This period was marked by the state of health of President Fernando Lugo, who in August last year was diagnosed as having lymphatic cancer, and by the start of the political campaign leading up to the 2013 general elections, raising anti-press tensions. Although there were attempts to manipulate reporting on the diagnosis and the vicissitudes of the president’s medical treatment the information was provided without any major obstacles. On November 2 the Chamber of Deputies postponed without setting a new date debate on a bill for a law on access to public information. The bill was initiated by the Access to Public Information Steering Committee (GIAI), which is made up of some 17 non-governmental organizations, and the Public Works and Communications Ministry. The group had launched its campaign for enactment of the law in 2003. Sharp differences of opinion occurring among various sectors of the government – notably between a group of leftist parties and movements and a traditional center-right party – have generated attacks on the press. Of particular concern have been those against the newspaper ABC Color and its owner, Aldo Zuccolillo, made by the political secretary of the Tekojojá People’s Party, Aníbal Carrillo, who accused the paper of spreading “myths and lies” about current political matters. ABC Color reporter Jorge Torres Romero was sued for libel by National Emergency Minister Camilo Ernesto Soares , who has been charged with the alleged criminal offenses of undermining confidence and adulteration of public documents. Torres had begin publishing the results of his investigations into alleged unlawful actions in the National Emergency Ministry regarding the issuance of false invoices to justify payment of travel allowances, bumping up the prices of foodstuffs for use in emergencies, and the appointment of large numbers of members of Soares’ political party. On the basis of these reports the Attorney General’s Office filed charges against Soares, it being estimated that 4,200 million guaranis (approximately $1 million) of public funds was involved. In December the former governor of the Bolivian state of Tarija, Mario Cossío, asked the Paraguayan government for asylum, alleging political persecution by Bolivia’s President Evo Morales. The Fernando Lugo administration granted the request in mid-January. The decision gave rise to a series of virulent attacks on ABC Color, it being accused of having influenced the government to accede to Cossío’s request. The accusations were made by spokesmen of the Evo Morales government, certain Bolivian media and leftist groups and parties belonging to the Paraguayan government. At a time when Paraguay’s National Refugee Council (CONARE) was reviewing Cossío’s request Bolivian Transparency Minister Nardy Suxo traveled to Asunción to urge its rejection. According to statements made by Paraguayan senator Zulma Gómez, with whom she met about the matter, Suxo questioned the role of the Paraguayan media, accusing them of having “sold out.” On January 12 a device exploded and another was deactivated near the premises of National Television System channel Canal 9 Cerro Corá in Asunción. The self-styled Paraguayan People’s Army (EPP) claimed responsibility in a pamphlet found near the TV station which warned “the bourgeois press” that it had become “a military objective of our revolutionary forces.” An Asunción appeals court overturned a ruling by Judge Blanca Rojas that left without effect the award of damages amounting to 500 million guaranis (just over $100,000) against ABC Color reporter Luis Verón in a claim filed by architect Luis Fernando Pereira Javaloyes. Verón had in his published reports accused the plaintiff of causing harm to the national heritage in restoration work carried out on a colonial-era church. On Thursday, March 3 Merardo Romero, an announcer with La Voz de Itakyry radio station in the town of the same name in Alto Paraná province, was murdered in front of his children. He was active in the Colorado Party division Esperanza Colorada, which elected its new officers on March 13. His widow, Gloria Torres, charged that a former local town council member and a political rival of Romero had committed the murder. The case is currently under police and judicial investigation. Virginia Villar Burgos, deputy police chief in San Pedro, filed a libel suit against the ABC Color correspondent there, Omar Acosta, concerning a series of allegations linking her to physical harassments during the time she was police chief in the town of Guayaybí. The denunciations led to her dismissal, although she was then appointed security guard of the family of the San Pedro provincial governor, José Ledesma. On February 8 Judge Elvio Rubén Ovelar ordered an oral trial to be held from June 21 to 24 this year concerning a suit brought by a former model and current businesswoman, Zuni Castiñeira, against ABC Color reporter Sandra López. She is calling for the payment of 2,000 million guaranis (some $450,000) for having been “defamed and libeled” in some reports that linked her to questionable payments made to her by the Paraguayan Communications Company (COPACO) by its then head of administration, Víctor Bogado, current speaker of the Chamber of Deputies. ABC Color reporter Roque González Vera was sued for libel by the head of the Authentic Radical Liberal Party (PLRA), Benigno Villanuevas Salinas. He was alleged to have been responsible for an invasion of the Paso Bravo National Park. In addition, it was suspected that he had defrauded a group of Brazilian investors interested in acquiring lands adjoining the protected area. An Asunción appeals court upheld the acquittal of ABC Color reporter Rosendo Duarte, correspondent in the town of Salto del Guairá, Canindeyó province, on a charge of libel brought by local Colorado Party leader Marciano Godoy. The decision upheld that issued by Judge Elsa García on December 29, 2009. Godoy had brought charges against the journalist following a series of reports uncovering cases of influence peddling, payment for protection and covering up smuggling through the placement of “trusted” police officers in key places. Work as a journalist in areas on the Paraguay-Brazil border continues to be carried out in an environment of great precariousness and threats to the safety of reporters there. On November 3 the ABC Color correspondent in Curuguaty, Canindeyú province, Pablo Medina, was threatened by a politician from the Colorado Party after he reported on disputes over control of drug trafficking in the region. Interior Minister Rafael Filizzola ordered that the journalist be given a personal bodyguard. In early February an announcer with radio station 102.3 FM in Pedro Juan Caballero, Amambay province, Daysi Alonso Brítez, reported having received on her mobile phone threats to kill her son. She attributed the calls to a local politician.