According to an APES reporter, the dark horizon of uncertainty and fears regarding the future of the country’s press is faltering. In this connection, he pointed out that the association was registering five cases of harassment of journalists.
Seraben Valencia Martinez, a trained journalist since 1990, has been president of the El Salvador Journalists Association (APES) from 2006-2008 and 2015-2017. He also ran as a candidate for Commissioner of the Public Information Access Agency (IAIP).
Valencia has been a university professor since 2004 and is currently a member of the APES Freedom of Expression, Committee on the Protection of Journalists and Manager of the Law on the Protection of Journalists.
In an interview with the media, Valencia exposed the state of the press in the country and pointed out that there are five cases of harassment of journalists in the APES.
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He pointed out that the list of journalists who are embarrassing to the government has the potential to be finalized, which will seek to raise criminal cases and thus remove them from public space.
How is freedom of expression in the country?
What usually happens in the country in terms of freedom of expression and the press, I usually explain it from a picture, is that if it is tapped, it can free itself or control the trick we call liberties, freedom of expression. Freedom of thought, information and press. I hope that plate that can be turned on either side to free or restrict the exercise of these rights is now being turned to the side of closure because we have done some work on behalf of our leaders in recent days to indicate that we are moving in that direction.
What are those activities?
In recent days, we have seen two concrete censorship actions against the media, and I am talking directly about Cado Enzerado and Bectum magazine. This is not the first time since the signing of peace agreements that the state and the government have acted as direct auditors and ordered the download of newspaper content from the media.
What is your opinion on the resolution of the Santa Ana Peace Tribunal regarding the release of Factum?
There are substantial and dangerous elements, and in the third argument, the press is warned to refrain from using any data or information related to the case file, which publishes the resolution in the hours of the night on a project that will appear on that day. This is called pre-censorship, which is prohibited in Article 6 of our Constitution, the guarantee of freedom of expression and thought.
Is this related to the statements made by President Buckell on June 1, the fifth step to gaining full power?
This may be related to those statements when he said he was going to take action against the ideological machine in which he identifies with the media, which is another worrying element because it seems he has already begun in this sense.
How do you do that?
It does so by using certain judges from the judicial system through the country’s institutions, the attorney’s office and resolutions. I think it makes things more and more complicated.
Is Defense Minister Gustavo Villadoro part of the announcement that journalists are “being followed”?
The Minister’s statements confirm that in practice we APES and this reporter followed him, which means that they are monitoring us from the government, especially the media and journalists from the government.
Are there cases registered in APES?
At least five cases have been reported so far from co-workers who realize they are being harassed when they leave their offices and homes and then harassed around their residences.
What will happen in countries that try to conform to democratic principles when faced with strong statements like Minister Villadoro?
In Europe, officials resign two hours after a statement, as the minister said, because such statements are contrary to the rights and democratic principles of a state. Such statements are subject to immediate resignation in accordance with the principles of ethics and ethics, otherwise the same company is activated to correct those errors. Nothing happened here.
Why are the country’s companies not acting in this case?
This is because a good part of the country’s institutional structure is aligned with the centralized power of President Buckle.
Is the press considered an “enemy” by the president?
Newspapers that are subject to government-sponsored talk or government-published information are located within the opposition and within a concept that they call enemies of the country.
Why do you think the President should retain his confrontational discourse and find “enemies”?
The president leads his confrontational and sometimes hateful speech, saying it is necessary to find enemies along the way and if nothing else, they should be built. Prior to this there were political opponents among those who claimed that he defended the image of the hero, savior and leader who wanted to continue to build other actors and maintain this confrontational discourse after those opponents had dominated the electoral structure.
After political opposition, are journalists the next enemy of the government?
The next enemy seems to be becoming the media that does not adhere to the speeches he wants to spread, the media, the media, those who call them the ideological machine and those who claim that the work he has been leaving since June 1.
From APES, have you asked the international community to comply in this regard?
We know that it is not the international community that is defending the full guarantees of rights or coming to solve the internal problems of this country, but rather it should be the Salvadorans, but we need that awareness and support.
Did they get the support of international organizations in the face of the situation?
We already have solidarity with organizations of international journalists, such as the IDF, the International Press Association, Reporters Without Borders, Amnesty International and journalists’ organizations in some European countries, who express solidarity with the media. Redeemer.
With regard to this panorama, how do you see the future of the country’s press?
I look at the very dark horizon, every time it gets darker, and at dawn it stains that dark color more, i.e., there is uncertainty and fear.
What kind of fears?
They have begun to talk about the list of journalists who may be prosecuted in the future for being charged with a crime, precisely because there are still independent newspapers that dare to investigate certain things to remove them from public space and remove those places that the government does not want to know.
Could there be media closures in the future like what happened in Nicaragua?
Despite the direction of recent actions such as the censorship of these two newspapers (Factoon and Cado Enzerado) and the possibility of finalizing the list of journalists embarrassed to raise criminal cases, we hope it will not get there. , We head towards that Nicaraguan road as far as it can. I don’t know to what extent closing the media might work, but there are signs along the way.
What are the symptoms?
Recall that there is financial harassment against two digital newspapers that the President has declared his rivals, El Foro and Factum, and both media outlets that have publicly stated that they are being financially harassed, it seems that they are trying to analyze, from a financial perspective, look for statistics of possible errors that need to be done with the Treasury in between This has been done in the press systems to remove the ban. If so, if it works, we will go that route.
In this situation, can it be said that there is a high risk newspaper in the country?
There are pursuits and some harassment against five journalists, which are the cases we have registered, and it tells you that doing journalism here is more risky.
What is the danger to the press?
Do the critical, professional journalism that industry and community demand of you.
Is there control over state information?
On June 1, there was a concentration and control of the state’s information, and the rest of the press was isolated from accessing different sources when it was cornered, meaning that the rest of them were not allowed to go to the authorities to conduct their interviews and take consistent notes on the reports presented there, which is a definite measure to control the information. , Aimed at preventing the media at that time from carrying out their work freely and independently.
Should the international community and organizations pay attention to these elements?
When a government fences you with information, it restricts access to the source, and when it forbids all officials from reporting to the media, it is already very dictatorial because it is an organization that cannot be called democracy, because it restricts the word, that is, nationalizes the word.
How is this word nationalized?
Not only are there these 15 or more media outlets that are active in disseminating government narratives, but the word is being nationalized to the extent that the government controls, has the ability to control who speaks and who does not, and what it is not from the public sector.
With these panorama and analyzed features, is a law to protect journalists important?Today it is necessary to repeal Article 6 of the Constitution and try again to approve a law to protect journalists.
How do you see the workings of IAIP?
This is an example of the dead, we are practically buried, coming to the IAIP grave. Because it was not there, it stopped working.
What happened to the company?
IAIP, a company co-sponsored by the current government, is going to guarantee the concealment of information to its political operators, in Buckell’s interests. If he is not in the coffin, he is in the ICU in intensive care, and there are several companies.