Freedom of expression and freedom of the press are fundamental pillars of the rule of law. Authoritarian regimes, with dictatorial pretenses, seek at all costs to silence the disclosure of facts, data and realities. Lamentable examples have been observed in countries like Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua; however, in Guatemala there is no lack of symptoms of this closure.
Intolerance, harassment, and intimidation persist by elected officials, minions, mayors, and deputies who frequently seek to hide certain issues, connections, conflicts of interest, and rigging of institutional processes that deteriorate the democratic framework from the public eye. Precisely for this reason, Article 5 of the Constitution of the Republic of Guatemala is so valuable, which guarantees the free expression of thought without restrictions and which clearly establishes that criticism and accusations against officials, whether in the exercise of the law, are not a crime. charge or subsequent to it.
Journalism is a public service, and without it there is no democracy. In other words: freedom of the press does not only benefit journalists. It is the only tool against authoritarianism and corruption. If it is lost, we all lose, especially in these digital times in which the information offer has diversified and the possibility of individual expression through comments and social networks has been enhanced. The mission of the independent news media is to gather facts and data to present serious news in various fields of interest.
A society cannot be free if it does not know the reality of what is happening, and citizens are the most affected by the partial or total blocking of free access to information. Public officials groom themselves to project a suitable image according to their interests and agendas, especially in the pre-election months that lie ahead. It is there where journalists present to the public perspectives on performance, the quality of spending, deficiencies in the fulfillment of promises: an informative audit that is often uncomfortable, because it is not at the service of political purposes, but of the country.
Challenging times for democracy are living. Perverse pacts threaten the principles of separation of powers. Governments try to make their own version tailored to the supposed anti-corruption fight, in which they want to be judge and party, with the cooperation of other unofficial actors who also resent the specific pointing out of their absurdities, abuses and opacities.
Any aggression against social communicators is regrettable, but even more regrettable is the slowness of the Office of the Prosecutor for Crimes against Journalists. There are 116 cases of harassment, attacks and threats in the last year from impunity; 265, if 2020 and 2021 are covered. Despite this, journalistic work continues precisely because journalists believe in democracy, in accountability and in a better Guatemala.
Any attempt to silence the press is the fruit of backward minds, lacking the capacity to respond to the expectations they uttered at rallies and for which they must be held accountable. Without journalism, millionaire cases of corruption would not have been exhibited. Without journalism, the interference of political operators in the magistrate elections would not have been pointed out. Without journalism, Serrano Elías would not have been expelled from power in 1993, Congress would not have been purged in 1994 and the Russian contract that the Government has not officially revealed, to mention a few examples, would not be known.
The independent press demonstrates its democratic vocation on a daily basis, because it works for the honest and dignified citizen. In Prensa Libre and Guatevisión we reiterate our commitment to the defense of constitutional rights. We reject any attempt at censorship, whether in the form of laws or measures that attempt to impose it.