February 10, 2013
The Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) yesterday rejected in a strong statement the decision by the government of Cristina Kirchner to prohibit private advertisers to publish publicity in the press: it finds it to be an attack on freedom of expression, which seeks “the economic suffocation of the independent media.”
“The creativity of the regime led by President Cristina Kirchner in attacking all forms of possible free journalism seems unlimited and, unfortunately, unstoppable,” said Claudio Paolillo, president of the Commission on the Freedom of the Press and Information of the IAPA.
Paolillo, director of the Uruguayan weekly Búsqueda, said that the governments of Nestor and Cristina Kirchner “have spent ten years perfecting their mechanisms of harassment against the unaddicted press, inventing laws, decrees, resolutions and de facto actions in a systematic escalation against freedom of expression.”
The criticized measure is the order given by Commerce Secretary Guillermo Moreno to the large supermarket chains that they cancel their sales ads in newspapers and on TV channels in the metropolitan area, at a time when he has set price freezes for two months.
Those ads constitute one of the main avenues for financing of the independent press. In yesterday’s newspapers, it began to be notable that there was a lack of the usual traditional sales ads from the leading supermarkets in Buenos Aires newspapers.
The decision has been criticized by the Association of Argentina Journalistic Entities (ADEPA), the Association of Newspaper Editors in the City of Buenos Aires (AEDBA) and the Business Commission of Independent Media (CEMCI), in addition to leaders of opposition parties. Also, there were wide repercussions on the media in the region, from the United States and Spain.
IAPA, which is based in Miami and is made up of more than 1,300 publications in the Americas, added its voice to the complaint yesterday.
The text of the statement in which Paolilli speaks described other attitudes of the government considered limiting to freedom of expression. “First it was the public “slam” of the media and journalists that dare to disagree with the leader; then they went to the corrupt use of state money to reward “friends” and punish “enemies”, the “popular trials” against journalists from the Executive Branch, the persecution of the media and reporters by tax authorities and intelligence services, the mounting of the enormous government propaganda apparatus financed by the state through the careless use of the public media and the coopting of friendly private businessmen to transmit the official “narrative” and the approval of a law that, with the laudable finality of widening the spectrum of voices, ended up being an instrument to destroy a media group that doesn’t accept being a mere echo chamber of the government’s discourse.”
It was also said that the “novel measure of prohibiting private advertisers from publishing ads in the press goes along the same line as all that came before and is congruent with the final goal of Kirchnerism; this is that at the end of the road, the Argentine people hear only one voice – the government’s.”
Paolillo said that the government’s new decision is a “frontal blow” against the principles of the Chapultepec Declaration, according to which “pressure” and “intimidation” are “severely stifling to freedom of expression and the press.”
Also, says the Declaration, “pre-empting censorship, restrictions on the circulation of the media or the distribution of its messages” and “the creation of obstacles to the free flow of information” is “directly opposed to freedom of the press.”
IAPA highlighted that “prohibition decisively affects all the newspapers and television broadcasters of the Capital, including official media.” But it predicted that these “maintain an abundant advertising budget from the state while the critical or independent media do not receive official ads as punishment for maintaining their editorial independence.”