Reunión de Medio Año

Puebla, México

8 al 11 de marzo del 2013

Freedom of expression continues undergoing all sorts of threats and acts of aggression. There is no will on the part of the national government to solve the crime wave that affects the press, while many cases of violent crimes against journalists continue unpunished. Quite to the contrary, government workers, including the presidents of the Legislative and Executive branches, have conducted verbal attacks against the media, their owners, journalists, and editors, in an attempt to disqualify and stigmatize them. This climate of animosity has intensified over the past two months with the submission of a bill to reform the Basic Law of the Telecommunications Industry, which contains provisions that violate principles of freedom of expression and undermine human rights such as free association, the right and access to work, the right to private property, and others. President Porfirio Lobo is promoting the reform with the sophism of “democratizing the media,” arguing that the media are only interested in creating conspiracies, seeking their economic interest or doing moral harm to the population. In his statements, Lobo accuses “two newspapers that you already know, La Prensa and El Heraldo, who believe that by pressuring governments through their media they can break down the governments...” as well as saying that he will not give up his “...fight against some media” because “... informing and orienting public opinion must not be a lucrative business that allows them to defend the economic interests that they have in different areas of investment,” or even affirming that “...some of them do damage to youth by displaying violence.” The bill has been submitted to public debate under the direction of the same sector that makes the press responsible for the present levels of insecurity and violence in the country. The controversial bill contemplates, among other things: to create a censorship agency called the “Contents Regulating Commission;” to prohibit shareholders of a telecommunications company from participating in other business enterprises; to distribute, without guarantees of transparency, 33% of frequencies to the public sector and another 33% to community radio stations; and to establish regulations on competitiveness (usually reserved for general-application anti-monopoly laws) through a regulatory agency that does not set guarantees of transparency to assure proper distribution of frequencies and supervision free from political influence. The bill also seeks to establish confiscatory sanctions for violating the law or its regulations, including rules that permit confiscation of real estate, equipment, networks and other property of telecommunications companies. It would also establish prior conditions (prior censorship) such as veracity, timeliness and impartiality, and provisions that violate treaties providing guarantees for investments, international commerce, and free trade.