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News on hard news in Latin America

Journalism, since the beginning, is the kind of job that you need creativity and a good margin of freedom to make it work in full swing, but in some countries it’s a profession in danger, even with all the evolution modern society has gone through. Latin America nowadays is, definitely, one of these dangerous places for this kind of exercise, and we heard some experts about the subject last afternoon in Sala dei Notari.


Cecilia Rinaldini, from RAI Radio News, traced a panorama of the frightening numbers that depict the reality of what goes on in Mexico: last year, 13 dead journalists, while in Iraq, in the current state of war, 16 journalists were killed. And the most alarming thing is that – added to the high death rates – there’s a lot of impunity and narc cartels seem to have a better health than the press’, which perpetuates this continuous threat to freedom for Mexican professionals. 


Hollman Morris, from Contravia, agreed with Cecilia and added that in Colombia, narcotraffic is just a small part of the picture. Corrupt politicians are a much greater problem, and the stigmatization from president Uribe over journalists and opposition members, for example, is something that goes beyond imagination. The illegal practice of phone call interceptation is of current use against people who want to oppose the government. No doubt Morris is part of this category, and as a direct consequence, he said he got more than 50 death threats.


Guido Piccolli, from Il Manifesto, also added to Morris’ saying that “there’s a false and superficial reading about Colombia and Latin America”. European and US people in his opinion tend to read the reality with two weighs and two measures: by being resilient with those they have affinity with, and by being inflexible with those who are “less friendly” to them. But, as he said, “we usually point up the terrorists and the mafia, but we forget when the State is the terrorist and when the politicians are the mafia. It’s easy to point up what’s wrong when it’s far”. He also stressed the importance of reporting according to the rules, and brought to the scene the episode with the tentative of coup-d’état against Hugo Chavez, in 2002.


And as no panorama of South or Latin America could be complete without talking about what goes on in Brazil, Ricardo Pereira from Rede Globo was also on the round. He said that Brazilian media is freer than in Colombia, actually what happens for times is the opposite – media controlling the government – but that also there are remains from dictatorship (that started 35 years ago in a military coup-d’état and re-opened to democracy in 1985 with a popular movement for presidential elections), such as the Brazilian Press Law, elaborated before the democratic re-opening. He called the attention for the responsibility on reporting in Italy, Brazil and other countries, mainly in this blog era.


And as an motivating closing to the cycle, Morris highlighted the role of international press in educating and mobilizing people – mainly young people – and also reminded the power of television in Latin America is huge, but “young people are the great mobilizing force in latin-american society in the fight for equality, human rights and land issues” and that the continent is a “a place in ebullition, a laboratory for social experiments” not just for journalists, but a place that worth being discovered, studied and lived in.


Meghie Rodrigues



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