Bolivian journalists in 11 cities protest anti-racism bill

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  • October 4, 2010

By Maira Magro

The proposed Law Against Racism and All Forms of Discrimination, introduced by President Evo Morales, was the target of journalist protests in 11 Bolivian cities on Friday, Oct. 1, the newspapers Los Tiempos and La Prensa report. In Potosí, journalists and news media went on strike for 24 hours, leaving the city without information, La Patria says.

The journalists said the bill violates freedom of expression and imposes censorship by calling for severe punishment for those who report opinions and acts considered racist, even if they are not condoned, La Patria explained. A journalist can be punished simply for writing about an incident of racism, they argue.

Members of the press met Friday with the Senate's Constitution Commission to seek the elimination of two articles in the bill, one that calls for the closure of news media that report racist ideas, and another that makes it a crime to distribute statements considered racist. The journalists also sought a meeting with Morales, who has accused some journalists of having links to the opposition, Radio FM Bolívia adds.

Several organizations have filed documents with the Senate to seek alterations to the bill, including the Journalists Association of La Paz, the National Association of Journalists, the Labor Confederation of Press Workers of Bolivia, the Bolivian Association of Radio Broadcasters, and the National Press Association.

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.