Despite paying tribute to press freedom on Chile's journalism day, president still criticized by journalists

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  • February 15, 2012

"Long live free press!" said the Chilean president, Sebastian Piñera, Monday, Feb. 13, on his Twitter account to commemorate Chile's journalism day, according to the news agency Emol. "A salute to the Chilean journalists and press on their national day," added Piñera via Twitter.

Curiously, the news attracted the attention of a few newspapers in Ecuador – like El ComercioLa Hora, and El Universo – where the country's president, Rafael Correa, has recently been widely criticized for his multiple attacks on press freedom and freedom of expression in his country.

Although not as serious as those in Ecuador, Chile has also suffered attacks on press freedom and freedom of expression lately. A few weeks ago, Chile fell back 47 places in the 2011-2012 Press Freedom Index, published by Reporters Without Borders, for the various attacks and arrests that journalists have suffered while covering the multiple protests happening in the country.

Chile was also criticized for proposing a law that would allow authorities to demand that the media hand over their information archives without a warrant, known as the “Hinzpeter Law.” After receiving multiple complaints from journalism unions in the country, the Chilean government withdrew the bill in January.

According to Radio Universidad de Chile, even though president Piñera made comments commending a free press and Chilean journalists, the Chilean press's current situation under Piñera's government has been criticized as one of the worst since the end of the dictatorship under Augusto Pinochet. “There is some worry among journalists that the attacks will increase in 2012,” the radio station added.