The president of the Inter American Press Association Jorge Canahuati on Tuesday opened the organization’s 77th General Assembly with a message in which he highlighted how this year had been “disastrous” for press freedom.
Canahauti was joined via video conference by the president of Spain’s Agencia EFE Gabriela Cañas and former IAPA president Danilo Arbilla.
The current president made reference to closure of “emblematic” outlets such as El Nacional in Venezuela and La Prensa in Nicaragua.
“Their only crime was to conduct independent journalism,” he said.
Cañas, who as head of Spain’s Efe news agency will help to organize the IAPA’s next general assembly, which set to take place in Madrid, said that “finding a sustainable model was crucial for freedom of speech and, therefore, for democracy itself.”
She went on to congratulate this year’s joint winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, Philippines journalist María Ressa and Russian Dmitri Muratov, saying it was a “recognition of the difficult conditions facing many reporters working in precarious conditions, who often risk their freedom and sometimes their life.”
“Even without going to those extremes, we have known for a long time that false accusations against journalists and the strangling of financial sources for their business is a power weapon for all those who abuse their power,” she added.
The featured on the opening day of the assembly will be Nicaraguan writer Sergio Ramírez, who was vice president during Daniel Ortega’s first tenure as president between 1979-90 but now lives in exile after the government ordered his arrest on charges of “fueling hate and violence.”EFE