IAPA Sees No Reason to Celebrate International Press Freedom Day

Mauren Barriga and Leonardo Muñoz, and the Spaniard Gonzalo Domínguez. The three journalists were arrested in Caracas in 2019. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 3 May 2019 — The president of the Inter-American Press Association, María Elvira Domínguez, has broadcast a message for World Press Freedom Day in which she says that it is not a day “to celebrate in our Americas” where the murder of journalists, arrests and censorship continue to restrict the work of informing.

“We can not celebrate when the authoritarian regimes of Daniel Ortega, Nicolás Maduro and Miguel Díaz-Canel repress, censure freedom of the press, freedom of expression and the right of citizens to freedom of assembly and to demonstrate peacefully,” the director of the Colombian newspaper El País also emphasized.

Dominguez remembers journalists Miguel Mora and Lucía Pineda, who “are still in jail in Nicaragua without due process” and also the alarming figures of reporters who lost their lives in the region. “Since May 2018, 26 journalists were killed in Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Honduras and the United States, crimes perpetrated by corrupt officials, organized crime gangs and criminals who wanted to silence their complaints,” he adds.

“Nor can we have peace of mind when in countries like Mexico the system of protection and security of journalists has failed and is inefficient, we can not be satisfied when the majority of crimes against journalists occur in total impunity,” laments the president of the IAPA.

As an additional concern, Dominguez notes the existence of “stigmatization campaigns carried out by democratic leaders that seek to reduce the credibility of the press to govern with greater comfort, as has been happening in Brazil, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and the United States.”

In these circumstances it is impossible, says the journalist, to have “peace when freedom of the press and expression are besieged by violent discussions that occur in social networks, as well as polarization.” In his text, he denounces “the tendentious dissemination of information that seeks to twist elections through false news disseminated by battalions of bots and cybermilitants.”

In the midst of the turbulent situation in Venezuela, the president of the IAPA regrets that official censorship disrespects the right of Venezuelans to access information through any media and platform available, while the Nicaraguan regime “has leveled, closed and confiscated media and as a result of official harassment more than 60 journalists sought refuge in other countries.”

Canada also came in for criticism on this day of Freedom of the Press. Dominguez says that in that country “there is still a tendency to persecute journalists to reveal their sources.” Meanwhile, in nations such as Chile, Colombia and Costa Rica “bills are promoted that would affect the practice of journalism” and in Argentina “the right to privacy is applied in a discriminatory manner.” For its part, in Bolivia “the media is economically suffocated” and in Peru “public access to government information is restricted” and “opinion is criminalized” as in many other countries of the Americas.

World Press Freedom Day was established in commemoration of the Windhoek Declaration, a document that contains principles on the defense of freedom of the press, drafted in 1991 during a meeting of African journalists promoted by the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO).


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