BOLIVIA It is not surprising that incidents of extremism and intimidation directed against the Bolivian press, emanating from echelons of the government, have occurred since the lAPA Midyear Meeting in Guatemala in March - even as the Bolivian government drafts a projected "Law on Social Communication Media." On April 16, reporter Judith Muñoz of radio station Nueva América and photographer David García of the newspaper Primera Plana, both of La Paz, were detained by security forces on charges of having been Iinked to terrorist activities in 1989. The Press Workers Union of La Paz described the arrests, during which the two journalists were handcuffed and blindfolded, as a violation of human rights and a kidnapping. As a result of the incident, the Latin American Federation of Journalists is considering asking guarantees from Bolivian President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada for the practice of journalism in his country. The two detainees were freed following the filing of a habeas corpus petition on their behalf. On June 7, the Chamber of Deputies approved a resolution rejecting an article in the La Paz newspaper La Razón which the deputies deemed injurious to the dignity of the women of Bolivia. Passage of the resolution preceded a debate which the deputies took advantage of to brand the work of journalists as "slanted" and "irresponsible," and to express the expectation that the resolution will serve as "a precedent to put the brakes on the press." The Bolivian press has recently criticized what it has called deception and lack of parliamentary interest in the treatment of such important issues as the education reform which has been imposed on the country. Just days later, President Sánchez de Lozada branded as having "little or no objectivity" articles disseminated by the media. He charged that journalists have turned themselves into final judges of the prestige of individuals and institutions. Possibly as a consequence of these stated postures on the part of politicians, the journalists' union organizations onJuly 12 declared, at the conclusion of a joint meeting, their concern and alarm at the "political intolerance" that "threatens freedom of the press." The Eighth Extraordinary Congress of the Federation of Press Workers, he1d on July 28 in the city of Riberalta, denounced the "unscrupulous use" of Artic1e 10 of the new Public Ministry Law. The meeting charged that Article 10 is being used to threaten journalists, under pain of legal penalties, into violating the confidentiality of information by revealing their sources, thus contradicting Bolivia's 1925 Press Law, which remains in full force. Along the same Iines, the Press Workers Congress denounced "the control of information and communication which, through the Ministry of Social Communication, the state television channel, and networks and private monopolies, the neo-liberal government is carrying out an unscrupulous exercise in propaganda, thus undermining the social and cultural function of communication." On August 17, the chairman of this committee addressed the minister of govemment, at the request of an interested party, to express his concem at threats directed at the La Paz newspaper Jornada and to request an investigation and a search for those responsible. On August 25, the Supreme Court upheld the validity of the Press Law, which provides a special legal framework for dealing with alleged errors or offenses on the part of the press. The court ruled that a prosecutor and a judge in La Paz had acted arbitrarily in involving the criminal courts in a libel suit filed by a politician against joumalist Wilson Garcia Merida, of the Cochabamba newspaper Los Tiempos. In Sucre in early August, a citizen believed to be acting for Bolivian ex-dictator Luis García Meza filed a lawsuit in the civil courts against the newspaper Correo del Sur. The action demanded - with the support of the public prosecutor and the criminal judge of the local judicial circuit - the disclosure of the authorship and source of a news report about the case. The newspaper's defense attomeys, acting under terms of the Law of the Press, concluded that neither the prosecution nor the judiciary merited a reply; the lawsuit remains in status quo. On September 5, the pollce physically attacked at least six joumalists and a cameraman who were covering an anti-govemment street demonstration in La Paz. The incident spurred the Association of Joumalists to constitute itself into a legal party in order to force to trial a special police group under the command of a captain who was identified and ultimately suspended from his duties. In spite of all this, the official majority in the Chamber of Deputies blocked an attempt there to pass a draft resolution calling on the Executive Branch to investigate the attack on the journalists and to identify and punish those responsible. On September 6, while a series of protests by peasants and coca producers was preoccupying the country, the Minister of Social Communication accused the media of disseminating distorted information about what was going on. On September 9, on occasion of the inauguration of a new slate of officers of the Press Workers Union of La Paz, Bolivian Vice President Víctor Hugo Cárdenas - serving temporarily as acting president of the nation - received complaints from the unionists about acts of violence and pressures against the press, which one of them called state-sponsored terrorismo Cárdenas responded that "govemment, society, the media, absolutely everyone, must leam to accept the challenge of coexisting under the rules of the game and the democratic system." On September 20, the commander of the Bolivian Navy, Julio Molina, who was facing a court martial for alleged sexual harassment, rape and abuse of power, accused the press of having caused a "big scandal," harming the good name of his family. He asked the media to show respect for his office and to handle the information "with much delicacy." In the midst of this media climate, on September 25 the Minister of Social Communication announced that his department was compiling data preparatory to drafting a possible new press law. He said that as a first step, the ministry would look at similar laws in other countries, then call a meeting with representatives of the Bolivian media so that they could express their points of view. In a bid to justify the proposed updating of current legislation, the minister argued: "We have a Press Law dating from 1925, but today have an information technology that we would never have imagined." On August 31, the editors of the country's major newspapers met and decided to resurrect the National Press Association, dissolved in 1983, to be able to act collectively in confronting the problems the Bolivian press faces.