Organization of state news agencies withdraws from Paraguay, accuses private media of prompting "small coups"

By Liliana Honorato

The Latin American Union of News Agencies (ULAN in Spanish) accused private news media outlets of provoking "small coups" in Latin America and also withdrew membership from the Paraguayan Information state news agency (IP Paraguay) “until a new legitimate government arises," the Union said, condemning the institutional coup against former Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo on July 22, reported the news agencies EFE and Télam.

The events happened July 19 and 20 in La Paz, Bolivia, during the Second Meeting of the Executive Council of the ULAN, an organization that represents the official governmental and public news agencies of nine countries in Latin America (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Venezuela, and Paraguay, which is now suspended).

"The private news media outlets linked to conservative politics will continue to act in ways that are ever more counterrevolutionary and even in favor of a coup. If there are no conflicts, they will invent them," said ULAN's vice president, Álvaro García Linera, reported the newspaper Los Tiempos.

The decision to withdraw from Paraguay was made by the Executive Committee of the ULAN, which was reasserting its “principles of democratizing information and universalizing the right to information,” reported the Bolivian Information Agency.

After the controversial dismissal of President Lugo, several journalism unions complained about violations of freedoms of expression and press. According to news agencies Télam and UPI, Paraguayan journalists from public media denounced layoffs and a campaign to discredit public media, initiated by the administration of President Federico Franco, who replaced President Lugo. Reporters Without Borders said that at least eight journalists and public press employees or employees that worked under Lugo's administration were fired.

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.