The 75th General Assembly of the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) concluded that the past six months have been a “particularly disastrous” period for the press in the region, the organization said on Oct. 7.
This is due to murders of journalists, as well as assaults on media professionals and restrictions on freedom of expression and human rights in several countries, according to the IAPA’s conclusions, published at the end of its annual event held this year in Miami.
The organization has reported 13 murders of journalists since last April: seven in Mexico, two in Brazil, two in Colombia, one in Haiti and one in Honduras. “A particularly disastrous semester – showing a rise in the level of aggressions and threats,” the IAPA wrote.
It also noted that in Cuba, Mexico, Nicaragua and Venezuela there are “the greatest aggressions and violations against freedom of the press and expression.” “Physical attacks against journalists in the exercise of their profession – including confiscation of equipment and press material, and unjustified arrests – are increasingly common,” the organization said.
The IAPA highlighted that in Cuba, “sentencing and imprisonment for journalists is once again a reality,” citing the case of Roberto de Jesús Quiñones Haces. The Cuban journalist began a one-year prison sentence in September for the crimes of resistance and disobedience. The organization said that more than 20 sites were blocked on the island and the government banned about 20 journalists from leaving the country in the last six months.
Regarding Nicaragua, the IAPA said that the report on this country caused “general outrage.” It noted “media confiscated, journalists persecuted and others threatened, in addition to the blockade of newspaper supplies at Customs.” It also highlighted that a few hours after a mission from the organization arrived in Nicaragua, journalists Lucía Pineda and Miguel Mora were freed after spending six months in prison. "The union of all the media has shown that together, we can make a difference," IAPA President María Elvira Domínguez said.
The organization also noted that in Brazil, El Salvador, the United States, Guatemala, Mexico and Nicaragua the stigmatization of the media and journalists is on the rise.” In these countries, “The discrediting originates with the Heads of State themselves, and is spread through social networks,” the IAPA wrote.
The organization considered news in Argentina about the legal proceedings against journalist Daniel Santoro “unfortunate.” He is accused of involvement in an extortion and espionage scheme along with three other journalists. According to the IAPA, “Several organizations have expressed their concern about a judicial decision that criminalizes the practice of journalism and ignores the established principle of protecting the sources.”
The organization also noted attempts to limit the exercise of journalism through the use of “criminal regulations and the filing of million-dollar lawsuits” against media outlets and journalists in Colombia, El Salvador, Panama and Peru. It observed that press freedom “continues to decline” in Venezuela with the “systematic blockage” of sites and “threats and aggressions that have created an environment of extreme insecurity for the practice of the profession.”
The 75th IAPA General Assembly hosted the 2019 Journalistic Excellence Awards presented by the organization and sponsored by some of the 1,300 publications of which it’s composed.
Colombian journalist Jineth Bedoya Lima received the Press Freedom Grand Prize “for her courage, integrity, leadership and investigative quality in favor of freedom of the press and the public's right to be informed,” the IAPA wrote. “In its recognition, the IAPA highlights the work of women journalists who are exposed to risks, stigmatization and censorship.”
Bedoya Lima, who is now a deputy editor of the newspaper El Tiempo, has been fighting for justice for 19 years after being abducted, tortured and sexually assaulted in retaliation for her work in May 2000. She founded the #NoEsHoraDeCallar (It’s not time to be silent) campaign in 2009 to encourage survivors of sexual violence to report and seek justice, El Tiempo said.
On her Twitter profile, the journalist commented on receiving the award: “A very special night, in which I reaffirm that journalism has a social responsibility; that we are able to transform someone's life with what we communicate and it must always be something positive. That the word, the image and the voice are magic…”
Additionally, press professionals from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, El Salvador, Ecuador, the U.S., Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru and Venezuela were recognized for their work. See the full list of winners below:
Press Freedom Grand Prize:
Jineth Bedoya Lima, Colombian journalist
"Oficio de alto riesgo" (High risk job), El Imparcial de Oaxaca, Mexico. Author: Darío Castillejos.
Honorable mention: "Donald Trump", El Economista, México. Author: Salvador del Toro.
News coverage on the internet:
"Cobertura en vivo: protestas en Nicaragua" (Live coverage: protests in Nicaragua), La Prensa, Nicaragua. Authors: Dora Luz Romero, Moisés Martínez, Yubelka Mendoza, Isela Baltodano, Julio Estrada, Cindy Fuller, Mario Rueda, Engell Vega.
"Trama de corrupción” (Public corruption), La Nación, Argentina. Authors: Diego H. Cabot, Candela Ini.
Honorable mention: "Concesión irregular de contratos" (Illegal contract awards), La Prensa, Panamá. Author: Mary Trini Zea.
Honorable mention: "Los errores del papa Francisco" (Errors of Pope Frances), The Associated Press, U.S. Authors: Eva Vergara, N. Winfield.
News coverage on mobiles:
"Memorias del exilio: qué se llevan de recuerdo los que huyen a pie de Venezuela" (Exile memories: What those who fled Venezuela chose to take with them,” La Nación, Argentina. Authors: Florencia Fernández Blanco, Nicolás Cassese, Mauro Rizzi, Pablo Loscri, Cristian Bertelegni, Gastón De la Llana.
