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Peruvian journalism and politics after the election of Ollanta Humala as president

After Peru's polarized elections in which the mainstream media was accused of fronting a disinformation campaign, what is the role of journalism since the victory of Ollanta Humala? The renowned journalist Augusto Álvarez Rodrich wrote in La República: "Journalism that attempts to exercise the profession with decency and independence now has to proceed, with rigor, to monitor the new government, including the completion of its promises... There is no blank check, president-elect Ollanta Humala".

After signing a National Pact to reaffirm his commitment to democracy, the former military man Ollanta Humala said that he would not limit freedom of expression if he were elected. “We're not going to make a law to violate, confiscate, limit, or set parameters to freedom of expression. I want the press to be my ally, in the sense of being the watchdog for government actions. What better than a press that tells you the truth," Humala said, as quoted by RPP.

We don't want to return to the 90s, when press freedoms were violated, when the media was bought," he said, according to Terra.

It is important to note the role of writer, journalist and Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa in the campaign. Vargas Llosa supported Humala and denounced the biased election coverage of Grupo El Comercio, and even asked that his column not be published in that newspaper.

For his part, journalist Jaime Bayly used his television program to attack Humala, and declared after the election: "My programs on Channel 4 were useless to prevent his victory (...) I continue being a loser. Once more, I'm on the side of the losers."

Influential journalist César Hildebrandt was interviewed about the polarized election coverage shortly before the election by La República:

"The foreign press was surprised by the bias of the media and the unbalanced information. What do you think?"

"If you come as a foreign correspondent and demand absolute objectivity and the neutrality of Switzerland, than we are in agreement, but I had to ask a correspondent from El País if he would be neutral if Blas Piñar or some other person directly linked to Francoism were a candidate, or to a journalist from Le Monde, Le Figaro, if absolute neutrality should be used to judge a neo-Nazi movement or a movement of the extreme right with Jean-Marie Le Pen. While not confusing information with opinion, not distorting the facts and not lying, newspapers also have all the right to assume a point of view, especially when they believe the country is in danger; and in this case, it was in danger."

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.

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