article from December 26, 2011
By Jamie Douglas
Welcome back to the real world of South American banana republic politics – and Argentina is not even a banana exporter!
During the final 48 hours that the 2011 Argentinean Congress was in session, they managed to ram through several Kirchner administration bills, one in particular aimed to strengthen the president’s arsenal in the epic battle of Cristina v Clarín. Her attempts to muffle if not silence the opposition press are taking an ever-more crude approach. This time, her thinly veiled attempts are made in the supposed name of “national interest,” very similar to what Hugo Chávez did in Venezuela and Rafael Correa has done to the press in Ecuador, which is to put a muzzle on it!
The newsprint law was passed by both the Senate and Congress following along the lines of her reelection margin. So it is certain in my mind that the people of this Southern Cone nation will get what they ordered: a repressive totalitarian state, where the supply of newsprint is controlled by the government. As Liliana Fellner of the Upper House’s Victory Front and head of the Freedom of Speech Committee stated, “[the] initiative is aimed to end the quotas imposed on provincial newspapers,” while the minority opposition labeled the bill “a restriction on the freedom of expression as well as of the importation of newsprint.”
Presidenta Cristina has made numerous appeals to Congress to pass this law quickly, in order to give her more control and power over Clarín and La Prensa.
One organization speaking out against this law is the Inter American Press Association (IAPA). But the chairman of that august body, Gustavo Mohme, seems to suffer from delusions, or he has just completely lost focus of what has been going on in Argentina, not just recently but also throughout its whole history. The IAPA described as “malicious” the “attempts by the Argentinean government to control press freedom through the adaptation of the new laws, regarding importation, production and distribution of newsprint,” proclaiming the new law to be clearly unconstitutional because of its suppression of the freedom of the press.
Mohme hopes that the affected parties will resort to the courts, where, he is sure (!) that an eventual ruling (in 10 years or so) will declare the law unconstitutional, as it directly contravenes Article 32 of the nation’s constitution and all precedents in inter-American case law that prohibit the free distribution of ideas.
Only two problems with that: 1) Cristina Fernández de Kirchner owns the Supreme Court. And 2) Newsprint is not an idea; it is a commodity that may be used by subversives to undermine the authority of a corrupt and disingenuous government.
Maybe it is just a coincidence that on Wednesday, Dec 21, about 50 heavily armed federal police officers stormed the offices of Cablevisión, owned by Clarín, and ordered the building cleared while a government appointed auditor from Mendoza Province, accompanied by an order from a judge from Mendoza Province as well, entered the building in search of incontrovertible evidence of malfeasance.
It may be worth noting that La Cristina has just visited Mendoza and that Mendoza is 1,000 km from Buenos Aires, where the raid took place. Interior Minister Florencio Randazo proclaimed it was nonsense to suggest that the raid was carried out on the orders of the government! Very interesting; so who carried out the raid? Privateers?
San Rafael, Mendoza
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