Bolivia backs off media regulation, for now

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  • February 7, 2012

The Bolivian government announced that it will not move forward with a new press law but that it does intend to "bring the work of the press and journalism into line with the new Constitution," reported the television channel Eju TV.

At the end of last year, Bolivian President Evo Morales declared his intention to regulate media content, alarming journalists in the Andean country.

In November 2011, the National Association of the Bolivian Press criticized the Morales government's proposed bill, arguing that any change to the existing press law would be a violation of human rights and could "affect the guarantee of freedom of the press and expression."

Passed in 1925, Bolivia's press law is the oldest in South America, according to the radio station FM Bolivia. Defenders of the law in the Bolivian press argue that it protects freedom of expression in the country.

Representatives in the Bolivian government, including Communication Minister Amanda Dávila and State Media Director Claudio Rossel, question the law's applicability in current times, reported Eju TV. Dávila went on to say that "the press does not understand who Evo is," the broadcaster reported.

In an interview with the newspaper El Diario, Iván Miranda Balcazar, political science professor at the University of San Andres, said that the press law needed to be expanded, not modified. Leaders from the Federation of Bolivian Press Workers and the Federation of Latin American Press Workers said that there should be amendments to the law covering new technologies while "defending the public's right to be informed."