World Press Freedom Day took place on 3rd May this year, celebrated in cities around the world. Sponsored by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Science, and Cultural Organisation), the event’s purpose is to examine the promise and challenges facing media of various forms, as well as inform citizens on violations of press freedom that continue to this day.
In Latin American countries, the press has made many important strides, often through some of the most difficult present day conflicts. In cases such as Mexico and Honduras, however, reporters are frequently intimidated and targeted for violence by members of organised crime. In other countries, such as Venezuela and, to a debatable extent, Ecuador, hostile relationships between the government and certain parts of the press have produced censorship.
In order to find out what residents of Buenos Aires think about the current state of press freedom in Argentina and throughout Latin America, we took to the streets and asked for some opinions.
Photos by Kamilo Hernández
Jorge Alberto Vajanella, 62, Caballito, Public Accountant
Here in Argentina, freedom in the press is very broad. No matter who or where you are, you can say what you want. In the newspaper, on television, on the radio, on the streets, wherever. In Mexico, of course, there is a profoundly serious problem, and in Venezuela the government has considerable control over media and communications. I think the press faces repression in Chile as well, partly because of the right-leaning government. In general, I think the press in Latin America is becoming freer every day, and young people have the resources to continue this trend in the future.
Christian Savloff, 25, Caballito, Works in Film Post-production
I think it’s important to highlight that the press has commercial interests beyond informing us, like Clarín’s role here in Argentina, as well as La Nación. While the point is to truly inform us, in many cases there is a lot of subjectivity, so the reporting is not objective. In places like Venezuela, the government can be very fanatical and tilt the press in favour of Hugo Chávez. To me, respect for the media is very important. I think that if you educate people with various points of view, they will listen and decide.
Sara Martínez, 25, Palermo, Works in Fashion/Design
For me, I don’t read the newspapers here as much as I see the news on television or listen to it on the radio. There are plenty of channels, with many different programs, and people can choose from a variety of perspectives to interpret what is going on. I think the trend in Venezuela, with radio stations and newspapers censored by the government, doesn’t seem very good to me because it is cutting away freedom in the press.
Angel Benitez, Caballito, 36, Hotels and Tourism
Throughout Latin America, each country’s situation is very different, and the image of the real community we have here gets complicated by propaganda. In Argentina, liberty in the press is very divided. Some think the press is very free, some don’t, and there are also particular situations when it is and it isn’t. Ideologies among citizens and certain outlets will influence how one sees things. I think the background problem uniting all Latin American countries has to do with education. The formation of values, the small details. Partly as a result of fear, partly because of insecurity, the values that truly unite Latin Americans have gotten lost. People are on guard. To me, the fundamental problem is educational, and it’s something that has to change not just in schools, but especially in the family.
Laura Fraguas, 23, Belgrano, Medical Student
I think there is freedom of press in Argentina. I don’t really know the full context of other examples in Latin America, but I think that here, it is free. There exist programs like that of [Jorge] Lanata, or 6-7-8, as well as many that give a full spectrum of political views and information in Argentina. Freedom in the press exists here.