Honorable mention: "Cobertura eleitoral" (Election coverage), Aos Fatos, Brazil. Authors: Sérgio Spagnuolo, Tai Nalon, Bernardo Moura, Ana Rita Cunha, Bárbara Libório, Luiz Fernando Menezes, Alexandre Aragão, Judite Cypreste.
"Mi secuestro" (My abduction), Prodavinci, Venezuela. Author: Luisa Paulina Salomón.
Honorable mention: "Ver, oír y linchar en Chichicastenango" (See, Listen to Aggression in Chichicastenango), El Faro, El Salvador. Author: Roberto Valencia.
"Piaçaba: exploração no coração da Amazônia" (Piacaba: Exploration and corruption in the Amazon), Câmera Record-Record TV, Brazil. Authors: Sheila Manuela Martins Fernandes, Romeu Piccoli, Rodrigo Bettio, Marcio Strumiello, Gustavo Costa, Rafael Gomide, Natália Florentino, Rafael Ramos.
Honorable mention: "Voces del Desamparo" (Voices of the unprotected), El Pitazo, Runrun.es and Tal Cual and others, Venezuela. Authors: Yelitza Linares, Carolina Alvarado, Ana María Carrano, Yaya Andueza, Gabriela Goncalves, Isabela IIturriza, Juan Vicente Bruzual, Alan González, Nadeska Noriega, Johanna Osorio, Génesis Carrero, Armando Altuve, María Jesús Vallejo, Lorena Meléndez, Víctor Amaya, Giovanna Pellicani, Rossanna Batistelli, Irene Revilla, María Fernanda Rodríguez, Ruth Lara Castillo, Sheyla Urdaneta, Oriana Faoro, Alexander Olvera, Jesymar Añez, Liz Gascón, Keren Torres, Lorena Bornacelly, Marieva Fermín, Daniela Dávila, Elsy Torres, Antonio Ramón Hernández, Rayner Peña, Hirsaid Gómez, Jesús Hernández, Oscar Duque, Álvaro Hernández Angola, Carlos Landaeta, Cruz Alejandro Sojo, Elías Miranda, Nicolás Franco, Germán Dam.
"Crisis política de Nicaragua" (Political crisis in Nicaragua), Confidencial, Nicaragua. Author: Carlos Alberto Herrera González.
Honorable mention: "Asalto al banco de Hermosillo" (Bank robbery in Hermosillo), El Imparcial, Mexico. Author: Anahí Velásquez Valdez.
"Vida y obra: Boticelli, Van Goh, Hopper" (Life and Art: Boticelli, Van Gogh, Hopper) El Mercurio, Chile. Author: Juan Pablo Bravo.
Honorable mention: "Tren del metro" (Metro train), El Telégrafo, Ecuador. Author: Carlos Javier Almeida.
"Para o duplipensar brasileiro, Roger Waters é uma ameaça" (To doublethink Brazil, Roger Waters is a threat), M.O.V.I.N.[UP], Brazil. Author: Maurício Angelo.
Honorable mention: "Esto pasa todos los días" (This happens every day), GK, Ecuador. Author: Isabela Ponce.
"La búsqueda de los desaparecidos" (The search for the disappeared), El Tiempo, Bogotá, Colombia. Authors: Sara Castillejo, Ginna Morelo, Manuel Alzate.
Honorable mention: "El poder en Cuba" (Power in Cuba), Postdata.club, Cuba. Authors: Yudivián Almeida Cruz, Saimi Reyes Carmona, Ernesto A. Guerra Valdés.
"Implant Files", U.S. Authors: ICIJ and others
Honorable mention: "DineroLeaks" (Money leaks), Ojo Público, Peru. Authors: Oscar Castilla, Ernesto Cabral Mejía, Jonathan Castro C., Jason Martínez V..
"O levante dos ribeirinhos" (Expelling the Ribeirinhos), Metrópoles, Brazil. Authors: Eumano Silva, Lilian Tahan, Priscilla Borges, Maria Eugênia Moreira, Olívia Meireles, Eumano Silva, Denise Costa, Michael Melo, Gilberto Alves, Gui Prímola, Stela Woo, Cícero Lopes, Gabriel Pereira, Allan Rabelo, Saulo Marques, Vinícius Paixão.
Honorable mention: "Informe Río Sonora: La omisión que quitó vida a miles" (Sonora River Report: The omission that cost thousands of lives), Mexico. Authors: Priscila Cárdenas Sánchez, Proyecto Puente, Connectas and Aristegui Noticias.
"Historias de Tierradentro" (Regional stories), El Punto, Colômbia. Authors: Andrea Valentina Villamil, Nathaly Victoria Pabón Calderón, Carlos Andrés Lugo Berrio, Andrea Valentina Villamil Goenaga.
Honorable mention: "Cuando los 25 del 350 fuimos uno solo" (When 25 of 350 were one), La Vida de Nos, Venezuela. Author: Patricia Pilar Rodríguez.