Five Latin American journalists were killed during the past six months: three in Mexico, one in Argentina and another in Honduras.
More than 30 were attacked in Peru, and 32 threatened in Colombia. The transfer of power in Cuba from Fidel Castro to his brother Raúl did not improve the status of the 25 journalists still in prison or the adverse working conditions of independent journalists.
These were some of the events cited last week by the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) to show a “troubling decline” in Latin American press freedoms.
At its mid-year meeting in Caracas, Venezuela, the press association highlighted judicial rulings and court cases against journalists in the region.
IAPA condemned Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez’s treatment of the media. In Venezuela, where the March 28-30 meeting was held, “President Hugo Chávez and several of his ministers continued their hostile attitude toward independent newspapers and journalists,” the association said. After Radio Caracas Televisión was shut down last year, threats against Globovisión have been stepped up recently.
Some improvements have been made, however, with Nicaragua among several countries to introduce new laws to allow public access to official information.
But IAPA still listed Nicaragua among countries whose press freedoms have suffered, along with Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela, Honduras, Ecuador, Mexico, Brazil, Guayana, Dominican Republic, Bolivia and Argentina.
News media in these nations, the association asserts, have faced threats ranging from verbal attacks, censorship and impunity in crimes against journalists to government discrimination against newspapers’ editorial policies by punishing or rewarding them with government advertising.