Latin American Newsletter 2nd Edition

1. Trade Union News/Activities

2. Latin American News

3. Events

4. Contacts



1. TRADE UNION NEWS/ACTIVITIES


COSTA RICAN JOURNALISTS ELECTS A NEW GENERAL SECRETARY

AND PRESIDENT OF GAL-FIP


Sergio Fernández Solano

Graduated at the University of Costa Rica. He worked as a sports correspondent for “La República” and “la Prensa Libre”. He participated in the elaboration of information bulletins for Repretel. Director and Co-owner of the journal “El Guapileño”. President (AMAC).




On Monday, the 28 of July, the new board of directors of the National Trade Union of Journalists of Costa Rica (SNP) was elected. Sergio Fernández was elected as the new General Secretary of the union.


During the first meeting of the board of Directors, held last Friday 8th of August, the SNP decided that Fernández would substitute for Adrián Rojas as the president of the IFJ Latin American Group (GAL-FIP).


The designation of Fernández happens at a very important moment in the history of GAL-FIP that, after its plenary session in Lima, decided to take a transition step towards a new organisational structure, as a federation.


It was also explained at the meeting in Lima that a real need existed in order to reactivate communication between trade unions, a process which would definitely lead to a revitalisation of GAL.



LATIN AMERICA DEMANDS AN INVESTIGATION AFTER THE DEATH OF A DOMINICAN JOURNALIST




<bDaniel Martich" border="0" align="left">



Fifteen organisations in Latin America asked the government and Dominican authorities to lead an investigation into the death of journalist Daniel Martich. According to information these organisations have at their disposal, Martich was assassinated and did not commit suicide as the National Police declared in its preliminary report.


The organisations of journalists sent messages through the Dominican Trade Union of Journalists to the President Hipólito Mejía, to the Public Prosecutor of the Republic, to the National Police chief officer, and to the Major General Jaime Marte Martínez, in order to convince them to investigate the case further.


They appealed to all the press authorities on the continent to pass on their condolences and organise an unprecedented mobilization of all Latin-American representatives of journalism in order to condemn unpunished crime against journalists and defend the right of media workers to do their job in as safe, respectful and worthy environment.


The organisations argue that the circumstances of Daniel Martich’s death would lead one to believe that he was assassinated:


  • The name and place where it happened can be identified

  • The shape of the wound that Martich had on his forehead

  • The fact that the weapon was found on his torso

  • That - according to the police - the gun found was a 3.80 while his family declared that Martich owned a 9 millimetres

  • The conclusions of the report made by one of the doctors who examined the body concluded that no gunpowder was found on his clothes and body.


  • The presence of the bullet in his skull indicated that Matrich was not shot from point-blank range and the hypothesis of a suicide is therefore contradictory. Moreover, he was found deqd near Salinas beach, in las Dunas de Baní, far from his house and, amoung other issues, his car and suitcase were not found immediately.


    It should be recalled that Martich was a journalist who always exposed social situations, which touched interests such as defending the poor as well as reporting on circumstances such as the removal of materials from the rivers and the dunes in Baní, for which an ecologist was killed in San Cristóbal.


    LATIN AMERICAN NEWS:


    THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION ORIGINATES FROM IFEX:

    [THE INTERNATIONAL FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

    EXCHANGE (IFEX) CLEARING HOUSE]

    489 College Street West, Suite 403, Toronto (ON) M6G 1A5 CANADA

    tel: +1 416 515 9622 fax: +1 416 515 7879 alerts e-mail:alerts@ifex.org

    general e-mail: ifex@ifex.org Internet site: IFEX


    Venezuela - Television Station Targeted in Bomb Attack


    On the night of 5 August 2003, an explosive device was lobbed into the parking lot of Televisora Regional del Táchira (TRT) station, in the city of San Cristóbal, Táchira state, southwestern Venezuela. Thus far, the assailant has not been identified.


    The incident occurred at approximately 10:20 p.m. (local time). According to the station's security guards, no one was hurt, nor were there any damages to the station's studios as a result of the explosion.


    Officers of the Táchira Police's Security and Public Order Division were the first to arrive at the scene. According to the security guards, the officers dismissed the incident as "unimportant" and allegedly destroyed some of the evidence by disturbing the scene of the crime. The police left the site before the arrival of the Criminal Investigations Unit (Cuerpo de Investigaciones Científicas, Penales y Criminalísticas, CICPC).


    Representatives of the CICPC and the security police (Dirección de los Servicios de Inteligencia y Prevención, DISIP) visited the station to gather information and have begun investigating the attack.


    The explosive device contained pamphlets signed by a group calling itself the Frente Urbano Bolivariano. According to the CICPC, thus far there is no information on the identity of the man who threw the device and although no hypotheses have been discarded, they believe it is an isolated incident.


    This is the second time TRT has come under attack in the last nine months. On 9 December 2002, a group of individuals burst into the station's studios, destroyed some of its equipment and vandalised the premises. In spite of the government's and security forces' expressed commitment to shed light on the incident, no charges have been laid.


