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Political commentator Nelson Castro's contract cancelled, allegedly as a result of government pressure

(IAPA/IFEX) - The following is a 3 February 2009 IAPA press release:

Revenge against Argentine journalist raises IAPA concern

Miami (February 3, 2009) - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today voiced concern at the firing of an Argentine radio station political commentator, allegedly motivated by pressure from the Cristina Kirchner government over a controversy unleashed in the country's news media.

Journalist Nelson Castro had signed a contract to host the program "Puntos de vista" (Points of View), aired by Radio del Plata radio station, through to the end of 2009, but it was cancelled after he criticized the construction company Electroingenería, which acquired the radio station late last year and was said to have strong ties to the federal government.

IAPA President Enrique Santos Calderón declared, "Our organization is very respectful of the editorial rights of privately-owned news media", but "given the nature of the complaints made public we must express our concern about pressure being applied by governments to censor and limit critical, free and independent reporting."

Santos Caldéron, editor of the Bogotá, Colombia, newspaper El Tiempo, recalled that the IAPA had formerly received complaints from other independent journalists claiming they were the object of reprisals during the current Cristina de Kirchner administration and the previous one under her husband, Néstor Kirchner. Included among those cases were José "Pepe" Eliaschev, who was taken off the air at Radio Nacional radio, where for five years he had hosted the program "Esto que pasa" (This Is What's Happening) , and Víctor Hugo Morales, among others.

Current opinion is that the radio station canceled Castro's contract following his interview with an opposition congressman during which he made allegations of wrongdoing that benefits the Electroingenería company in its public construction projects.

For his part, the chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Robert Rivard, editor and executive vice president of the San Antonio Express-News, San Antonio, Texas, declared that the IAPA has for some time now cited the problem created by a number of governments, particularly those of Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua, "taking over news media outlets with public funds and then using them not as public media but for personal and propaganda interests."

For further information on the Eliaschev and Morales cases, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/76130

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