Report: While attacks on press decrease, self-censorship on the rise in Guatemala

In 2010 there were only 19 attacks against journalists and media outlets in Guatemala – a sharp decline from 60 and 69 in 2009 and 2008, respectively – however a Cerigua study shows that self-censorship is rising in areas affected by drug trafficking, Prensa Libre reports.

In the report titled “State of Freedom of Expression 2010,” Cerigua discusses the low number of articles about organized crime and drug trafficking in the five top Guatemalan dailies relative to the increase in such criminal activity.

The report states that Guatemalan journalists are facing new threats and dangers, as new actors look to “intimidate them, co-opt them, censor them, and – if necessary – kill them.”

The fear journalists have of these organizations, based on threats and attacks, stops them from publishing news related to their criminal activities,” said journalist Ileana Alamilla, the report’s organizer, quoted by Terra.

In some Guatemalan departments, like ZacapaIzabal, and Petén, which have historically suffered from organized crime, there were very few articles on the topic last year, which likely indicates direct censorship or self-censorship, Cerigua explained.

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.