Venezuela, Brazil, and Nicaragua were the Latin American countries that registered the greatest degradation of press freedom in 2019, according to the annual classification published this Thursday by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), which also warns of the situation in Mexico and Cuba.
Press freedom worsens in Venezuela, Brazil and Nicaragua
The "authoritarian drift" into which the government of Nicolás Maduro has entered brings Venezuela closer to the so-called "black zone", which groups the worst unemployed in a classification in which the countries of northern Europe, with Norway in the lead, get the best grade and that is closed by Turkmenistan, North Korea, and Eritrea.
In a year marked in the world by the reduction of States in which journalism can be exercised with guarantees, the repression of the independent press in Venezuela intensified and a record of arbitrary arrests of informers and violence by the forces was recorded. of the order against reporters.
The most critical radios and televisions with power have been deprived of transmission licenses and the foreign press has suffered arrests, interrogations, and even expulsions.
"The degradation of the situation leads many journalists to leave the country to escape threats and preserve their physical integrity," says RSF.
Brazil is ranked 105, near the "red zone" in which Venezuela is and other countries where the situation is "difficult" for the press, such as Burundi, Iraq or Turkey.
The deterioration of Brazil responds to a "particularly agitated" year with the murder of four journalists and the increasing fragility of the independents who cover topics linked to corruption or organized crime in small and medium-sized cities.
For RSF, the election as president of Jair Bolsonaro, after a campaign marked by the discourse of hate and misinformation, "augurs a dark period for press freedom" in Brazil.
Social networks, especially WhatsApp, have served to spread false news and discredit critical media with him, which has turned journalists into "privileged target" of the followers of Bolsonaro.
But the country that more posts fell in Latin America in the classification was Nicaragua, which fell back 24 places to be placed in position 114, in full "red zone", on account of a "repression" against the independent press in charge of the Government of Daniel Ortega.
In the context of worsening political crisis in the country and the increase in demonstrations against power, says RSF, "journalism is constantly stigmatized and attacked with harassment campaigns and death threats, in addition to arbitrary arrests."
"During the demonstrations, Nicaraguan reporters considered as opponents are frequently attacked and many of them have been forced into exile to avoid the accusation of terrorism and prison."
The report also recalls that for the twenty-second consecutive year the worst country for the press in Latin America is Cuba, in the 169th place, only eleven in Turkmenistan.
The improvement of Internet coverage on the island, which facilitates the expression of "bloggers" and some independents, does not hide that the regime, now embodied by Miguel Díaz Canel, continues to permanently control information and use repression, which leads to I exile the most critical voices.
In the "red zone" there is also Mexico, the main cemetery of journalists, ten of them murdered in 2018, prisoners of organized crime and corrupt authorities.
Self-censorship, linked to the intimidation of the political class, has grown in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, while the situation is "alarming" in Bolivia, 113 of the list, because of the censorship imposed by the Government of Evo Morales to critical media.
Chile, meanwhile, has fallen eight positions due to the attacks suffered to the protection of sources of journalists working on the Mapuche's demands or the corruption of the political class.