BOLIVIA In the past six months there have been several incidents affecting press freedom. The first involved a dispute between Manfredo Kempf Suárez, government information minister, and Carlos Mesa, owner and operator of the network of Associated Television Journalists. They both published signed articles in the La Paz newspaper La Prensa. The second incident began on January 3 when the daily newspaper Extra, owned by Raúl Garáfulic Gutiérrez, published a story about a domestic incident involving Walter Guiteras Denis, minister of the presidency, and his wife. . Guiteras’s wife went to the police. Guiteras pressured them to cover up the event and make the records disappear. At first the minister denied everything and said the report was an effort to destabilize the government, but later he accepted the facts when the press had verified them. Guiteras threatened the owner of the newspaper that published the story and challenged him to a duel. The government acknowledged that it was aware of the threats but took no action. It did not ask for the minister’s resignation until police officers said an associate of Guiteras had bribed them. The bribe was later confirmed by the prosecutor’s office in La Paz after an investigation. Guiteras accused the owner of Garáfulic-Prisa communications group of manipulating the news for illicit reasons, although several media outlets had reported the case. After his resignation, Guiteras resumed his post of Senator and asked the Senate, which he controls, to open an investigation of him and another of the shareholders of one of the newspapers that had reported on the case. Later he hurled questionable accusations at the newspaper and its editors. When they sued him for libel he refused to give up his parliamentary immunity. The Senate concluded its investigation and declared that its conclusions would remain secret for 10 years. It confirmed Guiteras’s immunity. For this reason the suit against Guiteras was postponed for at least two years. The senator filed another libel suit against the newspaper owner for $51 million, alleging that his image had been damaged. On February 26, it was reported that relatives of Senator Guiteras Denis attacked journalist Gary Suárez Gómez, editor of the newspaper La Palabra in the city of Trinidad in Beni province. They said he had “said bad things” about the senator. The appropriate offices are still investigating this dispute between the senator and the businessman, and the executive branch has not intervened. Another subject of concern was the parts referring to the media in a proposal to change the constitution presented to the National Congress February 13 by President Hugo Banzer. The proposal is called “program for constitutional reform for citizen participation.” Of the 50 points in the proposal, one that caused concern was Article 13, which said: “Press freedom is guaranteed. Censorship and anonymity are prohibited. The law will regulate the conscience clause and the confidentiality of sources. The media are responsible if the information or opinion that they disseminate violates the rights and guarantees of the person.” Later, the government and journalists agreed to partially modify point 13, to say, “press freedom is guaranteed. Censorship is prohibited. The state guarantees the conscience clause and the confidentiality of sources.” This proposal and others will be debated in Congress which should approve a “Law on the Need for Reform,” which will be approved or rejected in the next session, which begins August 2002, and will become effective on the same date in 2007. Finally, the attempt by some senators to reinstate a bill known as the Gag Law was set aside.