CONCLUSIONS In too many places throughout the Americas, it is "open season" on journalists. At least seven have been murdered in the past six months, adding to the toll that keeps growing with every meeting of this association. While attacks on journalists in just three countries - Colombia, Mexico and Guatemala - accounted for 17 of the 18 journalists slain in 1994, Brazil now must be added to the list of major offenders. The four murders that have occurred in that country since March are notable for their savagery, with one journalist having died in a fusillade of 14 bullets and another having been shot seven times. The slaying of two journalists in Colombia brings the total to S9 murdered there within the past seven years. The killing of another journalist in Mexico brings the total to 18 slain there in the same period. Shockingly, virtually every perpetrator of these outrageous offenses against humanity has escaped being brought to justice. Thus, what Danilo Arbilla, chairman of the Freedom of the Press and Information Committee, calls the "unpunishable crime" continues to go unpunished and its perpetrators to go free. Attacks on journalists, kidnappings, death threats and arrests on spurious charges all contribute to a hemispheric chill that impedes freedom of expression. In Argentina, more than 60 attacks and threats directed against journalists in the past two years all go unresolved, and unpunished. Even in democratic Cura~ao, a journalist was arrested and held for a day recently when a policeman objected to his photo being taken. In Cuba, an aging dictator and a discredited political system create some small, very tentative opportunities for change, but often at a terrible cost to dissident journalists. The Castro regime continues to be marked, in the words of the Cuba report to the Freedom of Press and Information Committee, by the "iron-fisted control of information and the absolute manipulation of that information by those with political power." It is a tragic paradox that even as democracy has swept across the continents and island nations of the New World, democratic governments continue to act otherwise. Several approve and promote those abuses of a free press that would be universally condemned if they were to occur in a totalitarian state. The courts and legislatures often are used as a cover for governments' attempts to silence a critical media. Heavy fines for alleged libel have been imposed in Argentina, and threatened in Paraguay. A virtual "industry" of lawsuits against the media has been spawned in Uruguay. In many countries - Panama, Venezuela, Paraguay, Ecuador, Uruguay and Mexico - governments and public offices manipulate official advertising in a discriminatory manner, punishing or rewarding the media according to their editorial policies. An ominous "right of reply through omission" is included in a new press law approved by Chile's Chamber of Deputies. To accept this requirement, according to the Chilean report, "would convert the media into a daily Babel. It would "make them slaves to the egos of thousands of individuals who believe they have reinvented the world daily." Equally ominous is a provision that would prohibit any publication from having more than 30 per cent of the total national circulation - an affront to free enterprise as well as a free press. In Bolivia, a proposed telecommunications law would eliminate journalists' right to confidentiality of sources. Also, a proposed banking law would establish prison terms for journalists convicted of "destabilizing the national economy." Remarkably, some repressive press laws continue to restrict free expression even after old, despotic regimes have been replaced with democratic governments. In Panama, anti-press laws dating to 1978 still are on the books. At any moment, they could be enforced, and a free press in Panama made a cruel charade. In Brazil, too, an antiquated press law dating from the time of the dictatorship that empowers the judiciary to place restrictions on the media, has yet to be repealed, even though it contravenes the current Constitution. Illustrating the dangers of this phenomenon is the recent resuscitation of a 1987 memorandum in Peru, requiring statements to the press to be "channeled solely through the chief justice of the Supreme Court .... " The Judiciary Administrative Council now has barred all judges from giving statements to the media. Even as old repressive laws remain on the books, some governments have been busy thinking up new ones. In Paraguay, the Chamber of Deputies has passed a bill amending the electoral code to intrude on the media's right to decide what to print. Ten days prior to an election, newspapers would be required to publish in each edition an entire page "explaining the platforms of the parties, political movements and alliances." Radio and television would have to dedicate 3 per cent of their air time. In Nicaragua, constitutional changes have taken effect establishing the "right of reply," and a licensing law has been proposed. In Venezuela, a licensing law has been enacted, though it is being challenged before the Supreme Court. In Puerto Rico, both the Senate and House of Representatives have passed measures restricting or blocking press access to public documents. A major victory for a free press in the Americas is the Costa Rican Supreme Court's ruling that the obligatory licensing of journalists is unconstitutional. While the American Convention of Human Rights affirms the free practice of journalism as a universal right, the court said, the disputed colegio law "makes the right to practice journalism a special privilege." In Brazil, a court ruled the requirement of a university degree to work as a journalist to be unconstitutional. Finally, in Haiti, a free press is guaranteed in principle but floundering in fact, as much from the economic crisis there as discouragement from the government. The struggle for a free press in the hemisphere therefore never ends. It only is redoubled with each report from this assembly, as it has been for the past 51 years.