CONCLUSIONS The murder of a single journalist in the Americas in the course of a year is one killing too many. Since the last IAPA General Assembly in Uruguay in 1998, seven more journalists were killed in the• line of duty in Mexico, Colombia and Argentina. That number, while still unacceptable, is fewer than were killed the previous year. In total, killers acting with impunity murdered more than 200 journalists throughout the Americas in the last decade. Over the course of the last year, the Inter American Press Association has intensified its efforts to raise public awareness of these unpunished crimes and to slow the pace of the killings. This IAPA campaign against crimes of impunity is beginning to yield results. Acts of violence against journalists in the Americas have diminished, and more and more governments in the region are responding to our initiatives. Yet even as the assassinations of working journalists appear to be dwindling, a more subtle and spreading attack on the press is underway. While many might believe the press now operates without limits in a climate of democracy throughout the Americas, the truth is that the situation is far more complex. Even in democratic nations, politicians uneasy with a free and independent press are using every means at their disposal to silence or pressure their critics and limit the watchdog role of the media. In virtually every nation in the Americas, legal threats and challenges bedevil all journalists. Legal maneuvers against the press are now unfolding in legislative bodies and courtrooms throughout the hemisphere. Intimidating libel suits are being filed in alarming numbers, some with no greater pretext than a public official who claims insult or embarrassment as a result of published accounts which prove to be factual. The libel claims often carry the prospect of prison terms as well as crippling financial penalties that could overwhelm individual owners and publishers. Compliant legislative bodies are debating changes in local laws designed to limit freedom of speech and expression and press independence. These efforts also are on the rise. The work of the Constituent Assembly in Venezuela, in particular, threatens the status of the press. The IAPA continues to be concerned about ongoing situations in Peru, and efforts in Paraguay to impose new limits on the national press. These concerted efforts to muzzle an independent, vigorous press are more insidious than outright killings because it is easy for politicians and the military to confuse the public and hide behind judicial proceedings and legislative maneuvers while pursuing their real aims. Publishers and owners everywhere, from Argentina and Uruguay to Peru and Colombia, face the specter of crippling libel convictions handed down by hostile judges. The mere filing of a case before a judge hostile to the media can be an effective form of intimidation even if the case is not supported by the facts. In some cases, governments are moving to use a willing judiciary to threaten the outright seizure of media properties. In sum, vigilance and a proactive strategy emerged as the strongest options open to the nearly 500 delegates as they met for the 55th time and the final time in this century in Houston, Texas. The publication by the IAPA of "Impunity No More," focuses new attention on the violence against journalists in the Americas, and a record of official indifference on the part of governments responsible for solving the crimes. In the past, IAPA delegations often encountered that indifference as they sought to investigate the unsolved murder of journalists. Now, Rapid Response Teams will travel to the country immediately after a crime is committed in order to launch timely and independent parallel investigation, and to pressure authorities to prosecute responsible parties. Across the hemisphere, serious challenges to press freedom abound. Some, like official press repression in Cuba, are familiar. Those who believed the visit of Pope John Paul II to Cuba in 1998 would usher in government liberalization of Cuban press policies instead have seen the regime harden its position. The government prevented Raul Rivero from traveling to New York in August to accept the prestigious Maria Moors Cabot Award at Columbia University. IAPA members listened to Rivero in a telephone presentation he made from Havana. Several independent journalists remain jailed. Others have fled the country. Independent journalists working in Cuba are an endangered species. Access to Cuba for the U.S. press remains restricted. Individual newspapers are singled out for exclusion. Other challenges confronting journalists are disturbingly new. In Venezuela, the consolidation of power and institutional upheaval continues under the direction of former military officer, President Hugo Chavez. While Chavez himself assured an IAPA delegation in Washington, D.C. that he was committed to press freedoms, his rhetoric might be contradicted by events on the ground, especially if Venezuela experiences further political change and turmoil. A newly elected Constituent Assembly has proposed government regulation of the press, and limitation to citizens' right of freedom of expression, Persistent efforts to establish co/egios, government-sanctioned, mandatory oversight entities, move from one nation to the next. Even as delegates have defeated such a measure in, say, Costa Rica, a new front in the battle has opened in neighboring Nicaragua, where pro-Sandinista journalists seek to establish a co/egio. Conversation and debate took place during the country-by-country reports, notably about Cuba, Peru and Paraguay. Such robust exchanges are a hallmark of IAPA meetings. Steady progress was made enshrining the Declaration of Chapultepec as a truly historic landmark in the establishment of a free press in America. Ecuadoran President Jamil Mahuad signed the declaration, bringing the number of signatory nations to more than 20. Chapultepec Forums held at several regional locations in Mexico, Panama, Ecuador and Argentina, were a success. Above all, the mission of the IAPA will remain the preservation of freedom of the press in the hemisphere.