URUGUAY The approach of general elections for president, senators and deputies unfortunately has had negative effects on press freedom in Uruguay. The Uruguayan Press Association, a journalists' union, publicly protested the treatment of journalists by the security staff of the presidential candidate of the Progressive Encounter-Broad Front, a coalition of leftist groups that is one of three political forces capable of victory in the elections. An officer of the association said the candidate sent a letter of explanation, but the association was not satisfied because the letter expressed" a willingness to have a dialogue and try to establish rules for the future, but was not a formal apology." More serious and dangerous, however, is the placement of government advertising which in recent months has returned to a discriminatory practice that is harmful to press freedom. The IAPA has received very serious reports, including some that have been made public, about arbitrary handling of these public resources that in some cases could cause the closing of a publication and in others could provide profits and favoritism with no professional or technical grounds. In Uruguay state agencies are among the largest advertisers. During these times of economic recession they comprise an even larger proportion, which makes the situation more serious. This problem has been presented to the president and some effort has been made to improve the situation. In some cases it was successful, but in others that are considered very serious it has had no noticeable effect. The Uruguayan legal system provides for autonomy for state agencies which makes intervention to stop this type of discrimination difficult, even for the government. There also has been pressure on the media and on journalists by an Argentine-owned bank. The media reported news from Argentina linking one of the owners of the bank to a case under investigation concerning the Banco de la Nacion and IBM. There have been no developments concerning the modification or elimination of articles in the new Code of Criminal Procedures that are damaging to press freedom. According to information obtalned by IAPA, some legislators are willing to postpone the date the code takes effect. from next February to a year later. Court cases against the press are still being brought in courts throughout the country. Judges, mayors, municipal officials and even police officials have joined lawyers and ordinary citizens in complaints against journalists and the media for reporting news in the legitimate exercise of their profession. Usually the cases begin with a demand for publication of a denial of what has been published to exercise the right of reply under Uruguayan law. The judges tend to be very generous in granting these requests, requiring the media to publish versions they do not agree with. In addition, the demands usually turn to requests for astronomic damages, and sometimes even criminal penalties, which the judges so far have handled with objectivity and good judgment. Nevertheless, the loopholes in the press law hold a Sword of Damocles over the heads of journalists. A positive precedent to curb these excesses came in May when a judge in a case against the Montevideo newspaper La RepUblica ruled that there is a difference between news and legal proceedings, exempting a news report from the linguistic and factual precision that must be adhered to in legal documents.