Attempts to censor public television in Paraguay prompt concern, protests against new government

By Liliana Honorato

On Wednesday, June 27, Reporters Without Borders expressed its concern over for freedom of information in Paraguay after the controversial impeachment and removal -- what some are calling a coup -- of President Fernando Lugo on June 22. Since then, the new government has attempted to censor the public television station TV Pública de Paraguay. The channel was launched as the country's first public TV station in May 2011.

According to the Salvadoran newspaper Prensa Gráfica, on Sunday, June 24, Paraguay's public television station's signal was interrupted for 26 minutes. Additionally, police under the authority of the new government of Federico Franco, who assumed the presidency 48 hours after Lugo was removed, ordered the removal of the station's director, Marcelo Martinessi, according to TeleSur.

Martinessi said that police, along with Cristian Vázquez, the communications director for the new government, ordered the station not to broadcast images of the protests by demonstrators supporting Lugo, according to the newspaper ABC.

The Peruvian newspaper El Comercio reported that anti-Franco demonstrators are protesting the new government's censorship attempts. Franco's government denied that it has plans to censor the media, El Comercio added.

Meanwhile, the Secretary for Information and Communication for Development in Paraguay said during a press conference that the new administration will guarantee freedom of expression in the country and respect the work of public media like Radio Nacional del Paraguay, Tv Pública, and the Public Information Agency, reported the newspaper La Nación.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.