San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Country Ranks 35th in Press-Freedom Index

COSTA Rica ranks 35th of 167nations included in the Reporters WithoutBorders (RSF) 2004 press-freedom index,released yesterday, making it the second highest-ranked Latin American countrybehind El Salvador (28th).The Paris-based watchdog organizationnoted a trend in its third annualindex, compiled through interviews withjournalists, researchers, jurists and humanrights activists throughout the world,toward relatively high rankings on thepart of what it called “small and oftenimpoverished” democracies including ElSalvador, Costa Rica, Cape Verde (38th)and Namibia (42nd) in Africa and Timor-Leste (57th) in Asia.Still, Costa Rica has backslid since2002, when it achieved 15th place among139 countries, said Raúl Silesky, presidentof the Costa Rican Jour-nalists’ Association.In 2003, Costa Rica ranked 24th out of 166countries and the highest-ranked LatinAmerican country (TT, Oct. 31, 2003).Silesky blames this year’s slip on thesentencing of three journalists of thenewspaper Diario Extra, threats againstcommunications professionals, the closingof the offices of the magazineChavespectáculos, the use of state-paidadvertisements as pressure against somemedia and the failure of the LegislativeAssembly to reform ancient press laws.In Nicaragua, the murder of journalistCarlos Guadamuz caused the country todrop from 34th place last year to 52ndthis year, according to Reporters WithoutBorders.The United States ranked in 22nd placewith “violations of the privacy of sources,persistent problems in granting press visasand the arrest of several journalists duringanti-(President George W.) Bush demonstrations,”according to the report.Cuba, in 166th place, was defeated byNorth Korea in the contest for the world’sworst violator of press freedoms.On the whole, the organization said,East Asia and the Middle East had “theworst press freedom records,” whilenorthern European countries offered “ahaven of peace for journalists.”Denmark ranks first on the list, followedby Finland. For more informationsee the Web site:

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