Lynne Walker, a U.S. journalist and vice president of the nonprofit development organization the Institute of the Americas, visited Costa Rica May 3 to commemorate World Press Freedom Day.
“I feel very honored to be here with you to celebrate the freedom of expression that you enjoy in this country,” Walker told journalists and other attendees at a presentation at Costa Rica’s Supreme Court in San José. “Costa Rica is an example for Latin America, a clear demonstration that when the press can … investigate, and when the press can hold accountable those who govern, the efforts of journalists strengthen the democracy of a country.”
Walker, who is based in San Diego, California, in the United States, worked as a journalist for 15 years for a news service in Mexico and has won numerous awards for reporting on immigration in the U.S.
She discussed threats to freedom of expression – a salient topic for a region where violence against reporters, particularly in Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico, has reached alarming levels. Organized crime related to the illegal drug trade, Walker said, is a driving factor behind many of the deadly attacks against journalist in Latin America.
Walker touched on topics of corruption and self-censorship by journalists in the face of physical threats.
“When violence is committed against one journalist,” Walker said, “violence is committed against all of us.”
Walker’s speech was organized by the U.S. Embassy, the Supreme Court, the Institute for the Press and Freedom of Expression and the Costa Rica Journalists’ Association.