15 September 2023

IAPA Bot: Violence Against Journalists and the Media Continues to Spread

Gun and dynamite attacks in Jamaica, Mexico and Bolivia.

For the first time, IAPA Bot painted Jamaica in red, where the radio station Nation News Network (NNN), one of the leading media outlets in the country, suffered an armed attack that only caused material damage. For years, according to the Chapultepec Index, this Caribbean nation has been ranked among the best for the practice of journalism.

An armed attack also occurred in Mexico against the Society of Journalists and Communicators (SPyC) offices in Ciudad Juárez. No one was injured.

In Cúcuta, a Colombian city bordering Venezuela, the editor of the newspaper La Opinión, Estefanía Colmenares, received a death threat via WhatsApp. She is the granddaughter of Eustorgio Colmenares Baptista, founder and director of the newspaper, who was murdered 30 years ago by ELN guerrillas. The case remains unpunished. Estefania has been running the newspaper for five years, and this is the first time she has received threats.

The reddish tone in IAPA Bot's heat map continued in Bolivia, where individuals armed with dynamite invaded the premises of the antenna of Radio Metropolitana in the city of El Alto. The National Press Association (ANP) reported that four Bolivian radio stations have been affected by violence in recent months.

On the other hand, the number of attacks against Ecuadorian journalists continued to rise. Death threats against journalists have doubled compared to the previous two years. At least 15 death threats against journalists have been reported in 2023.

IAPA Bot also noted two attacks through legislative initiatives in Panama and Peru. The IAPA asked the Panamanian government to withdraw a bill on transparency that it considers detrimental to access to public information and that, in addition, would protect corruption. The hemispheric organization also rejected a reform in Peru's Penal Code that would criminalize coverage of social protests.

This week, press reports were published on the out-of-control situation in Nicaragua, where in the last five years, 1,329 violations against the press were recorded, ranging from murder to the closing of media outlets and the imprisonment of journalists.

In Venezuela, 117 violations of freedom of information have been documented between March and August 2023 alone.

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.