ARGENTINA Press freedom has been besieged by legal cases, physical attacks and efforts to overburden the media financially. Among the outstand-ing issues are the still-unsolved murder of photographer Jose Luis Cabezas, numerous judicial decisions that threaten freedom of expression and that have revived the controversial "right of reply" and proposed legislation to impose consumption taxes on the media. Unfortunately, the Cabezas case has almost been forgotten. There has been no significant development in the investigation. Neither the murderer nor those behind the murder have been convicted. There have been no developments since the death of businessman Alfredo Yabran, widely believed in Argentina to be responsible for the crime. Some private security guards have been detained for that crime. Other complaints have been made repeatedly against the inconsistent actions of the courts. Court cases have been brought against many journalists and media companies, resulting in suspended prison sentences and significant awards of damages to the plaintiffs. Another problem is that use of the "right of reply" is resuming. The other threat to the survival of the media in our country is the government's renewed interest in imposing a tax on advertising, a significant change in the administration's position. President Carlos Menem said in 1990 to the Executive Committee of ADEPA that exemption from the value added tax (VAT) "is not a privilege, but legal protection for press freedom." During this period there were numerous attacks on newspapers and journalists by private parties and union members. One positive development was the adoption of the doctrine of "actual malice" by the Supreme Court and some lower courts. Particularly noteworthy is a decision by a judge in General Roca, in Rio Negro province, absolving the editor of the morning newspaper Rio Negro and one of its journalists in a libel suit brought by provincial and municipal officials. The judge stated that the information published was true and backed up by evidence. She held while there may have been some "secondary and irrelevant" details that "might appear to be distorted," this distortion was not intentional. Another serious matter that should be mentioned involves the newspaper El Dia of la Plata, which was the victim of discrimination by high authorities of Buenos Aires province, including the former national justice minister and the current national justice secretary. The two officials ordered the police not to give information to the morning newspaper. March 1: The newspaper La Gaceta of San Miguel de Tucuman reported that two of its journalists, Ruben Rod6 and Carlos Abreu, received written threats from a supposed group called "Relatives of Those Killed by Subversives." There is a climate of intimidation in the province following the discovery that Governor Antonio D. Bussi had a secret bank account in Switzerland. March 3: Governor Antonio Domingo Bussi told a half million supporters gathered in front of the Government House of Tucuman that the Buenos Aires media were orchestrating a campaign against him. March 5: A court in Salta province imposed a four-month suspended sentence for libel on the journalist Mario Ernesto Pena, owner of the radio station FM Aries and editor of the defunct newspaper Eco del Norte. The lawsuit was brought by the chief justice of the Salta court, Justice, Rodolfo Irtubey, whom Pena had described as "servile and obsequious" in an article published in 1994 and on the radio. March 6: The automobile of Bernardo Balbuena, editor of the newspaper, El Diario, de Resistencia, of Chaco, was sprayed with fuel and burned outside the newspaper. This was the second attack against an executive of El Diario. March 7: Unknown persons entered the office of the newspaper Provincia 23 of Tierra del Fuego and took a large amount of documentation for an investigation of the provincial government. March 9: Two days after the damage to the newspaper's office, Norberto Coll, managing editor of Provincia 23, received a death threat. March 9: Adrian Caballero, a Public Works Department foreman attacked journalist Manuel Romani, anchor of the news program "Canal 4 Video Sur" with a machete in San Carlos Centro, Santa Fe province, while he was filming a municipal truck that had fallen in a ditch. March 19: Nerio Quinones, news editor of the newspaper Hora Cero in Parana, complained to Judge Susana Medina de Rizzo that a retired military officer about whom he had written critical articles, had threatened him and his family. The officer is a member of the political party of former Col. Mohamed Ali Seineldin. March 25: Editorial Perfil was ordered by the National Appeals Chamber, Civil branch, to pay $150,000 plus interest to President Carlos Saul Menem for having "violated his right of privacy" in an article published in the magazine Noticias. The article described the president's relationship, which has not been denied, with provincial legislator Formosa