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Harassment of journalists: Freedom House downgrades Argentina

By Tony Pagliaro

28.04.06 | Freedom House has now punished Argentina’s Government downgrading the country’s position in its well known “Freedom of Expression Index”. Argentina is ranked 99th in such ranking, with a rating of 45 or "partly free."

According to Christopher Walker, Director of “Freedom House” this has occurred due to three factors: (i) clear abuses and selectivity in the distribution of public advertisement monies; (ii) direct harassment of journalists through psychological means and direct threats; and (iii) the refusal to enact legislation that could allow private access to non-sensitive public information.

Five journalists are singled out as object of direct threats and intimidations by the Kirchner's administration: José Claudio Escribano (the Director of La Nación, who was forced to resign and retire); Malú Kikuchi, the anchorwoman in a TV cable program: “La Caja de Pandora” (The Pandora Box) whose private residence was raided by armed officers without any Court order; Mariano Saravia, the Director of La Voz del Interior, the leading newspaper in Córdoba, Argentina´s second largest city; Pepe Eliachev, who after five years at Radio Nacional was fired when he started airing his differences with the Kirchner’s authoritarian attitudes; and Jorge Fontevecchia, the Director of the weekly “Noticias”.

Said list could be enlarged with other well known journalists that have personally been attacked by the Kirchners, such as: Mariano Grondona, Carlos Mira, and Joaquín Morales Solá.

Populism and authoritarianism do not get along at all with freedom of the press, nor with freedom of opinion or expression. The Kirchner’s government is proving that once again. Political and civil freedoms are under attack by the Kirchners, sometimes in the open, frequently in a disguised fashion. Argentina´s democracy is therefore more and more at risk.

In the meantime, Kirchner’s partner in his efforts to control and manipulate public opinion, the media magnate Héctor Magneto, principal owner of Clarin’s media empire, who endorses in blank whatever Kirchner does or proposes, is returning to Chicago, allegedly for a second cancer surgery, a situation that seems to have Mr. Néstor Kirchner very concerned.

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