Bolivia Freedom of the press 101: not under current Bolivian ochlocratic regime

Maggy Talavera writes in El Deber:

Uncontrolled by a Remote Control

Maggy TalaveraMust see the reaction it caused in the Government the publication Remote Control, the book in which Raul Penaranda confirms buying media by people close to the leadership of the MAS, operating as parastatal media. That is, act as governmental, but are private and not public.

The purchase was an open secret, although at least one case gives to speak more than one kind of seizure. What is new, at any rate, is the realization that the media line is defined from the Vice Presidency.

This last element, much more than the fact of who is listed as the owner of the media is (until recently a mystery), seems to have riled the government. Therefore, it had no “brighter” idea than to use its communication minister to attack the messenger, in a desperate attempt to avoid the impact of the message.

A shame for the minister, before was a journalist, which from now on will be remembered as a fierce xenophobic because, contrary to the Constitution and the Law Against Racism and Discrimination, accused Penaranda to be Chilean! And regarding of the theme of the book, said nothing.

We could say that it is part of the job, the truth always will be uncomfortable to those in power, which is true.

But what happened to Penaranda goes beyond simple discomfort in government circles. The reaction of the minister is not the result of a personal feeling, but the result of an express manifestation of intolerance to the publication of one or more truths that the government wants to keep hidden, which again become clear authoritarian and undemocratic character of its members. Therefore, they have not shown any scruples and openly used ignoble weapons such as xenophobia and verbal violence, and other forms of veiled pressure, as exerted on the publisher who would print the book and withdrew at the last minute.

That awkward reaction of the Government, far from stopping the publication, has only served to arouse more interest in what Penaranda have decided to investigate. Whether that exhausted the first edition of 500 copies on the same night in which he presented the book in La Paz city (I have no record on my memory of something similar in recent years).

But it has served to check many other things. One of them, the need for information to the citizenry; so, it is able to break the barrier of fear to get it. The other is already amply demonstrated: the government will do everything possible to prevent that from happening. If it succeeds or not will depend, not only of its power, but the public will not allow it.

Not that I believe that the history of press freedom and freedom of expression have a before and after from the book of Penaranda, but I have no doubt that is already making an important milestone in the longstanding struggle to preserve these freedoms, who are so threatened today, as they were in de-facto regimes. Only do not say what happened with Remote Control, but by other equally or more serious events already recorded before, which include the terrorist attacks by journalists and media in the course of their work, and violations suffered by opponents and even activists and former officials of the Government.

They are made to take into account, especially in this election year in which the quality of information is vital to keep the population informed adequately and timely. An increasingly difficult task, considering the increase in these parastatals media as set by Penaranda; but, at the same time, more free if we look especially to non-traditional media, we found valuable space in social networks.

Maggy Talavera is a journalist and director of SemanarioUno.

They are made to take into account, especially in this election year, in which the quality of information is vital.

Published by Bolivian Thoughts

Senior managerial experience on sustainable development projects.

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