Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Latin American press face “tragic” times

Robert Rivard, the head of a commission of the Inter American Press Association (IAPA), proclaimed that 2011 is the “most tragic year in the last two decades” for Latin American journalists. Since Rivard made those remarks in late July a series of incidents seem to have validated his claim.
  • The bodies of a pair of Mexican journalists, the founder of an investigative magazine and a freelancer, were found near Mexico City last week. Authorities said that the corpses of Ana Maria Marcela Yarce Viveros and Rocio Gonzalez were naked with their limbs bound and strangulation marks around their necks. Mexico City’s Attorney General mentioned the possibility that both women may’ve been targeted as part of a “gender crime” but did not discard their professions as a possible motive for their murders.
  • A suspected Dominican drug trafficker is believed to be behind the murder of local journalist Jose Agustin Silvestre. Silvestre, who was reportedly preparing a “bombshell” corruption story in the next edition of his magazine, was kidnapped and slain just over a month ago. The alleged mastermind behind the murder, Matias Avelino Castro, remains at large though police have detained his daughter.
  • Peruvian journalist Kitty Vela asserted that she has been the target of numerous threats possibly related to her investigative work. She further claimed that an hit man confessed to being paid $1800 in exchange for killing her.
  • IAPA president Gonzalo Marroquín recently called on Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa to “cease his harassment against the press.” Carlos Lauria, the senior program coordinator for the Americas at the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, appeared to echo these concerns in a report published last week. “Over the course of Correa’s tenure, the administration has created an elaborate legal framework to restrict news media,” mentioned the report that also accused Correa of using the state media as his “political megaphone.”
  • The above examples have thus far detailed instances of external dangers to the press but there are occasions when a few bad apples spoil the barrel. Such was the case of Ernesto Yamhure, columnist for Colombian daily El Espectador, who resigned last Wednesday over alleged ties to the late paramilitary chief Carlos Castaño. Yamhure and Castaño would provide pointers to one another such as the time the former advised the latter “over a communiqué that the paramilitaries were going to present to (then-president) Alvaro Uribe” concerning the demobilization process.
Image- AFP via The Guardian (“The Mexican journalists Marcela Yarce (left) and Rocio González, who were found dead in Mexico City.”)

Online Sources- Too many to list!

No comments: