Caracas Discussion Meeting Statement, Federation of Latin American and Caribbean Journalists, FEPALC

Union members from the Federation of Latin American and Caribbean Journalists (FEPALC) gathered for the Regional Assembly on November 1st in the city of Caracas, Venezuela, jointly express deep concern over the escalating number of media workers murdered in our region and the strong impunity that overshadows most of these cases.

According to the follow up of the cases carried out by FEPALC Human Rights Secretary and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) in 2005 fourteen media workers lost their lives and two disappeared. However, from January to October 2006 both institutions have documented and denounced thirty two (32) journalists murdered and two (2) colleagues are missing, murders cases in Guyana (6), Mexico (5), Venezuela (4), Colombia (4), Dominican Republic (3) and Brazil (3) have been highlighted. The increase of aggressions is evident and alarming.

The analysis of the attacks against the life of media workers reveals in most cases of journalists killed there is a link to their professional activity behind the murders and the attackers belong to organized delinquency, specifically to drug trafficking and also to diverse political actors.

We are in the same manner concerned about the governments’ incapacity and political unwillingness to guarantee the right to life and the right to carry out the journalistic duty proven by the fact that most crimes remain in impunity, have not been clarified and intellectual and material authors of the crimes are unpunished.

Due to this context and accordingly with the global campaign initiated by the IFJ, the main principles of human rights and in our colleagues’ defense, we consider it is urgent and necessary the Federation make vehement demands to the governments of Latin American countries where most murders have occurred to guarantee the right to life and adequate conditions for journalists to carry out their work.

We call on the Executive Committee to strengthen the global campaign to sensibilize governments and society about the recent dangers journalists face in the development of their work.

The IFJ plans a program to obligate governments to respect journalists’ human rights and respond to their right to guarantee journalists may carry out their work.

We ask the International News Safety Institute (INSI) to intensify its objective regarding training in Latin America that aims at providing colleagues practical tools to develop their work in risk zones.

We consider it necessary to highlight the restrictions to press freedom, freedom of expression and the citizens right to be informed also affect the profession. Death threats, aggressions, censorship, self censorship, lack of collective negotiations and professional training, deregulation and in general, all anti union practices have an effect.

Finally, FEPALC calls all members to join a consistent solidarity effort to face these threats and aggressions.

Caracas, Venezuela, November 1 2006

Argentine Federation of Press Workers (FATPREN)

National Federation of Journalists (FENAJ-Brazil)

National Union of Journalists of Costa Rica (SNP )

IFJ Center of Solidarity (CESOFIP-Colombia)

National Federation of Workers of Social Media of Chile (FENATRAMCO)

Union of Workers in Press, Printing and Similar Trades (SITINPRES)

National Union of Journalists of Mexico (SNRP)

Union of Journalists of Paraguay ( SPP )

National Association of Journalists of Peru (ANP)

National Union of Press Workers of Dominican Republic ( SNTP )

Press Association of Paraguay ( APU )

National Union of Press Workers of Venezuela ( SNTP )