GIEI: Number of cases of violence against the press threaten democracy

The report of the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI) concludes that during the 2019 crisis there were no guarantees for press workers and they were attacked by demonstrators, police and military and that due to the acute political polarization, the press was branded as ” Liar “,” sold “,” coup plotter “,” masista “or accused of” there was no press “.

“There were no essential guarantees for the exercise of the profession, as the described incidents of hostility and physical attacks against journalists showed. On the other hand, the intimidation of companies, cooperatives, radio and television stations from community associations, non-governmental organizations, governments or states at local and national level that have suffered blockages, burns and destruction of devices and facilities constitutes an attack on freedom of expression and information dar “reads the GIEI document in the section on freedom of expression.

He identified the attack on 58 journalists, but another source, such as the Bolivian National Press Association (ANP), registered 76 journalists and 14 media outlets who suffered attacks in October and November 2019.

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The international group noted that most of the cases occurred in La Paz and Cochabamba departments and that the attackers were the security forces and the protesters themselves, “divided between those who denounced possible ‘electoral fraud’ ‘and those who claimed they are “. before a ‘coup’ “.

The GIEI concluded that the number of acts of violence recorded in such a short period from September to December 2019 posed a threat to democracy. He noted that the attacks on freedom of the press were carried out through hostility, intimidation and physical aggression.

“‘It has never been so difficult to do journalism in Bolivia. The social climate and the acute political polarization led to all sorts of accusations against the press, which was branded as’ liar ‘,’ sold ‘,’ coup plotter ‘or’ masista ‘, depending on which one or the other of the main factions in the conflict is branded as obedient, “says the GIEI.

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He stated that the journalists had received “sexist insults” on top of the complaints against all press agents. In other cases, in places with fences, they assumed powers beyond all legality, “such as carrying out area controls, searching the bags or belongings of passers-by and journalists, and allowing or preventing the movement of people and vehicles between districts and other locations the streets. Cities “.

During the 2019 crisis, several journalists were attacked both in the government of former President Evo Morales and in the interim administration of Jeanine Áñez. The GIEI collected testimony and many press workers said they were sprayed with pepper spray, beaten by the protesters and the police themselves, others that their equipment had been stolen, some were forced to remove pictures of their equipment and many were even threatened with it do not report further.

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