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Guatemalan paper suffers government harassment

A report by Guatemalan newspaper El Periódico that the government of President Otto Pérez had harassed it is a matter of “concern,” says the Inter American Press Association (IAPA).

“For the sixth time since October the Otto Pérez government, acting secretly, has shut down our Web site,” on this occasion, in order to prevent the airing of an opinion column, El Periódico president José Rubén Zamora reported.

The newspaper has been denouncing alleged corruption involving the Pérez administration, members of his family and his supporters.

As a result of this, El Periódico's Web site has gone down “mysteriously” six times since October last year. In addition, Zamora complained that the government has pursued a “commercial boycott” of the paper, withdrawing official advertising and advising advertisers in the private sector not to advertise there, as a response to the paper's editorial stance.

“We are concerned by these reports by El Periódico. The government should not harass any media outlet for its journalistic content, because that is to attack what freedom of expression is based on,” said Claudio Paolillo, chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information.

Paolillo, editor of the Montevideo, Uruguay, weekly Búsqueda, added, “Advertising discrimination due to the publication of news or opinions is a serious attack upon free speech and press freedom.”

He recalled that the IAPA-inspired Declaration of Chapultepec establishes that “No one may restrict or deny” the right “to seek and receive information, express opinions and disseminate them freely.”

He also declared that the Declaration warns that “the granting or withdrawal of government advertising may not be used to reward or punish the media or individual journalists” and that “no news medium nor journalist may be punished for publishing the truth or criticizing or denouncing the government.”

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