Martha Meza, and which resulted in the birth of Carlos Nair Menem, now 16. The article also described the gifts the president had given Meza and the progress of her political career as a result of the relationship. March 28: Civil judge Mabel de los Santos, ordered the journalist Bernardo Neustadt of television channel Telefe and Zidanelio Pacheco de Maronese to pay 80,000 pesos for "moral damages" and "injury and damages" to civil judge Elisa Matilde Diaz de Vivar. On a television program in 1993. Maronese had said something Judge de los Santos considered an offense to the honor of Judge Diaz de Vivar. April 6: The Supreme Court upheld the order that the newspaper Norte de Resistencia in Chaco pay 30,000 pesos to an official of the Banco del Chaco for "moral harm." Eleven years earlier, the newspaper published a letter brought to the newsroom that criticized the work of the chief of legal advisors of the bank, Juan Carlos Rudaz Bisson. April 9: The daily newspaper Pagina 12 of Buenos Aires reported that one of its columnists was threatened with a note from the president of the Supreme Court asking him to confirm or correct comments made to the media and hand over all evidence he may have for a possible criminal charge. The case concerns publication of information that some time ago the court paid too much for computer equipment that was the slowest and had the least capacity of any that were available for that price. April 9: The correspondent in Peru of the Argentine newspaper Clar{n, Angel Paez, receives continuos death threats, is followed and filmed, and his telephones are tapped. April 15: About 20 FM radio stations of Salta province present a demand for their rights before a federal court to stop the implementation of Presidential Decree 310798, that calls for the closing of "unauthorized" stations and the seizure of their equipment. April 17: • The Court of Justice of the Argentine Republic ruled in an almost unanimous vote that "the right of reply is constitutional." • In Posadas, Misiones province, photographer Sixto Farina of the magazine Mensaje was detained and transported violently to Section 1 of the police, where the officer in charge confirmed that he was being detained. • At the opening of the Book Fair in Buenos Aires, Channel 11 cameramen Julio Barrios and Javier Soria were beaten up by people chanting slogans supporting the president. • The press union of Santa Cruz province denounced the death threats against journalists Lorenzo Gonzalez, Andres Flores and Pablo Casiuk who were covering the mining conflict in the area around Rio Turbio. April 20: The newspaper Pagina 12 reported that one of its reporters, Andres Klipphan, had received repeated death threats. He was investigating corruption and crimes in the police department. April 22: The Justicialist Party bloc in the Senate approved a bill containing criticism of information published by the newspaper La Nacion. April 24: A judge in Mendoza gave a "three-day suspended sentence" to a photographer of the newspaper Los Andes of Mendoza, Delto Eduardo Rodriguez. Rodriguez made a counter-complaint against police personnel for "humiliating" him. Although he had identified himself with press credentials, they forced him to undress when he was detained at a police station Oct. 4,1997. April 26: C6rdoba judge Daniel Molinari Moyano sentenced Luis Eduardo Remonda, editor of the newspaper La Voz del Interior, to a one-month suspended sentence and a 150,000 peso fine for "moral damages" for allegedly libeling a manufacturer of slot machines. May 15: Three Argentine journalists were accused anonymously of links to drug trafficking. They are Marcelo Longobardi, a radio journalist; Hector Damico, editor of the magazine Noticias (of Perfil publishers); and Jorge Lanata, all of Buenos Aires. June 10: The Press Circle of Santiago del Estero reported that journalist Julio Campoya of FM Popular had received death threats. June 12: The Civil Appeals Court ordered the former economy minister, Domingo Cavallo, to pay journalist Bernardo Neustadt 15,000 pesos in damages for moral harm plus almost three years of interest for having said he could be influenced by a businessman whom Cavallo described as "head of the mafia" of a postal service and for calling Neustadt a member of his cabal. This is the first time a government official has been held responsible for insulting a journalist. July 14: Two reporters from Rafaela in Santa Pi' province, received telephone death threats. They are Nilo Peretto, of the newspaper Castellanos and Elias Roberto Sanchez of LT28 of Radio Rafaela, who were investigating the murder of police official Guido Coria which occurred at the beginning of January, 1998. August 2: Two judges, one from Rio Negro and one from Buenos Aires, cleared journalists accused of libeling the editor of the newspaper Rio Negro, Julio Rajneri, and, in other cases, journalists of the newspaper La Prensa. On the other hand. a verdict was handed down against