Report to the IAPA 77th General Assembly Virtual
October 19 – 22, 2021


In this period there has been an intensification of lawsuits against the media and journalists - in an attempt to criminalize the work of the press.

There have also been several episodes of non-compliance with the Law on Access to Public Information - especially by the binational entities Itaipú and Yacyretá. This conflicts with an April resolution by the Senate which requests the Comptroller General's Office to audit the use of funds in these companies.

In September, an appeals court ruled to annul a contempt of court ruling against the director of Yacyretá, Nicanor Duarte Frutos, for failing to provide reports on his expenses and investments as requested by a journalist of Grupo La Nación. Judge Alice González had ordered Duarte Frutos to provide the information, and declared him in contempt of court - but the appeals court overturned the decision.

In April, the firm Green SA filed a lawsuit against journalist Juan Carlos Lezcano - from ABC Color - for reporting on irregularities in a bidding process regarding the purchase of software for the social security institute (Instituto de Previsión Social - IPS). In June, the tender was declared "vitiated" and cancelled by the National Public Procurement Office (DNCP) and by the Comptroller General's Office. Nevertheless, the company insists on prosecuting the journalist.

In May, an appeals court upheld a recusal brought against Judge Elio Ovelar, for lack of impartiality in a case brought by Marta González - former Vice Minister of Taxation. In September 2019, the former official had filed a defamation suit against the director of ABC Color, Natalia Zuccolillo, and journalist Lezcano - over publications on irregularities during her administration. The articles were based on data from the General Office of Public Contracting.

In May, journalist Éver Candia - from Radio Aquidabán FM, Concepción - filed a complaint with the Public Prosecutor's Office stating that he received death threats from fuel smugglers due to revelations made on his program.

In May, Senator Juan Carlos Galaverna - from the Colorado party - criticized ABC Color on Facebook. He spoke about the "meanness" of its owners, whom he called "riffraff" - for publications linking former president Horacio Cartes to the Lava Jato case in Brazil.

In June, Marta González - former Vice Minister of Taxation in the Horacio Cartes government - and her husband, Jacinto Santa María, filed a lawsuit against the director of ABC Color and the journalist Lezcano - for allegations about a dispossession attempt on a property next to the plaintiffs' property.

In June, Óscar "Nenecho" Rodríguez - then pre-candidate to the ANR primaries - denounced a campaign against him by ABC Color. In May, as mayor of Asunción, he described the media as "extortionist." Currently, he faces several corruption charges.

In August, during a speech in Misiones, Mauricio Espínola - private secretary to President Mario Abdo Benítez - asked former president Horacio Cartes for a "cease to the merciless fire" by his media. The secretary referred to the "media landlordism" of the Cartes Group on his Twitter account.

In August, Banco Atlas denounced the manipulation of the FIFAGATE case by the Cartes Group's media - with the aim of establishing the bank in the public eye as the head of a Conmebol money laundering scheme. The bank is part of the group that owns ABC Color.

In August, the government announced that it would accede to the lawsuit filed with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR Court) by the family of journalist Santiago Leguizamón - murdered by the border mafia in 1991. The lawsuit was filed in response to the State's inaction in clarifying the journalist's murder. Nineteen journalists have been murdered since that crime occurred.

In September, the trial of ABC Color journalist Lezcano - sued by former senator Dionisio Amarilla (PLRA) for libel, defamation and slander - was suspended. Amarilla had sued Lezcano after the journalist denounced a bribery attempt in order to stop his reporting on irregularities.

In September, Congresswoman Kattya González - of the Encuentro Nacional party (PEN) - denounced the Cartes Group media to the Attorney General's Office and the Interior Ministry - for alleged false news attacks. ­