Costa Rica


79th IAPA General Assembly, November 9 - 12, 2023, Mexico City, Mexico


There were no severe abuses of press freedom during this period, and the most noteworthy event was the ruling of the Constitutional Court on May 23, which set an encouraging precedent in the fight against the stigmatization of journalists by the political authorities. The decision, handed down by Constitutional Chamber IV, was the result of an appeal filed by José Ureña, a reporter for the digital newspaper CRHoy, in response to offenses made by President Rodrigo Chaves and former Health Minister Joselyn Chacón during a press conference in January.

The president had described as "political assassins" the reporters present at the press conference, including those of the newspaper La Nación and the Teletica channel. In the ruling, the Constitutional Chamber stated, "Certain expressions and words used by the officials are unjustified and constitute an excess, which could promote harassment against the media and journalists in question." Local journalists and press freedom groups question President Chaves for his intolerance towards criticism after calling them "rats," among other derogatory nicknames, those who practice the profession of informing.

On September 18, a group of pro-government demonstrators assaulted journalist Rodrigo Guevara and cameraman Roberto Chaves of the television news program NC Once outside the Legislative Assembly. The events occurred when the two were leaving the Congress building to continue their work and came across several people protesting against the bill to remove Costa Rica from the list of non-cooperative countries in fiscal matters with the European Union (EU). The demonstrators assaulted the journalists and chased them until they reached their vehicle. Guevara was pushed on several occasions, and his vehicle was also hit.

On May 31, Grupo Extra announced the closure of operations for its newspaper, television channel, and radio station. The media outlet cited various economic reasons and expressed concern for the country's democracy. However, at the end of that month, Grupo Transcomer announced the company's acquisition from the former owners, the Gómez family, for an undisclosed amount. The purchase included Diario Extra, channel TV42, and radio América. Transcomer is a business conglomerate that operates in the Costa Rican Stock Exchange (Bolcomer) and has a presence in sectors such as hotels, construction, and real estate development. The media resumed operations on July 3.

A Freedom House report, dated October 4, details the attacks and persecution from the Executive Branch against La Nación, Teletica, and CRHoy. In the 2023 Internet Freedom report, Costa Rica dropped three points from 2022 88 to 85. In the same sense, the May 3 report of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) showed a drop of 15 places for Costa Rica in the World Press Freedom Index due to the attacks of President Chaves on media and journalists. The 2023 edition of the Chapultepec index shows Costa Rica at number 7 in the ranking, two places lower than in 2022.

The deterioration of the press freedom situation due to the government's stigmatizing discourse was also a cause for concern in the academic world. The Freedom of Expression and Right to Information Program (Proledi), in alliance with the Center for Research and Political Studies (CIEP) of the University of Costa Rica, presented on September 28 the results of the National Survey on Freedom of Expression and Trust in the Media. The results show that almost two out of three people (64%) agree that "freedom of expression in Costa Rica is in danger."