UNITAS Observatory records 73 press freedom violations in 2021

UNITAS Rights Defenders Observatory recorded 73 press freedom violations in 2021, with attacks on journalists by government agencies and other organizations being the most common.

Through a methodology of monitoring media, social networks and interviewing victims, this observatory counted obstruction of access to information (nine cases), censorship (seven cases), stigmatization of journalists (seven cases) and threats against journalists as other violations (seven cases), criminalization of journalists (six cases), attack on a media company (one case), discriminatory attribution of official advertising (one case) and breach of confidentiality of information sources (A case).

The most relevant cases related to journalist aggression include the kidnapping and torture of seven journalists at the Las Londras property in Santa Cruz (10/28/21); the arrest and ill-treatment by the police suffered by the journalist from Página Siete, Carlos Quisbert, in the Adepcoca conflict (09/22/21), as well as two other correspondents of the Reuters agency injured in the same incident; the ambush and subsequent beatings received by land invaders by a team from the newspaper Los Tiempos (7/28/21); the attack on two Opinion journalists by supporters of the Mayor of Cochabamba Manfred Reyes Villa (09/21/21); the attack on Bolivia TV journalist Claudia Pardo and her cameraman César Reyes at the Santa Cruz anniversary events (24/09/21); the attacks on journalists in the intersectoral citizens’ strike in Potosí, Oruro, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz (8, 9 and 21/10), the attack on the journalist of the Patria Nueva network, Jeruslava Ojeda, by women of the Santa Cruz Committee (15/12 21) among others.

Regarding the censorship cases, Health Secretary Jeyson Auza’s accusation that the media was “politicizing” and “fearing” because of the lack of vaccines, Sputnik V (07/22/21), the complaint of the Inter-American Society for Producing Violence Against Journalists the campaign for the alleged “coup” against former President Evo Morales (04/22/21), the announcement of the deputy Renán Cabezas (MAS) to work on a bill avoid the lies of the pollsters (02/18/21).

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In terms of obstructing access to information, what stands out is the harsher punishment for officials who disclose classified “messages” contained in Law 1390 “Strengthening Anti-Corruption” or in the internal memo of Santa Cruz Mayor Jhonny Fernández , through which he “bans” the sharing of information without prior authorization after the “ghost objects” case was uncovered. That notice was withdrawn days later.

For example, in cases of stigmatization of journalists, the statements of the Minister of Justice, Ivan Lima, were recorded on social networks when he tweeted that six media outlets (Página Siete, Los Tiempos, Correo del Sur, El Deber, ANF and Erbol ) should with thought and commitment one Include Pope Francis’ message on the logic of post-truth. There’s also the tweet from Attorney General Wilfredo Chávez, who, in response to a cartoon by that outlet, launched a vile attack on Page Seven by turning it into toilet paper in an image.

Among the cases of criminalization of journalists is the case of the journalist Quisbert of Página Siete, mentioned above, or that of the journalist Guider Arancibia of El Deber, summoned by the prosecutor for his investigations into trucks confiscated from drug dealers used by groups of hooded men who They attacked the citizens who were complying with the multisectoral strike of November or the summons that the police tried to serve on the President of the Journalists’ Association of Potosí, Manuel Soux, after he, along with other journalists, discovered the President of the Legislative Meeting of the Potosí department, Marcial Ayali, leading anti-strike shock groups.

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Threats against journalists were also noted. Such is the case in a case filed against a journalist from El Deber investigating the 2019 crisis (7/31/21); or the anonymous threats against journalists from Potosí after the police operation used to arrest citizens of this department, including the former chairman of the Potosinist Citizens’ Committee, Marco Pumari (11.12.21) or the threat of former President Evo Morales against media covering about reported the march he led in support of the Luis Arce government (11/26/21).

An attack on a communication medium was registered: Radio FM Bolivia, which suffered the attack on its offices in Adepcoca during the conflict by the leadership of this organization (09/22/21). In the case of the discriminatory allocation of official advertising, this refers to statements by the supranational MAS parliamentarian Adolfo Mendoza, who called for “zero advertising for media mercenaries!” via his Twitter account. “Any company or public entity that provides funding for advertising in these media (other than citizen information) becomes a collaborator in democratic destabilization,” Mendoza said.

There was also a case of breach of confidentiality of information sources when prosecutor Odalis Leonor Peñaranda asked Radio Yungas el Chasqui and Radio FM Bolivia to broadcast a copy of the journalistic reports recorded in the city of Coripata-Auquisamaña Bajo y Alto 3 and 6 July 2021 as part of the investigation into the death of police officer Miguel Ángel Quispe Nina. He also issued subpoenas against the director of Radio Yungas el Chasqui, Eliana Ayaviri, against that medium’s journalists Juan C. Mamani and Luis Callizaya, and against the director of Radio FM Bolivia, Galo Hubner, although he later decided to suspend those calls .

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