19 May 2023

SIP Bot: Closure of elPeriódico exacerbates the press freedom crisis in Central America

The IAPA tool also warned about Mexico and Peru.

Free journalism suffered significant setbacks this week, according to the Inter American Press Association's SIP Bot, an artificial intelligence monitoring tool. The latest edition of elPeriódico de Guatemala was broadcast on Monday, which resisted years of persecution and pressure that worsened after its president, José Rubén Zamora, was imprisoned last July. In addition, six journalists and two columnists of elPeriódico are being investigated by the prosecution for the mere fact of giving an opinion on the Zamora case.

In El Salvador, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) urged the government to take measures to guarantee access to public information after President Nayib Bukele annihilated the public entity in charge of supervising the delivery of information to journalists and citizens. In Honduras, several legislators warned about attempts by the Parliament board to "revive" an article that can be used to criminalize the work of journalists and the media. In Peru, Congress first approved a bill that seeks to increase penalties for defamation and slander against the press, journalists, and citizens on social media.

The SIP Bot heat map also generated a red alert in Mexico. It detected an increase in violence against journalists in the context of the upcoming elections, especially in cities such as Xalapa, Veracruz Coatzacoalcos, Córdoba, and Orizaba.

Comedian and editor of The National Mouth, @TimRunsHisMouth, wrote the most influential tweet with 3,967 interactions, in response to Senator Chuck Schumer, who tweeted calling on Fox News to stop political commentator Tucker Carlson. @TimRunsHisMouth's text was: "@SenSchumer I don't think I've ever seen the Senate Majority Leader openly call for violation of free press and free speech... but here it is."

IAPA Bot is an artificial intelligence tool of the Inter American Press Association that monitors press freedom violations in real time. It tracks information published in the media, Google News, Twitter, and from a selection of IAPA notes and denunciations. In addition, it contains a heat map that allows observing the press freedom climate in each country, a button to make complaints, and a menu that highlights the statements of government leaders, citizens' conversations, and relevant events.

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 in the Western Hemisphere, based in Miami, Florida, United States.