Paraguayan government denies it tried to limit coverage of President Lugo's health

  • By
  • October 18, 2010

By Maira Magro

In a failed attempt to avoid speculations in the press about the health of Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo, who is undergoing treatment for lymphatic cancer, the president's brother, Pompeyo Lugo, asked the courts to prevent the media from revealing any information recorded in the official medical reports. The appeal for protection was removed days later, after protests and cries of censorship, according to La Nación.

The appeal accused the press of promoting sensationalism and causing confusion, misinformation and disclosing "false facts in a malicious manner" with the purpose of creating "anarchy and social upheaval," added the newspaper ABC Color. Pompeyo Lugo, quoted in La Nación, said the point of the appeal was to "protect the privacy of the patient."

After the media warned that such restrictions constituted a threat to press freedom and the right to access information, the Paraguayan government denied that the president had authorized the appeal for legal protection. "Any initiative that seeks to restrict freedom of expression in Paraguay is nonsense," said Communications Minister Augusto dos Santos.

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.