Rural community radios in Paraguay accuse larger media outlets of pressuring them to shut down

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  • October 21, 2013

By Travis Knoll

Rural media organizations in Paraguay recently denounced alleged pressures by larger media outlets to shut down community radios.

In a statement published earlier this month, the Paraguayan Journalists’ Union (SPP) chastised the larger outlets for accusing community radios of aiding the Paraguayan People’s Army (EPP), an insurgent group that allegedly carried out attacks in the city of San Pedro on Oct. 1 that killed one and injured seven, according to news agency AFP. The EPP was also implicated in an October 2012 attack on a Paraguayan radio station.

This statement comes amidst important media discussions over democratizing the media. Currently, left-wing political party Frente Guasú (FG) is pushing for a new democratization initiative in the country’s Senate. The party – which includes former Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo among its ranks – has said it wants to create a media law to diversify media options and break up media conglomerates in a similar fashion to the proposed law in Uruguay and the laws now in effect in Argentina and Ecuador.

In its statement, the SPP argued that a “democratization” of the media is necessary and called on the government to support community radios that “promote democracy” by giving voice to marginalized groups such as indigenous communities and farm workers.

The accusations against the community radios, and the FG’s push to democratize the media to make space for these very stations, comes a year after disputes over land rights, which caused clashes between rural workers and the police and led to the impeachment of Lugo for "poor performance" after activists occupied the land of a wealthy businessman. Lugo had campaigned in 2008 on promises of land reform, promising to redistribute land to over 87,000 landless families.

Regional organizations such as UNASUR and MERCOSUR, quickly condemned the impeachment as lacking due process and suspended Paraguay from the organizations. It returned to UNASUR in August.

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.