and high military officers. He had accused them at a public meeting at the state university of committing fraud to keep power after that year’s election.