Andres Oppenheimer doesn’t make news with his column on the sad state of press freedom in a growing number of Latin American countries, but he does say what more people need to hear. (Press censorship on the rise in Latin America)
Like never before in recent history, elected presidents who already control their congresses and judicial systems are trying to silence independent media. If they succeed, as they seem to be doing, they will have a de facto license to steal — both money and elections — without any effective legislative or media scrutiny
Like I said, nothing new. The one thing power-hungry all but in actual name dictators abhor is having someone — like an independent media — looking over their shoulders. Hence the government leadership in Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia follow the game plan of others who are more upfront about their dictatorial rule such as Beijing, Zimbabwe and Iran.
The limits placed on free and independent media have a direct effect on the corruption perception of a country. It also plays into the investment atmosphere for those countries. (A controlled media also means businesses will have a hard time getting accurate economic data that are vital to investments.)
And a really bad part of this is that there are so many willing dupes in the region that latch on to proposals from these violators of basic rights because it sounds populist or to stick their thumbs in the eye of the United States just because they can.
A good example is a proposal coming up for a vote in the Organization of American States. on the Office of the Special Rapporteur of Freedom of Expression.
Ecuador got support last month to bring up for a vote later this month a proposal to do away with the rapporteur. Seems that office was just a little too critical too often of abuses of press freedom in Ecuador.
Better to kill the messenger than to face the facts. (After all, that is what Ecuador, Venezuela, etc. are doing within their own borders.)
It will be interesting to see who ends up voting for this proposal.