The death count of journalists cast a shadow on the hemisphere, and the murder of journalists has become almost routine. In the last six months, two journalists were killed in Colombia, and one each in Mexico and Haiti. Self proclaimed political and social leaders in Colombia and Haiti have gone as far as launching slander campaigns naming their future targets for assassination. In this way they try to silence those who express questions, doubts and opinions that differ from those of powerful people. The two main sources of violence against journalists are drug traffickers and authoritarian governments. In Colombia the threat comes from paramilitary forces, narcoguerrillas and drug traffickers while in Haiti the failure of the government to act decisively in defense of press freedom has provided radical pro-government groups with a license to threaten, harass and murder. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has now moved from the stage of violent verbal attacks and incitement of mobs against the media to physical attacks on cameramen and reporters in the streets of Caracas. Groups of agitators incited by the government have placed under siege buildings where newspapers are produced. Little by little the democratic façade of the regime is being replaced by overtones of fascism reminiscent of the 1930s. Chávez began by destroying any possibility of an independent judiciary in order to ensure unlimited power. By 1999, when he in effect dismissed the Supreme Court and formed a judicial system to his own liking, his preference for absolute rule became crystal clear. Like the kings of old, Chávez seems to believe that he embodies the state. The death in Pakistan of Daniel Pearl, South Asia correspondent of The Wall Street Journal, makes the journalists of the hemisphere even more committed to continuing their professional work. However, in the United States there have been regrettable attempts by government agencies to limit press freedom. In October, for example, a memorandum of the attorney general's office ordered that before a federal agency releases information under the federal Freedom of Information Act, it should consider "national security, enhancing the effectiveness of our law enforcement agencies, protecting sensitive business information and, not least, preserving personal privacy." Placing conditions on the pursuit of truth is an attempt against freedom. In Costa Rica, another nation with a democratic tradition, zeal for regulations and strict legal interpretations foster an environment that restricts press freedom. Many journalists have admitted that because of pressures allegedly stemming from legislation and court decisions they have chosen self-censorship. The impunity of the state's repressive forces in Cuba is demonstrated not just against those who try to practice journalism in their own country, but also against foreign correspondents. In this way, Fidel Castro shows his disciple, Hugo Chávez, the way of dictatorship. Democracy is more than electing governments by popular vote. Latin American nations must work to build fully democratic societies under the rule of law and with complete press freedom. The Inter American Press Association has always maintained that the way to guarantee press freedom is dependent upon judicial interpretation of the human and constitutional right to express all ideas and opinions. For this reason, the Inter American Press Association has called a hemispheric conference on press freedom and judicial power in Washington June 22-24. The work of journalists and judges, with each carrying out their role, is fundamental for a democratic society.