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


During this period, in which the new president Santiago Peña took office on August 15, assaults and attacks against media and journalists in the interior of the country continued, while legal claims are still being used as a means of intimidation to silence the critiques of independent journalism.

In the fight against the violence affecting journalism, a bill for protecting journalists and human rights defenders was presented to the Senate in April, aiming to create a protection mechanism for both groups.

Several incidents of crimes against journalists and impunity were recorded. In June, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs published the judgment in the case of journalist Santiago Leguizamón, in compliance with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruling against the State in December 2022.

In July, the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice rejected a defense appeal by Waldemar Pereira Rivas, alias Cachorrão, which allows for a new trial. Pereira Rivas was detained as the alleged material author of the murder of journalist Leo Veras, which occurred in February 2020 in Pedro Juan Caballero. He is currently a fugitive with national and international arrest warrants issued against him.

In August, agents of the Department of Investigation of Punishable Acts arrested Roberto David Cardozo Rojas, who had an arrest warrant as a suspect in the murder of journalist Humberto Andrés Coronel Godoy, who was killed in September 2022 when leaving his job at Radio Amambay. Coronel often covered issues of corruption and organized crime in Pedro Juan Caballero.

In judicial matters, several incidents were recorded within a climate of harassment and intimidation.

In August, the Prosecutor's Office requested from the newspapers ABC Color and Última Hora certified copies of articles and their authors as part of a Public Ministry investigation prompted by a complaint of alleged political persecution presented by former President Horacio Cartes. It triggered protests and rejection because it was considered an attempt at judicial intimidation to silence criticism and encourage self-censorship. The Paraguayan Journalists Union (SPP) stated, "This action is severe for the free exercise of journalism and access to information." The affected journalists organized public protests under the slogans "Mr. Prosecutor, I wrote the report" and "They will not silence us."

In May, Juan Vera, president of the Association of Users and Consumers of Paraguay (Asucop), whom Menchi Barriocanal sued for injury to privacy, was convicted and fined. Barriocanal was affected in 2022 by a virtual harassment campaign driven by Vera, who exposed the journalist's private phone number on his social media and WhatsApp groups due to her position in favor of a donation from the European Union (EU) for education.

In June, Judge Zunilda Martínez Noguera found the mayor of Ciudad del Este, Miguel Prieto, guilty of the crime of slander following a lawsuit filed by Héctor Guerín, director of Radio Concierto from the town of Presidente Franco.

In August, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) required Itaipu to respond to the Society of Communicators of Paraguay (SCP) request. In May 2022, the SCP presented a case to the IACHR against the binational entity for hiding information related to the use of social funds.

In October, Vicente Godoy, a journalist from Horqueta Digital, requested asylum in another country after receiving death threats, according to the SCP. The threats against Godoy were allegedly related to his journalistic investigations into possible acts of corruption involving the former mayor of Horqueta, Jorge Emiliano Urbieta, and his brother, congressman Arturo Urbieta, both of the Colorado Party. The SCP condemned the "ineffectiveness" of the Prosecutor's Office and demanded that the case be clarified and provided protection to the journalist.

The director of the newspaper ABC Color, Natalia Zuccolillo, and the journalist Juan Carlos Lezcano are facing two cases for alleged defamation with the intent of intimidation and censorship, filed by a former official of the Cartes government.

It is the first independent lawsuit (private action) brought by Marta González, former Deputy Minister of Taxation during the previous government, for publications made in ABC Color in 2019 concerning data and criticisms of an exception-based contracting process to update the tax system, "Marangatú 2.0".

González Ayala is requesting a custodial sentence and compensation of USD 1,400,000 as a penalty for Zuccolillo and Lezcano.

At the end of the trial, the criminal sentencing judge Wilfrido Peralta, before taking voluntary retirement, issued a sentence against Zuccolillo and Lezcano, imposing a fine on both and an additional penalty on Zucolillo. Zuccolillo and Lezcano appealed, and the case continues before the Supreme Court of Justice.

González Ayala and her husband sued Zuccolillo and Lezcano in another case for defamation for publications in March 2021. The defendants were acquitted.