Reunión de Medio Año

Puebla, México

8 al 11 de marzo del 2013

With the departure of President Fernando Lugo in June, 2012, the country has been going through an electoral process that will result in presidential elections of April 21. The death of one of the candidates, retired general Lino César Oviedo, in an airplane accident will not affect the continuation of the process. Access to public information continues to be a problem in the country, a subject that has brought about a number of attempts at discussion in the Congress over the past decade, but which have never prospered. In a systematic way, the president of the National Congress, Senator Jorge Oviedo Matto, has refused to respond to a request for reports submitted by the newspaper ABC Color so that public opinion may be informed on the work of the legislators during the 2008-2013 period. On October 19, the newspaper presented a note to the head of the Chamber of Senators asking for information on, among other things: records of assistance offered to senators; a list of bills of law submitted; a list of trips made by the parliamentarians, as well as travel funds received; ex-gratia pensions requested by them, and the overall value of fuel vouchers given to each senator since 2008. Faced with the refusal from Congress, the newspaper submitted a constitutional suit to Judge Rubén Ayala Brun on November 12. The magistrate turned down the suit, which was appealed to the Chamber of Appeals by the representative, which also denied the appeal. By December 24, the justice system had denied the constitutional suit, arguing that the Senate reports on everything to the citizens on its webpage. What is most telling is that at neither the first nor second level was an analysis made of whether the data uploaded to the Internet responded to what was requested. Due to the fact that the courts continue being the place where censorship of the media and journalists is legitimized through numerous lawsuits brought for libel and slander, groups dedicated to freedom of the press continue seeking the passage of laws that would decriminalize crimes of defamation. The primary threats to the practice of journalism continue due to the violence that occurs along the border. On February 6 Marcelino Vázquez was murdered. He was the owner and director of Sin Fronteras 98.5 FM radio in Pedro Juan Caballero, in the department of Amambay, on the Brazilian border. The station broadcasts news and music of all types. Vázquez was killed when driving to a discotheque that he also owns. Two of the suspects in the crime, Edgar Giménez Duarte and Ramón Fariña Figueredo turned themselves in and continue to be in custody. According to local media, the police presume that the businessman was gunned down because he prevented drug sellers from being present at one of his discotheques, although other possibilities have not been discarded. In that same city, journalist Santiago Leguizamón was killed on April 26, 1991, and the crime continues to be unpunished. In 2007 the IAPA presented a journalistic investigation into the case before the Inter American Commission on Human Rights. Leguizamón was the owner and director of Radio Mburucuyá, in addition to be a correspondent for the Noticias newspaper of Asunción. Other facts under consideration: On October 24, journalist and news presenter on the Telefuturo television station, channel 4, Óscar Acosta, received police protection offered by the Minister of the Interior after receiving intelligence information about a supposed kidnapping threat on the part of the extremist group Army of the Paraguayan People (EPP). Acosta explained that the situation could have been generated by his critical posture toward the actions of the EPP. An announcer for radio Chaco Boreal FM 103.5, Pablo Almada, complained to the Prosecutor’s office that on October 25 he received a death threat in a text message. He attributed the matter to information that he had put on a radio program about a conflict between the Municipality of Loma Plata (Chaco) and the Chortitzer Komitee Cooperative and Civil Association, from which the government was demanding payment of taxes in the amount of 6.527 billion guaranies (more than 1.5 million American dollars). On November 19, sports journalist Bruno Fabián Pont Pessoa sued ABC Color journalist Óscar López for the supposed crimes of defamation, slander, and libel. Pont felt he had been affected by the contents of a tweet sent by his colleague in which the latter questioned his newspaper work and his ethical standing to practice his profession.