Press Freedom in the Americas (Part. 3)

The World Press Freedom Index for the Americas in 2013 is a tale of contrasts. It paints a picture of both progress and continued challenges in the media landscape across the region. While some nations have witnessed improvements, many still face violence, polarization, and legal hindrances that obstruct the free flow of information.

Emerging from Protest Movements

The rankings for various countries in the Americas have been significantly influenced by the presence or absence of protest movements. In 2012, as some of these protests subsided, we saw corresponding changes in the rankings.

Chile (60th, +20): Following the abatement of student protests in 2012, Chile experienced a rise in the rankings. However, it’s essential to place this improvement in perspective. Challenges remain, such as a skewed media landscape and obstacles for journalists investigating the 1973-90 military dictatorship.

United States (32nd, +15): In a recovery more fitting for the “country of the First Amendment,” the United States saw a 15-place rise in the rankings. This was in response to the decline in protests related to the Occupy Wall Street movement that affected reporters in the field.

Canada (20th, -10): Canada fell ten positions to 20th, losing its standing as the western hemisphere’s press freedom leader to Jamaica (13th). This decline was due to journalists’ obstruction during the “Maple Spring” student movement and concerns about journalists’ source confidentiality and Internet users’ personal data, notably from the C-30 bill on cybercrime.

Press Freedom Challenges in South America

One of the most notable trends can be observed in South America, where several countries face complex issues affecting press freedom.

Brazil (108th, -9): Brazil’s ranking dropped nine places in 2013. The nation’s media landscape is deeply distorted, with regional media heavily dependent on political authorities. Attacks, physical violence, court censorship orders, and concerns in the blogosphere all contribute to these issues. Violence escalated during the October 2012 municipal elections, further impacting Brazil’s press freedom.

Paraguay (91st, -11): Paraguay’s ranking fell 11 places due to the “institutional coup d’état” that led to President Fernando Lugo’s removal in June 2012. The impact was swift, with a purge of state-owned media employees and frequent censorship of programs. Even community radio stations feared losing their frequencies.

Peru (105th, +10): Despite a high level of physical violence against journalists, Peru rose ten places, topping Brazil but still falling behind Bolivia (109th). The country experienced violent attacks on several media outlets and increasing polarization at both the national and local levels.

Ecuador (119th, -15): Extreme tension between the government and major privately-owned media outlets led to Ecuador’s 15-place drop. The strained relationship left Ecuador two places below Venezuela, where several media organizations were arbitrarily closed, a journalist was killed, and a “media war” climate was reported.

Argentina (54th): Growing tension between the government and specific privately-owned media, especially the Clarín group, contributed to Argentina’s slight drop in the rankings. The government’s resistance to full implementation of the 2009 Ley de Medios (Media Law) also played a role.

Uruguay (27th): On a more positive note, Uruguay continued its ascent to 27th place. The country is within ten places of Costa Rica, which remains Latin America’s press freedom leader at 18th.

Central America’s Press Freedom Landscape

In Central America, marked contrasts persisted, reflecting a range of challenges.

Nicaragua (78th): A lack of pluralism, intermittent tensions with political authorities, harassment, and self-censorship continued to be major concerns in Nicaragua.

Guatemala (95th): Guatemala also faced similar issues, with obstacles to press freedom stemming from government actions and a lack of pluralism.

Panama (111th): Panama experienced a significant increase in attacks on journalists within a year, raising concerns over press freedom.

El Salvador (38th): El Salvador stood out as an exception, ranking 38th due to government efforts in combating violent crime. Journalists and media outlets have raised concerns about access to state-held information, but the nation’s efforts against crime were notable.

Dominican Republic (80th): The Dominican Republic rose 15 places, showing improvement in violence against journalists and legal proceedings that threaten press freedom. Challenges persist, but progress is evident.

Challenges in the Caribbean

In the Guyanas and the Caribbean, political tension and judicial harassment played a significant role in the rankings.

Trinidad and Tobago (44th): The country’s illegal monitoring of journalists’ phone calls and attempts to identify sources remained a challenge, despite promises to stop in 2010.

Surinam (31st, -9): Relations between President Desi Bouterse and journalists continued to be stormy, especially after the passage of an amnesty law for government opponents’ murders.

Press Freedom Across Borders: A Tale of Contrasts (Part 4)

The global landscape of press freedom is a complex tapestry, woven with threads of progress and regression. In the annual World Press Freedom Index for 2013, the status of media freedom outside the European Union (EU) raises significant concerns, with instances of decline in several regions. In this blog post, we take a closer look at the state of press freedom in various parts of the world.

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