Miami (November 19, 2013)—The intimidation and persecution of journalist Marianela Montenegro by Bolivian authorities was condemned today by the Inter American Press Association (IAPA), which called for a prompt investigation into her complaints and guarantees for her safety and that of her family.
During a visit to the IAPA offices on November 8, Montenegro, a journalist and owner of Canal 33 television in Cochabamba reported that she has been harassed and threatened and her channel broken into on two occasions.
She hosts the “Aló Marianela” (Hello, Marianela) program of debates and criticism against the government. In late October she also presented her complaint to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in Washington, D.C.
On November 20, 2012 police and officials of the Telecommunications and Transport Regulatory and Social Control Authority (ATT) violently raided the television station and her home – located in the same building – for alleged violations of the agency’s rules. The raid was captured on video by a security camera – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GyM3UOAKxgQ.
Montenegro, who provided to the IAPA a number of documents concerning her denunciations, also informed that advertising had been withdrawn in order to suffocate her financially, four criminal suits had been filed, the channel’s equipment had been confiscated, and she had been threatened with the cancellation of her broadcast license. She said all this was in reaction to her criticism towards the ruling party.
The chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Claudio Paolillo, declared, “We condemn the intimidation campaign against journalists which seems to send the message that in order to be safe, it is better to keep quiet; this is a violation of freedom of the press and of expression.”
The IAPA recently condemned threats of reprisals from municipal authorities in Santa Cruz de la Sierra against the newspaper El Deber and one of its journalists.
Paolillo, editor of the Montevideo, Uruguay, weekly Búsqueda, said that the government is engaging in a strategy of suffocation through attacks on media and journalists, among other actions, through discrimination of official advertising, special taxes and the purchase of independent media through third parties, as was laid out in Bolivia’s report presented at the IAPA’s General Assembly last month.
The IAPA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press and of expression in the Americas. It is made up of more than 1,300 print publications from throughout the Western Hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida. For more information please go to http://www.sipiapa.org.