IAPA says violence and authoritarianism threaten press freedom in Latin America

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  • November 8, 2010

By Ingrid Bachmann

The 66th Inter American Press Association (IAPA) Assembly took place in Mérida, Mexico, where the group warned that press freedom in the continent was threatened by violence and political repression, The Canadian Press reports.

In Mexico, it isn’t possible to practice a journalism [that is] free, responsible, and trustworthy. Journalists live with the tension and fear of drug trafficking,” said IAPA’s María Idalia Gómez during the meeting, quoted by AFP. The press is also under attack in Honduras, where impunity and a lack of public safety has led to violence against journalists, El Heraldo adds.

According to El Diario de Yucatán, participants held a minute of silence in memory of the at least 13 journalists who were killed over the last half year in Latin America.

Juan Francisco Ealy Ortiz, president of IAPA’s Commission against Impunity, said that all Mexican states should stiffen the penalties for killing a journalist, El Universal says.

Beyond criminal violence, IAPA was also concerned with attempts by governments to control the media through laws that affect freedom of expression, highlighting cases in VenezuelaBoliviaEcuador, and Argentina, El Informador explains.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos spoke at the meeting and advised journalists to not “fall into the [drug traffickers’] trap” and blame the government for the actions of organized crime. According to ANSA, he also asked media workers not to overemphasize news on criminal violence, saying they “run the risk that society will stop supporting the fight against organized crime.”

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.