IAPA concerned about the intimidation campaign against Costa Rican newspaper La Nación


Miami (July 12, 2022) - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) expressed concern over the public speech of the President of Costa Rica, Rodrigo Chaves, and the administrative actions against the newspaper La Nación and one of its companies. The organization said it would remain vigilant in the case and urged the President to suspend what appears to be an act of indirect intimidation and a campaign to discredit the newspaper.

The Ministry of Health suspended on July 8 the sanitary permit to operate Parque Viva, an events center owned by Grupo La Nación, after receiving anonymous complaints and an evaluation in which it determined that access for firefighters and Red Cross vehicles was difficult. The measure occurred two days after President Chaves, who took office in May, presented during a press conference data on the purchase of bonds issued by La Nación S. A. in the stock market between 2013 and 2014 and questioned the economic situation of the company, as denounced by the newspaper.

IAPA president, Jorge Canahuati, noted, "The administrative actions against one of the companies that give economic stability to the newspaper were taken two days after the President criticized the media." Canahuati, CEO of Grupo Opsa of Honduras, added: "We are concerned that we could be facing an indirect retaliation. Our experience indicates that freedom of the press is often attacked indirectly to 'discipline' a media outlet through tax audits or by discriminating against them with official advertising, among other forms of indirect censorship."

During the electoral campaign, Chaves promised to destroy La Nación and Canal 7, among other media, because they published information about allegations of sexual harassment against him when he worked at the World Bank more than 15 years ago and about alleged irregularities in the financing of his political activity. Chaves called them "scoundrels" and "defamation media."

The chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Carlos Jornet, added, "The President's continuous references to the newspaper demonstrate an intention to discredit it in the eyes of public opinion." Jornet, the editor of La Voz del Interior of Argentina, said, "Unfortunately, this is an increasingly common practice among the region's rulers, regardless of their ideological leanings."

Canahuati and Jornet urged Chaves to abandon "the confrontational attitude" against La Nación and to "respect the fundamental role of the press in a democracy." They also recalled that Costa Rica has most respected the principle of the Declaration of Chapultepec, which establishes that "No news media nor journalist may be punished for publishing the truth, criticizing, or denouncing the government."

In the last two years, Costa Rica has ranked among the countries that most respect press freedom, according to the Chapultepec Index.

IAPA is a non-profit organization dedicated to defending and promoting freedom of the press and expression in the Americas. It comprises more than 1,300 publications from the western hemisphere; and is based in Miami, Florida, United States.