Report to the Midyear Meeting 2023
April, 25-27

The semester did not show difficult situations, attacks, or threats against press freedom.

On December 20, journalists of the newspaper El Observador -recently changed ownership- challenged their media executives to publish a story implicating the former head of the presidential custody, Alejandro Astesiano, about the destination of a personal flight of the wife of President Lacalle Pou, Lorena Ponce de León. They are separated, but she maintains police custody. Astesiano is now being prosecuted for his involvement in counterfeiting operations and sales of passports to Russian citizens.

The newspaper's management considered the story publication inappropriate because "it is not in the spirit of the newspaper to meddle in personal matters that are not being investigated by the courts and that violate people's privacy." But, on the contrary, the journalists considered it exciting and published the information on their social media.

Some versions sought to hold people close to the government responsible for the newspaper's attitude. However, the management was categorical: "They enter the private sphere of relations between the president and his wife, and in the opinion of the management of this outlet, they added nothing to the legal case and could only contribute to violating family peace."

Channel 12 of Melo, capital of the department of Cerro Largo, denounced that on February 18, its staff was preparing to broadcast live and cover the carnival parade when the municipal police informed them that without written authorization from the Municipality, they could not carry out the coverage. Channel 12 promptly managed the respective approval to broadcast the event. It installed itself with its equipment and personnel at the Teacher Training Institute (IFD) premises, as in previous years. However, the last-minute demand prevented the transmission, and the Municipality of Cerro Largo would have violated the right of a media outlet to carry out journalistic coverage.

The National Prosecutor Office continues investigating the threats denounced by journalist Alfonso Lessa, resulting from his work. Lessa, who was called to testify, has not received any further intimidating warnings.

The IAPA is closely following this case, as well as others linked to complaints and lawsuits, to identify if these are resources to silence criticism and stop journalistic investigations