Journalists and Bolivian media face aggression and harassment

Journalistic coverage has been affected by acts of violence.

Miami (November 11, 2019) - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) reiterated today that the work of the media and journalists should be respected and guaranteed in Bolivia, where several media outlets and reporters have been attacked and threatened by violent protesters of different political sides.

Since the beginning of the political crisis, unleashed by allegations of fraud in the elections of last October 20 which resulted in yesterday's resignation of President Evo Morales, journalistic coverage has been affected by acts of violence against journalists and other media workers.

The president of the IAPA, Christopher Barnes and Roberto Rock, Chairman of the Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, stressed the importance of the role of the press in situations of political tension. They agreed that "accessing different sources of information and positions is an added value for society when making decisions."

Barnes, director of the Jamaican newspaper The Gleaner, and Rock, director of the Mexican news portal La Silla Rota, condemned the recent attacks and also agreed that "it is a mistake to blame journalists and the media FOR the political crisis due to their informative treatment of the events."

The house of journalist Casimira Lema of the university channel of La Paz was attacked and burned last night. Also, the newspapers El Diario and Page 7 did not circulate on Monday due to threats that they would be set on fire. Radio Ichilo was destroyed in the city of Santa Cruz and the university channel was attacked in Cochabamba.

In recent instances, private channel Unitel's transmission plant was set on fire and its signal was interrupted in the cities of El Alto and La Paz and, according to the National Press Association (ANP), the police managed to prevent a violent group from affecting operations of Red Uno media and the public university channel (TVU), adjacent to Unitel. In the city of Oruro, the Mega radio and television studios, owned by Mayor Saúl Aguilar, were set on fire.

On the other hand, the headquarters of the state-owned Boliviatv and the Patria Nueva radio station in La Paz were blocked by demonstrators who prevented the entry or exit of workers. The acts of intimidation forced both media to suspend their broadcasts. The director of the station, José Aramayo, was also attacked and threatened.

The IAPA is a non-profit organization dedicated to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press and expression in the Americas. It is made up of more than 1,300 publications from the Western Hemisphere; and is based in Miami, Florida, United States.