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Blog   |   Argentina

Inter-American court ruling seen as a serious setback

For more than a decade, courts and legislatures throughout Latin America have found that civil remedies provide adequate redress in cases of libel and slander. Over this period, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights -- an autonomous judicial institution, which is part of the human rights protection system of the Organization of American States (OAS) -- has issued key decisions supporting press freedom, including a 2004 landmark ruling that struck down a criminal defamation conviction of a Costa Rican journalist.

Blog   |   Argentina

In battle with Argentine president, a misstep by Clarín

A newspaper stand displays Argentina's largest newspaper, Clarín. President Kirchner's government has given Clarín a December 7 deadline to sell off some of its holdings. (AP/Victor R. Caivano)

The debut of the HD version of Grupo Clarín's cable news station TN could not have come at a worse time for the Argentine media conglomerate. Conspicuously missing from Monday's premiere was coverage of a new criminal complaint in which Clarín's lawyers accused the government of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of inciting violence against the media group. In what the company now acknowledges was a misstep, the complaint named six pro-government journalists. 

Blog   |   Argentina

Cabezas' convicted killers are free, 15 years after murder

Photojournalists raise photos of José Luis Cabezas as thousands gathered in Buenos Aires on Tuesday, February 25, 1997, to protest Cabezas' murder the previous month. (AP/Daniel Muzio)

It was a cold winter morning more than 15 years ago. As part of my daily routine as a foreign correspondent, I opened my laptop to read the Argentine papers. I was shocked by a headline: my colleague José Luis Cabezas, a photographer for the newsweekly magazine Noticias, had been murdered. His bullet-ridden body was found on January 25, 1997, inside a burned car, handcuffed and charred, on the outskirts of the beach resort of Pinamar.

January 31, 2012 4:12 PM ET

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Blog   |   Argentina

Both sides cry 'press freedom!' in Argentine newsprint battle

Newsprint manufacturer Papel Prensa is the recent focus of an ongoing battle between two dailies and Argentina's government. (AP/Natacha Pisarenko)

Argentine Secretary of Commerce Guillermo Moreno made headlines in August 2010 when, at a meeting with the directors of newsprint manufacturer Papel Prensa, he whipped out a pair of boxing gloves, told the women present to clear out of the way, and after dimming the lights, challenged the men to a fight. Moreno's invitation to spar, though presumably in jest, set the stage for last month's legislative debate on Papel Prensa's future, which though lacking for props was no less combative.

January 5, 2012 1:11 PM ET

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Blog   |   Argentina

Fighting abusive litigation against journalists

CPJ and others who defend the rights of journalists are rightly alarmed when public officials and other powerful figures instigate baseless criminal prosecutions that can send journalists to prison and force them to pay heavy fines. A case pending in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Fontevecchia & D'Amico vs. Argentina, shows how abusive civil litigation can be just as bad for journalists as criminal prosecution. CPJ filed an amicus curiae brief in the case. A favorable decision by the court would be a step toward ending the use of meritless civil lawsuits to intimidate and harass the press.

Blog   |   Argentina, Venezuela

Hugo Chávez, free expression prize winner

Venezuela's Hugo Chavez holds up a free expression prize from Argentina's University of La Plata in La Plata. (AP/Jorge Araujo)

Just as the awardee himself anticipated (in his subconscious, after all, he is no idiot), this "freedom of expression award" stirred up disapproval and indignation across the board. Notwithstanding, no one should question the decision of Argentina's University of La Plata. If anyone has freedom of expression in Venezuela, it's the prize-winner: He talks and talks without limits, his discourse immune to any attempts to be reined in. 

April 1, 2011 3:18 PM ET

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Blog   |   Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Internet, Mexico, Venezuela

Online freedom of expression in Latin America

On his blog, El Oso, David Sasaki has just finished up the third and last part in his series, "Internet Censorship and Freedom of Expression in Latin America." It's a brilliant overview of current political and social pressures on free speech and online reporting in the region.

