Reunión de Medio Año

Puebla, México

8 al 11 de marzo del 2013

The climate of press freedom was strained after the government adopted the reform of the Telecommunications General Law, which extends radio and television station licenses to 20 years. Two legislators had asked President Otto Pérez to veto the changes to the law, which proposes to penalize persons that use the radio-electric spectrum without the authorization of the Telecommunications Superintendent’s Office. Congressman Almícar Pop, of the Transparency Committee, gave three reasons for leaving this law without effect – because the licensees will not pay the government for this benefit; the United Nations recommended a democratization of this aspect, and because there exists a legal ruling to guarantee new media to the indigenous peoples. Following the 1996 Peace Accords there was established the elimination of radio and television monopolies to favor the creation of community radio stations and a TV channel. The law does not set limits regarding the number of possible renewals of the licenses, so those that have a frequency will be able to keep it for an unlimited time. The United Nations office in Guatemala regretted that there has not been a public discussion of the process to reform the law, approved behind closed doors in Congress. On October 7, a group of journalists received threats and had their equipment stolen after a protest by peasants in Alaska, Sololá province. On October 10, the Informational Reports on Guatemala and Free Press Center announced that Prensa Libre columnist and supplements editor Carolina Vásquez Araya was the subject of death threats following the publication of a column in which she denounced sexual abuse committed by the manager of a cotton plantation located in Escuintla province, 37 miles from the Guatemalan capital, on young daughters of his workers. Also threatened was journalist Ilka Oliva, who reported on the matter in a blog. The president of the newspaper elPeriódico, José Rubén Zamora, said that due to its stance critical of the government his media outlet is being discriminated against with the suspension of placement of official advertising.