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

In recent months the Executive Branch has replaced Congress as the main aggressor of journalists and the media.

President Pedro Castillo has been silent and critical of the media and has not answered the invitation of the Peruvian Press Council to sign the Chapultepec and Salta declarations. Castillo comes from the Peru Libre party, which ran in the presidential elections with an ideology and a complete chapter on changes and regulations - from mandatory fellowship to some ministries approving content in TV and radio stations. The plan contains constant allusions to the actions of Rafael Correa, the Kirchners, Fidel Castro and Lenin regarding the media. It also argues that the IAPA represents the interests of economic, business and financial groups in the Americas - therefore the country should be "independent" from this organization.

In the last semester, physical attacks against journalists and their property have replaced lawsuits as the main method of aggression. Although there are journalists who have longstanding cases of defamation, the polarization experienced during the presidential elections -both in the first and second round- degenerated into attacks and censorship against journalists and the media. The attacks against journalists with editorial lines contrary to Fujimorism or openly anti-Fujimorist were particularly vicious.

Pedro Castillo's government limits the access of journalists, media and citizens in general to public information. The president has not given an interview in two and a half months of government - and his ministers do not usually do so. Likewise, on numerous occasions the private media has not been allowed access to public events - swearing in of ministers, ceremonies, etc.

Among the aggressions by the Executive Branch, the following stand out:

In mid-May, during the runoff electoral campaign, at a rally held by Pedro Castillo in Ayacucho, a group of journalists covering the event were assaulted. The then candidate pointed out that he would reveal "how much money TV program hosts make and who pays them." The ceremony's moderator referred to the journalists in attendance as "mermelera press." After the rally, a group of supporters chased the journalists, threatened them and insulted them. Stephanie Medina - from Canal N - was kicked and Carlos Brown - a cameraman - was beaten with a stick.

The next day, a journalist from Latina channel, who was asking Castillo for a statement about the attacks, was assaulted by his security agents.

On the day of the swearing in of the ministers, the private media were not allowed to enter the ceremony - which was only broadcasted through the State media. The same occurred during the transmission of the ministerial positions. During the first days, when President Castillo decided to work from home and not from the Government Palace, his agenda and the transparency of his meetings - both of which are required by law to be made public - were left in doubt.

On the day the Armed Forces and the National Police of Peru recognized Pedro Castillo as their supreme chief, the media were not allowed to enter the ceremony. They were kept away from the event using fences. They were also not allowed to cover the president's vaccination.

In August, Prime Minister Guido Bellido verbally attacked the media. He called the press "obstructionist." Peru Libre congressman Guillermo Bermejo stirred up the public against the media in a demonstration in downtown Lima.

Several journalists from TVPerú, Latina and RPP were physically assaulted when they tried to get statements from the president.

Juan Silva - Minister of Transportation and Communications - criticized Canal 7, owned by the State, for criticizing the government.

Abel Augusto Reyes Cam - congressman from Perú Libre - presented a bill that declares of public necessity and national interest "the fair and equitable distribution of the electromagnetic and electric space in radio, television and other means of communication." The bill states that, in case of a state of emergency, the Executive may issue temporary measures to be complied with by operators, suppliers and users of telecommunications services. Likewise, the Executive, exceptionally and temporarily, may temporarily assume the direct provision of certain services or the operation of certain telecommunications networks when necessary to mitigate the effects of the state of emergency. Although the Peru Libre party supported the proposal, voices within the government suggested that both President Pedro Castillo, and Vice-president Dina Boluarte, were against it - as well as opposition parties in Congress. The bill has lost traction.

These are some of the main aggressions against journalists:

In April, journalist Gina Bisso Castillo - host of Central TV's 'Your Opinion Matters' program - was sued for defamation by Victoria Villarroel Alarcón, a councilwoman in the Municipality of Lurigancho. The councilwoman accused the journalist of leading a smear campaign when she ran for congressional elections in January 2020. The complaint was admitted in late April.

In April, a group of unknown persons exploded a Molotov cocktail against the vehicle of journalist Roberto Sánchez Mamani - from La Estación radio, in Tacna - while he was inside the station. The journalist said that he had been receiving threats for his criticism of some 2021-2026 congressional candidates for that region.

The magazine Hildebrandt en sus trece was sabotaged via the platform Mercado de Pago - through which the digital version of the weekly is sold.

In May, two journalists from Noticiero Áncash - which broadcasts from the city of Huaraz - denounced that the rebroadcast of their program, in which they criticized runoff candidate Keiko Fujimori, had been cut off. Dante Moreno - owner of Radio Ancash - denied the accusations and said that the program was stopped by mutual agreement with the journalists.

One of Radio Tarma's stations in the Junín region was sabotaged in late May. The transmission cables were cut - along with the cables that feed the signal to the antenna.

In June, journalist Christopher Acosta was sued for defamation by former presidential candidate César Acuña. Acuña is asking for S/.100 million for damage to his reputation after the publication of the book Plata como cancha - about the politician. This is the second time he sues the same journalist. On this occasion, it includes the publishing house Penguin Peru and its director.

In June, journalist Carlos Padilla Castillo - host of an opinion program on Antena TV in the province of Chimbote - reported that his car was set on fire outside his house in retaliation for his work.

During the runoff elections and the days after, several groups held sit-ins in front of the homes of journalists and media opposing Fujimorism.

Several journalists from Canal N, La República, ATV and other media were attacked by violent demonstrators from Fuerza Popular and other radical groups who tried to force their way into the Government Palace.

In August, journalist Yofré López Sifuentes - from the portal - was given a two-year suspended prison sentence and ordered to pay S/. 50,000 as a result of a lawsuit filed by former judge Víctor Raúl Reyes Alvarado - for publishing allegations of sexual harassment and expressing his opinion on the matter. He was also sued by Judge Caballero García for libel, slander and defamation. According to Caballero, the journalist had damaged her honor by questioning her for revoking the preventive prison term of the former mayor of Barranca - and for criticizing her work. López has been in prison since July 16 - for an alimony debt. His lawyer has presented evidence to the contrary.

In October, several media and associations were concerned about an announcement by the Attorney General's Office to journalist Paola Ugaz that it will carry out an inspection of a plot of land purchased by her husband, as part of a money laundering investigation initiated against him at the beginning of the year as a result of a complaint by Luciano Revoredo.