26 January 2024

The press' ordeal: murder, repression and stigmatization

Weekly summary of press freedom in the Americas.
The Colombian press was saddened by the murder of journalist Mardonio Mejía, gunned down by hired killers at his home in the department of Sucre. The director of the Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP), Jonathan Bock, condemned the act and expressed his solidarity with Mejía's family through his X account. According to Infobae, the alleged murderer was arrested.

In Venezuela, Infobae journalist Sebastiana Barráez received an arrest warrant from the government of Nicolás Maduro after being accused of treason, terrorism and attempted murder against the president. "The Maduro regime has made us accustomed to its denunciations and inventing conspiracies every time it seeks to tie down the independent press," said the Inter American Press Association (IAPA).

This week, attention was also focused on the Dominican Republic due to the enactment of Law 1-24 which regulates the National Intelligence System and the National Intelligence Directorate (DNI). This measure generated concern due to the negative impact it could have on freedom of the press and the confidentiality of information sources.

Although the law is not in force, DNI agents detained Aneudy Betances, cameraman of Multimedios Su Mundo, while he was filming in front of their facilities. Betances reported that they searched him, took his equipment and his ID, and after 45 minutes let him go.

In three separate events, the Argentine president, Javier Milei, called journalists Luisa Corradini, María O'Donnell and Silvia Mercado liars. The LED Foundation, the Argentine Journalism Forum (FOPEA) and the Association of Argentine Journalistic Entities (ADEPA) condemned Milei's statements.

On the other hand, the President of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, continues his criticism of journalists during his morning conferences. On this occasion, the president lashed out against Carlos Loret de Mola and Carmen Aristegui, winner of the IAPA's Grand Prize for Press Freedom in 2023.

The Association of Journalists of El Salvador (APES) released a report on digital violence against journalists, which registered more than 4 thousand aggressions from October 2023 to January 10, 2024. During the first days of January 123 attacks were documented.

In the midst of the complex panorama faced by the press in the Americas, there is a reason for hope in Guatemala. During this week, a joint mission of the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is visiting the country to "address the complex situation faced by journalists in the exercise of their informative work".

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.