Report to the IAPA

March 28, 2020


After nearly 14 years following a policy of financial asphyxia, tax persecution and censorship of the work of independent journalists and media the recovery of constitutional freedoms has been the first sign after the resignation and flight of Evo Morales on November 10 , 2019.

The departure of a government that did not recognize the Constitution and entitled itself to a fourth mandate, using its influence on a Constitutional Tribunal and supported by a Supreme Electoral Tribunal that accepted the contravention of the Constitution, has left with the independent media that remained in a worrisome state of deep traces of economic fragility. Two newspapers were closed down, La Prensa and El Norte, financial asphyxia reduced the newsrooms, while the exclusion of state advertising and the obligation to publish free-of-charge advertisements between 2010 and 2019 produced an economic bleeding in the principal newspapers.

Morales said that there would be created newspapers of less circulation, granting privilege to them with official advertising, and he strengthened two private television channels with million-dollar contracts and supported with official advertising radio stations for them to disseminate propaganda to strengthen his image.

While there was excluded state advertising and there were persecuted with the taxation authority independent media, imposed were campaigns of free dissemination in the media, something prohibited in the Constitution.

The policy of pressure had as allies some press worker trade union sectors that supported the plan of financial asphyxia with the expectation of becoming the owners of the ruined media. The government enacted the Law of Creation of Social Companies which in practice encourages sabotage in the companies for their later transfer to the labor sector. The law remains applicable.

Another means of confiscation of financial resources was creation of a life insurance for press workers that imposes on the companies a 1% of real income and cash to a private fund, doubling the obligations and contributions of the media to this type of funds.

During the Morales government broadcasts of presidential reports through radio and television channels were obligatory. The current government has proposed its repeal.

There are currents of information, including foreign ones, that seek to eliminate the history of outrages and attacks upon press freedom committed as part of the official policy of asphyxia and silencing of the media on the part of the Morales government. To this are added political sectors supporting the previous political model with the aim of impairing the work carried out by independent journalists and media.

Differently to the Morales administration today there is noted governmental interest in informing and in restoring freedoms to the work of journalists and media.

This does not signify an end to verbal or physical attacks on journalists over their informative work during coverage of conflicts. The stigmatization continues, journalists are frequently characterized as "sold-out press" in protest acts and marches.

It is also of concern that some social activists call themselves journalists without having a relationship with the news media.