Press advocate cites declines in freedom

The increase in direct and indirect censorship and physical attacks on journalists have caused deterioration in freedom of the press and of expression in he Western Hemisphere, the  Inter American Press Association told a U.S. congressional subcommittee

The House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere WEdnesday held a public hearing titled “Threats to Press Freedom in the Americas” in which Claudio Paolillo, chairman of the press association’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, presented an oral report.

Paolillo, editor of the Montevideo, Uruguay, weekly Búsqueda, spoke of the erosion of fundamental rights noted in several countries of the Americas where their government leaders, elected democratically, are behaving like legal dictators who resort to various methods within their reach to destroy all opposition and critical media.

The press association also sent a detailed report with recommendations to the subcommittee centered on Argentina, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Venezuela, countries where freedom of expression and of the press continue to be reduced.

Among the recommendations was a request to the United States government to urge its counterparts in the Americas to adjust to the principles of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, which establishes that freedom of expression and of the press and the people’s right to information are essential for democratic life and the common good.

The Inter American Press Association also reiterated to the U.S. government that in the diplomatic talks with its Cuban counterpart it should give relevance to the issues of free speech and press freedom, there being included the request for the release from prison of independent journalists José Antonio Torres, Ángel Santiesteban and Yoennis de Jesús Guerra.

During the special hearing on the principle violations of press freedom in the Americas also speaking were Carlos Ponce of Freedom House, Carlos Lauría of the Committee for the Protection of Journalists, Nicolás Pérez Lapentti of Ecuador’s El Universo and Alfredo Corchado of The Dallas Morning News.

The Inter American Press Association delegation that traveled to Washington, D.C., also comprised the organization’s executive director, Ricardo Trotti.

The Inter American Press Association is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press and of expression in the Americas. It is made up of more than 1,300 print and online publications from throughout the Western Hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida.

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