8 September 2010

President Kirchner lunges for control of two leading newspapers; journalist slain


Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has accused two leading newspapers of colluding with the military regime more than 30 years ago, and is now attempting to control the production and sale of newsprint, report the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). There is a long history of press freedom feuds in Argentina. But the murder of journalists is rare. A Bolivian journalist who lived and worked in a shanty town in Buenos Aires was stabbed to death on 4 September, report the Foro de Periodismo Argentino (FOPEA) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

On 24 August, President Kirchner said the 1976 sale of a newsprint manufacturer to "Clarín" and "La Nación" newspapers was illegal because the owner was forced to make a deal under duress by the junta. The state is trying to draft legislation to declare newsprint supply a matter of public concern and subject to government regulation. The government is submitting a 400-page report, "Papel Prensa: The Truth," to the judiciary for a full investigation. Papel Prensa supplies newsprint to 170 dailies countrywide.

Kirchner's report came a week after her administration decided to cancel the license of Clarín's Internet service provider, Fibertel.

Journalists at "Clarín" and "La Nación" believe the government is attempting to intimidate and silence critics. However, journalists sympathetic to the government said the Papel Prensa investigation is necessary to establish the role of the media during the dictatorship, and said both "La Nación" and "Clarín" did not cover crimes committed against opponents during military rule.

A different sort of press freedom violation took place elsewhere in Buenos Aires. Adams Ledesma Valenzuela, a Bolivian social worker and journalist, was killed this week outside his home. Shortly after his body was found by his wife, she was threatened by unidentified individuals, saying: "Your husband is gone. The same thing is going to happen to you if you don't take your children and get out of here."

Ledesma Valenzuela ran Mundo TV Villa, a cable TV service for Bolivian, Paraguayan and Peruvian immigrant workers. He was also a correspondent for the free daily "Mundo Villa", which focuses on cultural and social issues. A colleague said the creation of these media had helped improve conditions for immigrant workers in shantytowns.

 
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