IAPA rejects official discrediting campaign in Guatemala

Attacks on journalists and news media could lead to "acts of violence against the press."

MIAMI, Florida (January 30, 2018)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today expressed its concern at the increase in official attacks on journalists and news media in Guatemala, fearing that they could lead to "acts of violence against the press."

In a recent military action, which had the presence of President Jimmy Morales, Guatemala City mayor and former president Álvaro Arzú, after complaining that the press is responsible for defaming the authorities and the country, said that "we have to go over the heads of the negative news media."

What Arzú said was part of an increase in attacks on the press that also have President Morales as a protagonist, according to what is stated in the latest IAPA press freedom reports. Complaints have been directed at Arzú, investigated for alleged corruption in the public administration, who blames and threatens the press with a usual phrase: "You beat the press or you pay for it."

IAPA President Gustavo Mohme expressed his "concern at the discrediting campaign that the Guatemalan media are denouncing, not only because this lack of respect seeks to undermine the credibility of the journalists and is contrary to principles of tolerance in the context of press freedom, but because it can encourage acts of violence against the critical and independent press."

The chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Roberto Rock, added, "We are very closely watching the verbal attacks and acts of intimidation in Guatemala, which are added to direct attacks from net centers and anonymous social media accounts on journalists, as well as cyber attacks on media as we have been denouncing for several months now."

Rock, editor of the Mexican news portal La Silla Rota, also said that the IAPA continues to keep an eye on the comments that President Morales is making against critical journalists, as in the case of the vice chairman of the newspaper Prensa Libre, Mario Antonio Sandoval.

The IAPA also recalled that in addition to Prensa Libre executives it has been rejecting a series of intimidations of those of elPeriódico, Guatevisión and news Web sites Soy502 and Nómada, as well as against reporters covering the Presidency and Congress.

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 publications from throughout the Western Hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida.