By Sebastián Carmona Soto*
Numerous protests led by journalists across Bolivia rallied earlier this month in the country's most important cities and squares to protest against a new federal transparency bill that would limit -- instead of expanding -- access to public information, news agency AFP reported.
The Sep. 4 protests in La Paz, Santa Cruz, Sucre and other cities were aimed at two specific articles in the Law for Transparency and Access to Public Information. Articles 42 and 43 establish that ministries, local governments, town halls and military authorities are not obligated to facilitate information to the public and the press when it’s classified as reserved.
Maritza Roca Bruno, representative of the Latin American School of Journalists (COLAPER) in Bolivia, one of the organizations leading the protests, told radio station Cadena A that these protests are "so that the government understands that [guaranteeing] the right to information is a duty which does not only refer to the journalists, but the population in general," newspaper La Razón reported.
Nardi Suxo, the minister of Transparency and Fight against Corruption and author of the bill, defended the proposed law by saying that the two contentious articles define rules and deadlines the government must follow to disclose classified information.
"The general rule of the norm is that all of the information is public," she said.
The Parliament’s Constitutional Commission has been working on the bill since June. Authorities say they are considering the protesters’ requests and corrections.
*Sebastián Carmona Soto is a student in the class "Reporting Latin America" at the University of Texas at Austin.
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.