Bolivian government threatens to sue news agency for alleged defamation campaign against President Evo Morales

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  • August 23, 2012

By Liliana Honorato

The Bolivian government said that it would sue the Fides News Agency (ANF in Spanish) for alleged defamation against Bolivian President Evo Morales, although the case is still being analyzed by a legal team, reported the newspaper Los Tiempos.

The complaint was made after ANF published a headline for a story about President Morales' speech given on Aug. 15 in the town of Tiahuanacu. The headline read: “Evo says that if the east goes hungry, it is because of 'laziness,'" reported the ANF. According to Clases de Periodismo, the news caused protests in the department of Santa Cruz.

According to radio FM Bolivia, Morales literally said that “In eastern Bolivia...only because of lazy ones can we go hungry." To use the word “flojera” (laziness) instead of “flojos” (lazy people) is a “serious fault,” said government official Jorge Perez during a press conference, accusing the ANF of a lack of ethics and of running a campaign to discredit Morales and his government, added the newspaper Opinión.

Bolivia's Minister of Communications, Amanda Dávila, also accused the ANF of systematically "distorting" what government officials say and of reproducing information in a “malicious, tendentious, and provoking” manner, reported the ANF.

The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) criticized the government's threat to sue the ANF. “What the two government officials say against the news agency is misguided, worrisome and more like acts of intimidation,” said the president of IAPA's Press and Information Freedom Commission, Gustavo Mohme.

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.