12 January 2024

This week: Live terror, more harassment and stigmatization

New aggressions and hostilities against freedom of the press were added to the serious events in Ecuador.
The press in the Americas registered this week an unprecedented attack by armed gang members in Ecuador who broke into the live signal of the station TC Television of Guayaquil, beat, threatened and held hostage journalists and other workers of the channel. Communicator José Luis Calderón had guns pointed at his head and then a stick of dynamite was placed in his clothes. The serious incident occurred in the midst of other attacks and kidnappings in various parts of the country.

The organization Fundación Andina para la Observación y Estudio de Medios (Fundamedios) reported that Ecuadorian journalists from other media received threatening calls from criminal gangs. Radio Centro de Guayaquil, among others, suspended its programming until basic guarantees to work safely were restored.

In Argentina, President Javier Milei called journalist Silvia Mercado of LN+ a "serial liar" due to information related to the president's dogs. He also said that "the impunity with which some journalists invent and operate lies is scandalous", according to press reports. The incident was condemned by the Asociación de Entidades Periodísticas Argentinas (ADEPA), the Foro de Periodismo Argentino (FOPEA) and the Academia Nacional de Periodismo.

In Colombia, three journalists of Noticias Caracol reported being harassed by an ex-military officer, who even waited for them outside the vicinity of the television channel to intimidate them.

On the other hand, the organization Article 19 demanded the release of Ángel Cuza, Cuban journalist and activist, arbitrarily detained while trying to buy food. Cuza has been the victim of multiple arbitrary detentions, threats and police summonses. On November 7 he was sentenced to one year and six months in prison for "public disorder".

Article 19 also warned that a violent year is ahead for Mexico's journalists. "What we see with concern is the end of a year in which more violent aggressions have begun to increase," Leopoldo Maldonado, director of the organization, told EFE news agency.

Finally, in Guatemala, Judge Aurora Gutiérrez closed the criminal case against six elPeriódico journalists who had been accused of publishing "malicious information". Gutiérrez determined that the jurisdiction of the case corresponds to a printing court. José Rubén Zamora, founder of the newspaper, has been detained since July 2022.

APA 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.