Miami (June 24, 2015)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today expressed concern at a new verbal attack by the mayor of the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra on the local newspaper El Deber and a news photographer.
El Deber had reported that during a public ceremony last Friday Mayor Percy Fernández Añez called the paper “a liar and ridiculous.” At the event, in which Bolivian President Evo Morales, Government Minister Carlos Romero and local officials participated, the mayor made offensive comments about a photographer from another media outlet who he thought worked for El Deber.
The chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Claudio Paolillo, said, “This is not the first time that we speak out against public attacks, harassment and lack of respect for journalists and media by the mayor, whose attitude is typical of those who wish to publicly intimidate with the intention of halting criticism and creating self-censorship.”
Paolillo, editor of the Montevideo, Uruguay, weekly Búsqueda, declared that because they are public officials should be more tolerant of criticism.
Last month El Deber also denounced a campaign of intimidation on the part of a municipal officer which included the total withdrawal of official advertising.
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.