the owners of the newspaper El Cimarrón in San Juan barring them from reporting on challenges to the director of a housing cooperative. August 7: Rodrigo Javier Garcia, a journalist in Metan in Salta province, received a death threat during the program "Cablenoticias" on the channel Metan Televisora Color. August 14: The national senator, Augusto Alasino (PJ of Entre Rios), sent a letter to the editor of the newspaper La Naci6n of Buenos Aires calling on the paper to pay him 100,000 pesos for alleged libel against his person, saying, "if not, I will bring a lawsuit against the newspaper." August 19: Two policemen of the city Viedma were sentenced to two- and three-year suspended sentences for attacking journalists Walter Gutierrez, Nestor Busso and Enrique Camino. The two, a precinct police chief and a lower-ranking official, also were suspended from service for twice the length of the sentence. It is the first time a conviction has been obtained for an attack on journalists while exercising their profession. August 28: The Salta branch of the Press Workers Federation reported that the journalist Gustavo Fantozzi of Salta's Channel 11, was threatened by members of the entourage of Graciela Fernandez Meijide, a candidate for the presidential nomination, in the presence of several children. August 29: Press associations reported that leaders of the Newspaper and Magazine Vendors Union in Santa Rosa, La Pampa province, interfered in the distribution of the newspaper La Arena. ADEPA expressed its concern about this serious incident, a violation of Article 161 of the Penal Code, which provides for imprisonment for whoever "impedes or obstructs the distribution of a book or newspaper." August 31: Newspaper unions announced that they will present complaints to international organizations about a court order that journalist Eduardo Aliverti pay damages to a former government official. Aliverti was ordered to pay $20,000 in damages in a case brought by the former health minister in the Radical government, Juan Jose Ramos. Sept. 1: The Supreme Court upheld an order validating the "right of reply" for an individual and against the company Editorial Atlantida. There have been six similar orders in the last three years. The Argentine press condemned the order, indicating that it "represents another step toward censorship." Sept. 24: Shipyard workers of Buenos Aires attacked the offices of the newspaper El Dia of La Plata. The demonstrators, who were demanding raises and better working conditions, threw tiles and broke the newspapers display windows. Sept. 30: Bolivian policemen in Yacuiba, Bolivia, surrounded an Argentine reporter and photographer from the newspaper El Tribuna of Salta and Jujuy, preventing them from working. Later they were expelled from the country. Both journalists and a television technician from a Buenos Aires channel, who had entered Bolivia legally, were covering the investigation of the murder of two Argentine border policemen. Oct. 5: Unidentified people shot at the home of journalist Jose Luis Pages, chief police reporter of the newspaper El Litoral of Santa Fe. Pages was investigating crimes committed by former policemen and military men during the military regime. October 6: The front of the offices of the newspaper La Calle of Avellaneda, Buenos Aires, was attacked with paint bombs. October 21: The Supreme Court ruled against the editor of the magazine Humor, Tomas Miguel Sanz, and upheld a one-month suspended sentence against him for something published in 1991. The ruling had been appealed by the journalist's lawyers, but the court upheld it. The suit was brought by the president's brother, Senator Eduardo Menem, because the magazine reported that a Uruguayan magazine had said he deposited $500,000 in banks in Uruguay. Senator Menem's denial was published in the same edition of the magazine November 7: Radio reporter Hector Torres of General Mosconi in Salta province complained to the courts that he had received death threats and that unknown persons had burned his car, which was parked in front of his house. Torres, who has been reporting critically about a local official, Miguel Angel Garcia, said he has received several telephone threats saying, "Stop it. Shut up, because if you don't, you and your family will die." Meanwhile, there is serious concern in the press about a bill being considered in Congress that would establish sanctions for certain aspects of investigative journalism. Specifically, the bill would prohibit the use of hidden tape recorders, cameras and microphones, which could, theoretically, affect the "right to privacy." These methods have been used to uncover numerous cases of corruption. For example, on Nov. 13, Arturo Lafalla, governor of Mendoza province, announced that an extortion plot has been documented, thanks to a hidden camera. Two officials of his government attempted to extort money from businessmen who had won a bid to provide computer equipment to the province.