Argentina: Censorship through court decree

Argentina Moves to Seize Newsprint Firm (emphasis added)

Argentina’s government intensified a campaign to wrest control of the country’s largest newsprint-paper provider on Tuesday, a move top local newspapers called a brazen attack on press freedom.

President Cristina Kirchner said her government will turn to the courts in an effort to manage Papel Prensa SA and investigate human-rights violations, arguing the sale of the company to a group of Argentine newspapers in the mid-1970s was coerced by the then-military dictatorship. Ms. Kirchner said she will also ask Congress to declare the company a “national interest” to guarantee all media access to paper at the same price. In addition, Ms. Kirchner called for a Congressional committee to oversee Papel Prensa and take seats on the company’s board.

“Whoever controls Papel Prensa, controls the printed word,” Ms. Kirchner said, accusing the papers of maintaining a vertical monopoly.

Media companies, however, say the moves are the latest in a growing offensive by Ms. Kirchner to gag the media. Last week, the government revoked the Internet service license for Grupo Clarin SA, the country’s largest media group.

Cristina is following Hugo Chavez’s Marxist rulebook

The moves are similar to actions by populist governments elsewhere in the region, including Ecuador, Bolivia and Venezuela, which have passed laws that critics say are aimed at muffling an independent media.

In Venezuela, it is illegal to publish news accounts that might be deemed to “denigrate” President Hugo Chávez. While independent newspapers still operate there, Mr. Chávez has effectively silenced or closed nearly all major independent television stations.

Clarin has a video (in Spanish) addressing the accusations: the newspapers editors point out that the move is in anticipation of the next elections so the Kirchners will have no media opposition. Their front page articles are covering the story in detail.

The Guardian and Bloomberg have more.

One question, if the transactions were illegal, why did the Kirchners wait all this time to do something about it?

It’s all about censorship.


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