    SOURCE: Institute for Press and Society (IPYS), Lima


    Argentina – Journalist Receives Threatening Phonecalls


    Marcelo Sisso, a journalist for "El Sol de Mendoza" newspaper, has been receiving threatening telephone calls during which unknown individuals pressure him to cease reporting on irregularities in the management of the El Triángulo Housing Cooperative. In a telephone call on the evening of 30 July 2003, a male caller warned Sisso to stop reporting on the topic, saying, "or you know what will happen to you." The following day, Sisso received three more telephone calls with a similar message, including one in which the caller said, "don't be stupid, drop the El Triángulo subject."


    According to information provided to PFC by Sisso, in 1998, El Triángulo Limited began to construct a housing development in Guaymallén department, Mendoza province, with a loan provided by the Provincial Housing Institute. Although the loan was increased in 2001, the construction work was halted in May of that year. To date, 70% of the funds have been spent while only 39% of the work has been completed, and there are structural defects in the houses. Due to the irregularities, the cooperative's members asked the Cooperatives Directorate to intervene. The directorate conducted an audit, which established that there were financial problems and mismanagement within the housing cooperative, in addition to a lack of financial reporting and large debts to suppliers. The chair of the Cooperatives Directorate, Roberto Mandarino, filed a criminal complaint against the El Triángulo board of directors for alleged misappropriation of funds.


    In a letter to Mendoza Justice and Security Minister Leopoldo Manuel Orquín, PFC requested that he provide protection for Sisso and conduct an investigation to identify those responsible for the threats.


    "Threats against journalists are made in an attempt to stop them from exposing irregularities, such as those which took place in the El Triángulo Housing Cooperative. In particular, the aim is to impede the public from becoming aware of these problems", PFC said in its letter. PFC considers the threatening phone calls to Sisso to be "an attack against free expression."


    SOURCE: Journalists Against Corruption (PFC)


    Guatemala - APG Condemns Attacks Against Journalists


    Guatemalan journalists have been the targets of a series of attacks, ranging from death threats to harassment by National Civil Police (Policía Nacional Civil, PNC) officers.


    The presence of the ruling Frente Republicano Guatemalteco (FRG) party is being felt in rural areas, but not to the benefit of society. FRG supporters and security forces have harassed journalists, thus violating freedom of expression and press freedom and restricting the public's right to access information.


    The APG Press Freedom Committee condemns the following attacks on journalists:


    ZACAPA: Journalist Juan Carlos Aquino, host of the news programme "Punto Informativo!", broadcast daily on Radio Novedad station, in the capital of Zacapa department, and a correspondent for Radio Punto, has received threatening telephone calls.

    Aquino reported that a number of FRG supporters from Zacapa were recently transported to Guatemala City in government vehicles to participate in demonstrations.


    Although the auxiliary human rights prosecutor has taken action on behalf of Aquino, the journalist continues to receive threats. He was warned that someone is "keeping an eye on him" and he has asked the PNC to accompany him when he leaves the radio station.


    IZABAL: According to journalist Edwin Perdomo, a male caller faking an indigenous person's accent warned him that if he continued to report on the reprehensible results of the FRG's actions, he would suffer the same fate as journalist Mynor Alegría. Alegría was assassinated in 2001.


    Perdomo works for the news programme "Punto Informativo Departamental", broadcast daily on Radio Porteña station. He is also a correspondent for Prensa Libre newspaper and the news programme Noticiero Punto Informativo, broadcast on the Radio Punto network.


    SAN MARCOS: San Marcos journalists allege that in recent days they have been harassed by PNC officers who have been questioning them about the work they do and asking for their personal information, their home addresses and the addresses of their employers.


    SUCHITEPEQUEZ: Journalists from a number of media outlets in Mazatenango, Suchitepéquez department, have filed a complaint with the Auxiliary Human Rights Prosecutor's Office. PNC officers have been harassing the journalists and asking them for personal information, including their home and work addresses. The police have reportedly been following orders from Interior Minister Adolfo Reyes Calderón, who has said that the request for the journalists' personal information was made by the Human Rights Prosecutor's Office.


    Assistant Prosecutor Maria Eugenia Morales de Sierra denied that this was the case. She advised the journalists to not provide any information to the police and to file complaints denouncing the harassment.


    RETALHULEU: Journalists in Retalhuleu department suffered intimidation prior to a visit by General Efraín Ríos Montt to the region.


    CHIMALTENANGO: Chimaltenango journalists informed the special prosecutor for crimes against journalists that they have come under attack in incidents made to appear like common crimes.


    GUATEMALA CITY: Haroldo Sánchez, director of the news programme Noticiero Televisivo Guatevisión, reported having received death threats via telephone calls and e-mail messages from FRG supporters. In addition, some of the station's reporters and camera operators have been verbally attacked.


    All these incidents have occurred after the violence provoked by the FRG protests in the capital. More than 20 reporters, media directors and correspondents have been attacked or received death threats from the governing party's supporters.


