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Latin America Blog

Press freedom falls in Latin America, French journalist missing in Colombia

Freedom of the press is under threat in much of the Americas, according to a Freedom House report.

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Venezuela and Cuba remained at the bottom half of the list (and in the case of Cuba at rock bottom, as it is considered one of the “eight worst” in the world, along with Belarus, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan). 

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And these two countries, along with Mexico and Honduras, remained the only four in the Americas that are “not free” – the latter two due to the murders of journalists and the impunity surrounding their cases.

The report sums up the Americas: “Chile’s decline to Partly Free and major setbacks in Ecuador are the latest in a series of negative developments in Latin America over the past decade. Whether due to violence by criminal groups, as in Mexico and Honduras, or government hostility to media criticism, as in Venezuela, Argentina, and Bolivia, media freedom is under threat in much of the region.”

The US is considered one of the world's freer presses, but it saw a slight dip in 2011 over harassment surrounding the Occupy movement. And good news comes from the Middle East. The report opens with these words: “The year 2011 featured precarious but potentially far-reaching gains for media freedom in the Middle East and North Africa. Major steps forward were recorded in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia, where longtime dictators were removed after successful popular uprisings.”

In terms of security, Mexico continues to be one of the world's most dangerous locations for working journalists. Just a week ago, Mexican reporter Regina Martinez Perez was found beaten, strangled, and left for dead in her home in Veracruz, which saw a huge spike in drug-fueled violence in 2011, as we reported here.

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