Police storm television station critical of government in Bolivia

The Bolivian government raided offices and seized broadcasting equipment from a television station in the city of Cochabamba for allegedly failing to meet technical regulations, reported IFEX. According to executives at 33 SBT channel, the raid was a reprisal for the station's critical stance against the ruling Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS in Spanish) party, added the website.

Police beat executives, journalists and technicians at the station who tried to prevent government officials from the Transportation and Telecommunications authority from entering the building, according to the Bolivian National Press Association (ANP in Spanish). Video from a security camera showed station director Marianela Montenegro thrown to the ground and stomped by police when she yelled at one of the officials.

According to Montenegro the decision to storm the station was political, "the MAS had threatened to close down the channel," she told the news agency Bolivia Prensa. The Bolivian Ethical Journalism Court, a local organization, accused the station of broadcasting "discriminatory and racists messages against the government and President Evo Morales," added the news agency.

The ANP said that "any action intended to silence a media outlet, impacts on constitutional principles, freedom of expression and citizens' freedoms," according to the IFEX website. ANP went on to call for a guarantee of due process and the legal resolution of the conflict without violence.

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.