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SPP concerned over censorship in Ciudad del Este

(SPP/IFEX) - 11 July 2010 - The Paraguayan Union of Journalists (Sindicato de Periodistas del Paraguay, SPP) condemns the censorship imposed on radio journalists in Ciudad del Este, Alto Paraná, as a result of political pressure by local politicians.

On 8 July 2010, Emilio Alvarez, the manager of Radio Corpus in Ciudad del Este, informed journalist Juan Pío Balbuena that his programme would be cancelled because the station's owner had made a "business deal" with a local politician, Javier Zacarías Irún. Station owner Orlando Valdez allegedly promised that his station would not air criticisms of a faction of the Partido Colorado party that Zacarías belongs to and which is headed by the former vice president of Paraguay, Luis Castiglioni. Zacarías's wife, Sandra McLeod, is the mayor of Ciudad del Este.

Another journalist who works for Radio Corpus, Osvaldo Brítez, was also pressured by the station's owner to stop criticising errors that were being made by the city of Ciudad del Este. The mayor offered Brítez a bribe of approximately US$420 in exchange for favouring her political party on his show. The journalist refused and was forced to resign.

A third journalist, Florinda Vega, was fired by Radio Magnífica FM because she refused to be the "campaign chief" for Jotvino Urunaga, the former governor of Alto Paraná province. The radio station's owner, Antonio Recalde, made the suggestion and when Vega refused, he decided to cancel her programme.

(Please note this is an abridged translation.)

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