FreedomHouse’s report PRESS FREEDOM IN 2010: SIGNS OF CHANGE AMID REPRESSION
Americas: In the Americas, 17 countries (49 percent) were rated Free, 14 (40 percent) were rated Partly Free, and 4 (11 percent) were rated Not Free for 2010. The region’s population is almost evenly split between those living in Free (41 percent) and Partly Free (42 percent) media environments, with the remaining 17 percent living in Not Free countries. These figures are significantly influenced by the open media environments of the Caribbean, which tend to offset the less rosy picture in Central and South America. There were two negative status changes, with Honduras and Mexico joining the ranks of Not Free countries, as well as a number of significant numerical declines. Not since 2006 have so many countries in the region been designated Not Free. The regional average score worsened compared with 2009, with the bulk of the decline occurring in the political and economic categories.
Press freedom conditions remain extremely restricted in Cuba, which has one of the most repressive media environments worldwide, and Venezuela, where the government of President Hugo Chávez continued its efforts to control the press. Further pressures were placed on independent V enezuelan broadcast outlets during the year, including the revocation of licenses, and the head of a major television station, Globovisión, fled into exile.
Ongoing deterioration in Mexico and Honduras tipped both countries into the Not Free range in 2010. Mexico’s score worsened from 60 to 62 due to the country’s escalating drug wars, which have taken their toll on journalists. Violence and intimidation by criminal groups have steadily increased in a climate of impunity, leading to heightened self-censorship by the profession as a whole as well as the murders of more than 60 journalists over the past 10 years. During 2010, the nature of drug gangs’ control over the news agenda expanded from prohibitory censorship to concerted attempts to place propaganda or press releases in selected media outlets. This was typically achieved through a combination of threats and bribery. In Honduras, political conditions stabilized somewhat in 2010 following a coup in 2009, and some legal and constitutional protections for press freedom that had been suspended the previous year were reinstated. However, journalists’ ability to work safely was severely compromised by a sharp rise in harassment and attacks in early 2010, including the killing of six journalists in March alone. The aggression and intimidation came from both sides of the political divide. This increase in violence, coupled with a climate of impunity in which journalists’ deaths were not investigated thoroughly or in a timely manner, pushed Honduras’s score from 59 to 61, placing it just inside the Not Free bracket.
Following a series of declines in recent years, Ecuador and Bolivia experienced significant downgrades in 2010. Ecuador’s score fell five points, from 47 to 52, to reflect an increasingly polarized media environment and a rise in negative rhetoric and actions against news outlets by the administration of President Rafael Correa. Pressures on the media included a growing number of criminal defamation suits, raids and shutdowns of broadcast outlets, government advertising boycotts, and official attempts to influence the news agenda through the establishment of state-owned or controlled outlets. Meanwhile, Bolivia’s score moved from 43 to 46 due to the approval of several new laws that allow the government to impose fines, withdraw operating licenses, and imprison journalists under loosely defined criteria. The legislation led to an increase in self-censorship by journalists. More modest declines were registered in Argentina as a result of continued tensions between the government and oppositionist news outlets. Journalists faced increased attacks and harassment, and there were officially sanctioned attempts to restrict the production and the distribution of newspapers, particularly those associated with the Clarín media group.
The only significant positive numerical movement in the Americas for 2010 took place in Colombia, whose score improved from 60 to 56 due to progress in ending impunity for past attacks on journalists. Charges were filed in a number of cold cases, and previously closed investigations were reopened.
Related to the above article, Special Report: The 10 Tools of Online Oppressors
Excellent report on how Argentina Firing of Inflation Expert Signaled Start of Dubious Price Data after 2007.
U.S. Embassy Travel Alert
Moody’s Warns Puerto Rico Of $28B Rating Cuts
In addition to assessing recent proposals by Gov. Luis G. Fortuno for addressing the island’s underfunding of its retirement system, Moody’s said it also will look at his proposed budget to determine if it moves the island closer to structural balance and if it believes revenue and expense forecasts are reasonable.
Is Hugo Chavez an idiot?
The week’s posts,
What we can learn from Chile
The Middle East-Latin America Terrorism Connection
Hezbollah setting up camp in Mexico
The growing Chilean economy
NY City cabs to be built in Mexico
Peru: Ollanta Humala’s new PR face