Puerto Rico

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

Although during this period a climate of press freedom prevailed the deepening of the fiscal, economic and social crisis accentuated government obstacles to access to information.

Access to official information sources is a constant complaint of the media, especially on information regarding the historic fiscal crisis, added to which is a public debt of more than $70 billion.

The central government's attitude has been to release fragmented information, while in the U.S. Congress under discussion is a proposal of the Federal Fiscal Control Board which, if approved, would assume budgetary and administrative control over Puerto Rico.

A similar denunciation has been made, in a sustained manner, by El Nuevo Día regarding omissions, lapses and delays in the dissemination of the financial reports that political candidates must place at the Electoral Comptroller Office.

In late February the Supreme Court ordered a delay in the important project to give access by photo journalists' cameras to legal proceedings, in denying a petition made by the television news channel Televicentro Canal 4 to broadcast the initial hearing of the case of the child Lorenzo González Cacho, murdered six years ago during which time there has prevailed mystery, alteration of the crime scene on the erroneous orders of the very Justice Department and a lack of information. In Puerto Rico a Supreme Court pilot program was launched to allow cameras in court and until this recent decision the recording and live broadcast of trials occurred within the framework of respectful and professional practice.

On March 16 in the proceedings for Police Reform in the Fajardo municipality High Court the Association of Journalists of Puerto Rico and other press organizations complained of the lack of information or "selective information" put out by the Police Superintendent, Colonel José Caldero. This is a police reform process begun under the orders of the U.S. Federal Court due to corruption, human rights violations, excessive use of force and, among other things, discriminatory treatment of minorities.

The journalists complained that the police deny information alleging that "it affects the investigation" and in return its "communications advisers" and public relations officers impede the work of the press.