12 April 2024

Latin American journalists face strong intimidation from political power

The Argentine president, Javier Milei, escalated his attacks against the media and journalism and celebrated the possible bankruptcy of a journalistic company critical of his government. "Journalism has been corrupted, dirtied and prostituted in the heat of the envelopes and official advertising," said the president in a statement published in X.

The Association of Argentine Journalistic Entities (ADEPA) and other journalists' organizations and unions condemned the president's remarks for generating "a climate of hostility and intimidation of journalistic work".

Other Latin American presidents involved in the systematic intimidation of the press are Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico and Gustavo Petro of Colombia. Mexican journalist Raymundo Rivas Palacio stated in his last column that "persecution of journalists is the favorite pastime" of the Mexican president.

For its part, Colombia's main public media company, RTVC, is under pressure from Petro's government and cases of self-censorship have been reported in order not to contradict the official discourse.

In Retalhuleu, Guatemala, police detained journalist Jorge Tizol while he was covering a police operation. In an interview with the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Tizol explained that he was arrested for trespassing without giving him time to leave the scene. CPJ urged the authorities to drop the legal proceedings against the journalist.

In Peru, an investigation was initiated against the prosecutors of the Lava Jato case and against journalist Gustavo Gorriti. They were asked to hand over the telephones they used during the investigation period of the Odebrecht case in order to reveal their communications and sources. The Peruvian journalistic guild and several organizations in defense of freedom of expression around the world expressed their solidarity with Gorritti. "I will not give, nor will IDL-Reporteros give, any information about contacts or calls," said the journalist.

Ecuador's Constitutional Court ordered the State and Public Security Council (Cosepe) to declassify information linked to the 2018 murder of the El Comercio journalists. The authorities must deliver to the families of the victims the information that until now was kept reserved and that could revive the case.

According to a report by the Foundation for Freedom of Expression and Democracy (FLED), 36 Nicaraguan journalists have stopped practicing journalism during the first three months of 2024 due to loss of publicity, stations going off the air, and intimidation of journalists". The organization also registered 251 journalists in exile.

IAPA is a non-profit organization dedicated to defending and promoting freedom of the press and freedom of expression in the Americas. It is comprised of more than 1,300 publications in the Western Hemisphere and is headquartered in Miami, Florida, United States.