Some key observations:

  • Direct governmental censorship in Latin America remains largely non-existent. Even occasional "murky," anecdotal evidence is mostly confined to Cuba and perhaps Venezuela. Sasaki does a great job of collating what's been rumored so far. The OpenNet Initiative has said it will shortly publish updated research.

  • Litigation over content is the most widespread threat to free expression online across the region. As CPJ has reported for many years, criminal defamation laws and overbroad judicial decisions affect independent journalism in many Latin American countries. The large numbers of ongoing cases against individual Net users and their hosting services show that this risk has not diminished online.

  • Brazil and Chile are leading the way in attempts to create Internet-era regulation, with broad participation. Other countries could learn a lot from watching how this new body of law develops, despite occasional missteps (or perhaps because of them).

The above will not surprise close watchers of the Latin American Internet, and it certainly fits with CPJ's own observations there. The real meat of this article, though, lies in the examples. From decades old videos of famous censored Argentine satire to a brief glimpse of the world of Mexican botnets (a collection of hijacked computers used remotely by criminals), it's a compelling and informative read. Check out part one, an overview of the idea of Internet regulation; part two, a survey of intermediary liability cases in the region; and part three, which offers a closer look at direct Net censorship in Latin America, as well as brief glances at Net neutrality, privacy and cybercrime.

November 2, 2010 3:12 PM ET

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Blog   |   Afghanistan, Angola, Argentina, Belarus, Iraq, Pakistan

Murder, 'suicide,' crossfire: A week of journalist killings

Today we will report another murder of a journalist. This one was in Argentina. The last one we documented was a couple days ago--Alberto Graves Chakussanga was shot in the back in Angola. These tragedies are part of our daily work at CPJ, but this week was different. There have been eight killings of journalists around the globe since September 3, an unusually high number during my three years as an editor here.
September 10, 2010 12:56 PM ET

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Blog   |   Argentina, Internet

NYT: In Argentina, Google and Yahoo Not Liable

The New York Times reports on a new decision in the liability of internet intermediaries, this time in Argentia. It's often hard to pick apart exactly what's been going on in jurisdictions where this issue still evolving. Generally, you get a flurry of conflicting court decision in favour of absolute liability for Net middle-men, usually followed by a re-appraisal by calmer minds once the ramifications of having all the major web services effectively guilty for anything anyone ever said, anywhere online, begin to sink in.

In Argentina, the pattern seems to be that search engines were being sued by hundreds of litigants for the content and context of their results. In this particular case images (or the name) of an entertainer were being used by adult sites; she sued Yahoo and Google for defamation, and a lower court decided in her favor. Over at Ars Technica, commenter Pablius gives a link to the earlier decision (in Spanish; Google translation here).

Sure enough, the lower court declared that because search engines can filter specific content, then they are liable in all cases where they do not create such filters pre-emptively. The new decision overturns that. It may yet go to Argentina's Supreme Court.

The biggest risk in these times of flux isn't that these big corporations will be sued into oblivion; it's that the issue of liability continues to remain ambiguous. Panicky companies try to avoid being sued by over-censoring or filtering content, which chills the ability of individual bloggers and journalists to use the Net for unfiltered free speech.

August 28, 2010 3:35 AM ET

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Blog   |   Argentina

Argentine government feud with Clarín deepens

Clarín, seen here, is locked in a media war with Argentina's president. (AP)
A grave accusation by the administration of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner against Argentina's two leading newspapers, Clarín and La Nación, has prompted claims that the government is attempting to control the press, and stirred up a heated debate on the state of freedom of expression in the country. The administration is alleging that the papers colluded with a military regime more than three decades ago to force the sale of a newsprint supplier.

On Tuesday, Kirchner presented the findings of a government report titled "Papel Prensa: The Truth," a 400-page investigation on the history and economic activities of the newsprint manufacturer, according to local and international news reports. 
August 27, 2010 1:31 PM ET

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