Hardly seven months have gone by and 2011 is already the most "tragic year in the last two decades for the Latin American press." Already, 19 journalists have been killed according to an analysis published July 29 by the Inter-American Press Society (IAPA).
The Executive Committee of SIP met in Miami to address the deterioration of press freedom in the region over the past few months. Latin American journalists and independent media face violence from organized crime, and judicial and legislative harassment. In a press conference following the meeting SIP managers declared their "great concern" for the journalists murdered and blamed impunity and a lack of political will by the region's governments for not solving the crimes, Hora Cero reported.
Mexico was named the most dangerous country with five murdered journalists, according to SIP. However, local media raised the number to seven. Mexico was closely followed by Honduras and Brazil with four each. Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela have all lost one journalist to violence this year.
SIP also referred to "legal harassment" through defamation laws as a threat to press freedom in some countries (such as Peru) and the approval of new communication laws that impose greater state control over the media, in countries like Ecuador.
This kind of judicial harassment is widespread in Brazil, El Salvador, Paraguay and Venezuela, "where journalists and the media have been censured and fined." Meanwhile in Peru, where journalists have been sentenced to jail time for defamation, the Congress recently abolished jail sentences for the crime, substituting them with fines and community service.
SIP also denounced the indiscriminate use of advertising and electioneering in Argentina, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Venezuela, and criticized policies that concentrate media control in the hands of the state as seen in these same countries, according to La Tribuna.
The following is a list of the journalists killed so far this year:
Colombia: Luis Eduardo Gómez (June 30).
El Salvador: Alfredo Hurtado (April 25).
Guatemala: Yensi Roberto Ordóñez Galdámez (May 19).
Mexico: Yolanda Ordaz de la Cruz (July 26); Miguel Ángel López Velasco (June 20); Noel López Olguín (June 1); Luis Emmanuel Ruiz Carrillo (March 24); and Rodolfo Ochoa Moreno (February 10). Disappeared: Marco Antonio López (June 7).
Paraguay: Medardo Moreno (March 3).
Peru: Julio Castillo Narváez (May 3).
Venezuela: Wilfred Ojeda (May 17).
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