Brazilian presidential candidates debate journalism and press freedom

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  • August 20, 2010

By Maira Magro

The three top candidates heading into the country’s Oct. 3 election, Dilma RousseffJosé Serra, and Marina Silva, have signed onto the Chapultepec Declaration — an international charter, first signed in 1994 in México, that protects freedom of expression and information — at this week’s Brazilian Newspaper Association (ANJ) congress in Rio de Janeiro.

José Serra, the first to speak on Thursday, accused the current government (which includes Rousseff) of working to intimidate, manipulate, and censor the press, O Estado de S. Paulo reports. At the congress, he said that recent conferences to propose revisions to laws on human rights, culture, and communication were ways to “control the press;” expressed his opposition to a proposed National Journalism Council; and said that the state-run TV Brasil was created “to act as an instrument of power for one party,” Folha explains. TV Brasil responded by saying their coverage was nonpartisan and unbiased.

Rousseff was more abstract and said that she saw “freedom of access to information” as fundamental — the result of being from “a generation that knows the power of the gag rule, by living under the dictatorship,” Terra says. She said that she supports the conferences Serra opposes, including the one that deals with communication law, according to O Globo.

Silva spoke on Friday and said “The right to free expression must be exercised freely... Press freedom leads to the construction of a more just country,” O Globo adds, in another article.

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.