Today, November 30, the Day of the Journalist is commemorated in Guatemala. This date, which should be a reason for recognition and reflection on the contributions and challenges of journalism in the construction of a more democratic and inclusive society, finds us journalists and independent media under attack. Threats, attacks and harassment are becoming more and more frequent; the restriction of information sources, the advertising fence to economically asphyxiate media critical of power, job insecurity, defamation and harassment campaigns; and the use of Criminal Law as an instrument of criminalization.
In recent months, hostility has multiplied against those of us who publish information, investigations, analysis and opinions related to cases of grand corruption and serious human rights violations. In the discourse and in the facts, it is pursued and sought to silence the media and journalists who are distinguished by shedding light on what the powerful want to keep hidden.
They pretend that their abuses and business under the table are not known. They want the corruption they practice and the impunity that protects them to remain in the dark. They try to intimidate us, imprison us or buy us to silence us.
Faced with this critical situation, 280 colleagues and organizations unite and raise our voices in defense of freedom of expression and the right to information, which are not only ours, but of all Guatemalans. For this reason, in this column I fully share the text of the communiqué that we signed and which is entitled: “Without journalism there is no democracy”: “This Journalist’s Day, we reporters, editors, columnists and communicators do not aspire to listen to heroic songs. to the profession. Today we appeal, rather, to the attention of society: our exercise is under unusual siege. In the last year, the ways to limit the universal right to know and inform have multiplied and diversified:
From a Presidency that disrespects the press; a Public Ministry that, in tune with the Judicial Branch, fabricates cases and does not investigate abuses against journalists, to public information offices, obliged to promote a culture of transparency, which choose to become the first barrier to censorship. From institutional communication offices that dedicate public resources to orchestrate discrediting campaigns against reporters who question the public function or harass journalists, due to their status as women.
From intimidating reporters that rise in tone to attacks on his physical integrity and his family. This situation is exacerbated in the departments, where journalists are criminalized by local authorities, prosecutors and judges. Why do we draw your attention on this Journalist’s Day? Because we fulfill a function that is a precondition of democracy: Report on events that in one way or another affect it.
Thanks to the press, society knows the use that is given to taxes, the abuses committed by deputies, the existence of an overvalued and defective work. If it were not for journalists, it would be unknown that Guatemala negotiated 16 million Russian vaccines under unfavorable conditions and that the temporary hospital at Parque la Industria only has 300 beds and not the 3,000 that the president offered. He found out thanks to the painstaking work of reporters investigating and recounting these stories. A day without reliable information can be a dark day for the country. Think about it. Take action, support critical and independent journalism. They will not shut us up”.