IAPA: Attempts to silence the press continue to mount, especially in Mexico, Honduras, Ecuador and Argentina

The Inter American Press Association's (IAPA) 67th General Assembly in Lima, Peru, ended with the organization issuing a series of resolutions and conclusions highlighting the fact that "attempts to silence the independent press" in Latin America have continued to mount in 2011, as evidenced by the rampant "physical violence, the murder of journalists and the impunity of these crimes, lawsuits, arbitrary arrests, verbal abuse, and the manipulation of government advertising to laws or restrictive bills."

IAPA also singled out the killings of journalists in Mexico and Honduras, and government attacks against the press in Argentina and Ecuador. Further, the group condemned the "totalitarian, dictatorial character" of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, according to El Universal.

“The Inter American Press Association declared 2011 as the Year of Freedom of Expression," the organization said it in a statement after the congress ended Oct. 18. "As we approach the end of the year we find that obstacles and threats to freedom of the press have only increased in our hemisphere."

Calling the government take-overs of news media and the use of official government advertising to reward and punish newspapers "control weapons" that "hinder the free flow of information," IAPA issued country reports about such government manipulation of the news media for ArgentinaEcuadorGuatemalaNicaraguaPanamaVenezuela, and Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados.

For example, in the reports IAPA warns of "media colonization" by Argentine President Cristina Fernández, reported ABC Color, and the case of Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa's repeated attacks on the press is one of the most worrisome, according to El Comercio. Another ABC Color article noted that Correa said he "could care less" what IAPA thinks.

More country reports and country-specific resolutions, such as regarding impunity in Mexico, are available here.

Also during the congress, IAPA elected its new officers for 2011-2012. Milton Coleman of The Washington Post was named president, replacing outgoing president Gonzalo Marroquín of Siglo 21 in Guatemala.

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