Civil Liberties

Press Freedom Deteriorating Throughout the Americas, Says Media Advocacy Group


Gag/Foter CC BY SA

The bad news is that the United States has been slapped again for its government's downward-spiraling respect for freedom of the press. The good news is that our officials' transgressions pale in comparison to the crimes inflicted on free speech and free inquiry throughout the Americas, as compiled by the Inter American Press Association (IAPA).

Basically, free press-wise, the whole hemisphere is sliding.

With regard to the U.S., IAPA points out:

The U.S. government of President Barack Obama is continuing to prohibit officials from talking to the press. In the United States and Canada defeated were legislative reforms aimed at limiting exceptions on the part of these governments to continue restricting public information for reasons always attributed to national security.

Yes, we've heard this before. It doesn't get less depressing in the repeating. But it could be a whole hell of a lot worse. Like in most everyplace else in the Americas. "Freedom of the press and of expression in the hemisphere underwent a marked deterioration in the last six months due to a significant increase in direct and indirect censorship and physical attacks on journalists," notes IAPA.

Cuba, of course, continues to outright imprison independent journalists and dissidents. The Venezuelan government denies foreign exchange to critical media outlets so that they can't purchase supplies, including news print, forcing many out of business. That's when its goons don't just beat the crap out of journalists.

Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Haiti use the law to squash critical press, and Bolivia, which already limits the speech of opposition politicians, is poised to follow suit.

Brazilian officials use the courts to block publication of targeted content.

"Perhaps the most positive news this semester," says IAPA, "has been the enactment of the Law on Access to Public Information and Transparency in Paraguay."

Well, that's nice for Paraguay.

For what it's worth, Freedom House announced this year that "global press freedom has fallen to its lowest level in over a decade." So it's not just our hemisphere that's in the crapper.