    SOURCE: Press Freedom Committee of Guatemalan Journalists (APG), City of Guatemala



    Cuba: Wife of Jailed Journalist Raúl Rivero Condemns Prison Conditions - Eight Journalists Reportedly Ill


    Imprisoned Cuban journalist and poet Raúl Rivero has lost nearly 20 kg (40 pounds) since he was jailed in March 2003, according to his wife Blanca Reyes, who fears he is being starved in jail in Ciego de Avila. Rivero is serving a 20-year sentence for allegedly "undermining the independence and integrity of the state."


    Reyes told RSF on 4 August that she had spoken to Rivero by phone on 31 July and that it was clear he was suffering, even though he did not complain. He is deliberately being held in harsh conditions and only allowed one visit every three months, instead of every month. She also said "conjugal" visits are restricted.


    "I can only bring him extra food once every three months," Reyes said. "Canned food is forbidden, so he has to eat biscuits and has no protein in his diet. I won't be able to see him again until 21 August." She added that Rivero has circulatory problems and that the authorities were providing him with the medication she brings for him.


    "His detention conditions are inhuman and unacceptable," Reyes said. "He suffers from the heat and the cells are filthy and infested with cockroaches and mosquitoes. Even Fidel Castro, when he was jailed for armed rebellion against dictator Fulgencio Batista, didn't have to suffer such conditions. Raúl is innocent. I am in despair."


    While continuing to call for Rivero's release, Reyes urged the authorities to put an end to her husband's harsh detention regime and provide him with a nutritious and balanced diet. She said Rivero's 82-year-old mother, Hortensia Castañeda, was very affected by his imprisonment. "I hold the government responsible for her state of health," she warned.


    Rivero is in Canaleta prison in Ciego de Avila, 420 km east of Havana. He was arrested on 20 March and in April sentenced to 20 years in prison. He was accused of writing "biased" articles in the foreign press, meeting with United States (U.S.) diplomats and working with RSF, which was described as a "French terrorist organisation manipulated by the U.S. government."


    Rivero, who was awarded the RSF-Fondation de France prize in 1997, is also a member of the Manuel Márquez Sterling Journalists' Association, which is part of the RSF Network that includes press freedom organisations around the world.


    At least seven other independent journalists arrested at the end of March are reportedly ill. Journalist Oscar Espinosa Chepe is suffering from cirrhosis of the liver and has been transferred to a hospital in Santiago de Cuba as a result of strong international pressure. His wife, Miriam Leiva, says the hospital is not clean and has asked for his transfer to a hospital in Havana. Espinosa fears he will contract new illnesses in the Santiago hospital and has refused to undergo medical tests. His wife says he has lost about 20 kg and his health is jeopardised.


    The six other journalists who are reportedly ill are Víctor Rolando Arroyo Carmona, Carmelo Díaz Fernández, Hector Maseda Gutiérrez, Jorge Olivera Castillo, Miguel Galván Gutierrez and Normándo Hernández. Several of them have reportedly not received the medical treatment they need and have also lost weight.


    A total of 75 dissidents were arrested at the end of March, including 26 independent journalists. They were tried in early April and sentenced to between 14 and 27 years in prison, mostly under laws to protect the state's "independence and integrity". They were accused of publishing articles abroad that allegedly served the "imperialist interests" of the United States and having contacts with the U.S. Interests Section (U.S. diplomatic representation in Havana). Tape-recorders, computers, fax machines and written material seized at their homes were presented as evidence at their hasty trials.


    Article 53 of the Cuban Constitution bans privately-owned media. Apart from the small Catholic Church press, all media is controlled by the ruling Cuban Communist Party.


    More than 13 years ago, RSF set up a system whereby international media can "sponsor" imprisoned journalists. Some 120 media outlets around the world have responded by adopting colleagues, regularly calling for their release and publicising their plight so that they are not forgotten. Rivero is sponsored by the French daily newspapers "Ouest France", "Le Figaro", "Metro" and "La Tribune", as well as the TV5 television station and the France Culture radio station.

    SOURCE: Reporters sans frontières (RSF), Paris



    EVENTS:

    The Konrad Adenauer Foundation, through its programme, “Media and Democracy”, is developing a case study about “Journalism and Access to Information”, with respect to Argentina, México, Perú and Uruguay. Amoung the goals of the study will be to identify the obstacles, which are faced by the media in gaining access to public information, along with suggestions and recommendations for overcoming them.


    For further details please contact:

    Dolores Lavalle Cobo, Project Coordinator.

    Email: doloreslavalle@fibertel.com.ar

    SOURCE: Instituto Prensa y Sociedad – IPYS, Sucre 317, Barranco, Lima 4, Perú,

    Tel : 511 247-3308 Fax : 511 247-3194


    NEWSLETTER CONTACTS:

    Mr. Stecy Yghemonos - Email: stecy.yghemonos@ifj.org

    Mr. Robert Shaw - Email: robert.shaw@ifj.org