Association Pessimistic About Press Freedom

March 18, 2005

PANAMA CITY – Nearly 400 delegates,including a representative of TheTico Times, met in Panama this pastweekend for the mid-year meeting of theInter-American Press Association (IAPA).Founded in 1950, the IAPA’s missionis to defend freedom of the press in theWestern Hemisphere and provide a forumfor the exchange of ideas and informationfor its members.After hearing country-by-countryreports, IAPA concluded, “hopes for afully free and independent press appear tobe dimming.” Five journalists have beenkilled in the last six months and countryreports from the United States, Venezuela,Argentina, Ecuador, Cuba and Haitiraised issues of concern.Presidents Alvaro Uribe fromColombia and Martin Torrijos fromPanama addressed the delegates, expressingtheir desire to provide journalists withaccess to government information. Uribesaid he welcomes healthy “criticism ofgovernment institutions but doesn’tunderstand the news media interviewingterrorists as this only gives them moreimportance.” The delegates congratulatedTorrijos for reversing a law prohibitingjournalists from reporting on corruptionin Panama.Members of the IAPA’s ChapultepecCommittee plan to meet in Washington,D.C. in April for an emergency forum onpress-freedom issues, including threatsagainst journalists and the Shield Lawcurrently before the U.S. Congress.The Tico Times has been a member ofIAPA for 33 years and in 1981 wasawarded the Pedro G. Beltran Award fordistinguished community service and in1995 the Grand Prize for Press Freedom.The IAPA’s 2005 Annual Meeting willbe held in October in Indianapolis,Indiana.

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