IAPA Midyear Meeting 2016
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
April 8-11

In a declaration without precedent in the political history of the country in times of democracy, the governing Frente Amplio party accused the press of having mounted a campaign aimed at "derogating the image and credibility of members of the government and also weakening the country's democratic institutionality." The pronouncement was produced after the newspaper El Observador published with information obtained in Cuba that Uruguayan Vice President Raúl Sendic lacked the title of "Licenciado" (Graduate) that appeared in all the official documents that he has referred to in his public presentations over the last three decades.

According to the resumé that the vice president himself disseminates he graduated, with a gold medal included, in Human Genetics at Havana University while he was in exile during the military dictatorship (1973-1985). El Observador said that Sendic cannot be a Graduate in Human Genetics because that degree course does not exist at Havana University and is only a part of the graduate Biology course.

The personal details and his academic career were included on the Web site of his political sector and in dozens of interviews and official documents until following the publication the Presidency changed the resumé with which he was presented at meetings of the Council of Ministers. Sendic's title thus went from Lic. To Mr.

The same day that the Frente Amplio attacked the press the vice president, far from apologizing for having lied during 30 years, called journalists "junk press."

A few days later President Tabaré Vázquez, who in a very low voice appeared to have put himself at a distance regarding his party's declaration against the press for "weakening the country's democratic institutionality," decided to also go against the press. "Sometimes," he said, "one has to seek to balance the information that the population receives .... I see that in some media there is an increase of one kind of handling information which is to emphasize and magnify what does not come out well or is conflictive and to minimize the positive aspects. What I am going to say is going to give rise to a scandal but I have to say it. Yes, these media have become an opposition party." The President added that his government has "the right and the obligation to inform the population" and announced that he would be making greater use of the national radio and television network.

A couple of days after Vázquez's declarations it was the turn of Education and Culture Minister María Julia Muñoz, who felt "that to question figures that we all vote for is kind of way of questioning democracy."

On January 5, in Mexico City, vice president Sendic during the 2nd International Meeting of the Democratic Left said he considered the press in the country "and in South America" is a "factual power" that often "marks the agenda" of the governments.

On February 24 , the newspaper The Observer published an article by journalist Patricia Madrid on the college degree Vice President Sendic .

From that moment on there began a process of declarations and denials, where the vice president confirmed or denied his title of Graduate. One episode that was denounced by journalist Leonardo Guzmán in the newspaper El País was that the Electoral Tribunal proclaimed him "sole candidate of the Frente Amplio Party" in the official announcement that he dated July 31, 2014 and which was published on August 4, where Sendic appears with the title "Engineer." The epilogue occurred during the Frente Amplio plenary session of March 5, where after apologizing because he did not have his title's papers, there was approved the declaration in whose number 2) it is said: "Rejects the campaign undertaken by the opposition and various news media, aimed at both undermining the image and credibility of the members of our government and also weakening the democratic institutionality of the country."

On February 18 it was learned that the Court's Prosecutor, Jorge Díaz, considered that the Law on Audiovisual Communication Services (known as the media law), has 23 unconstitutional articles out of a total of 131 that were challenged in 22 cases.

On March 14 a journalist with the newspaper Cambio de Salto, some 300 miles from Montevideo, was attacked by three individuals in a store after a discussion and he lost consciousness. The attack was believed to have responded to information published in the paper that was said to have angered local government members belonging to the Frente Amplio party.

On March 27 there was formally opened the Club Atlético Peñarol Stadium in the presence of President Vázquez and FIFA President Gianni Infantino. Despite the President's presence, TV Canal 4 camera access was denied, due to a commercial disagreement with the Tenfield company which had exclusivity in broadcasting the event. Not only was impeded the coverage of a public event with the President's presence, but the soccer stadium had been built with money from Uruguay's leading state-owned bank.

On April 5 the Supreme Court issued its first ruling on various lawsuits on unconstitutionality that have been submitted against the Law on Audiovisual Services Communication (Media Law). The Court's ruling (268 pages) was preceded by a long and vigorous defense of freedom of expression, where there are included and shared the concepts that could at the appropriate time require the Inter-American Court to comply with. It is a value that, if lost, puts in danger the effect of the essential principles for the existence of a democratic society. The protection of the right to freely express ideas thus becomes fundamental for the full effect of the rest of human rights.

Following this ruling there remain 21 other lawsuits on unconstitutionality raised by television channels, radio stations and cable television operators. Of these none has been fully analyzed by the five judges. Considering all the suits against the Law that have been submitted objections were raised to 131 articles. Of these, according to Attorney General Jorge Díaz, there are eight cases of unconstitutionality "in its totality" and 15 "partially."

The articles declared to be unconstitutional are: 39-3 (which regulates events of general interest and which for example requires the open broadcast of Uruguayan soccer teams' games); 60-3-1&3 (which refer to the regulation of content); Article 55 (which limits the number of subscribers that the operators of cable television may have), and 98-2 (which enables the suspension of news media in the event that there are obstacles to the inspections carried out by the Executive Branch).