Fundación LED (Libertad de Expresión + Democracia) has condemned the attitude of the Chief of Cabinet Ministers of Argentina, Jorge Capitanich, who tore up two articles published by a nationwide morning newspaper during a live official press conference at the Government House while he refuted them.
Inexplicably, something of utmost gravity has occurred. The Chief of Cabinet Ministers took advantage of one of his usual morning press conferences and spoke disparagingly about the articles published in the newspaper Clarín by journalists Eduardo van der Kooy, Nicolás Wiñaski and Daniel Santoro. Capitanich said these articles were “lies,”“rubbish,” and then tore them up while on air. He then proceeded to tell off the media outlet chequeado.com when he mentioned an article in which that on line media had questioned the origin of certain statistics disclosed by Capitanich. The Chief of Cabinet Ministers claimed, “They are the liars,” and then announced that this confrontation style would not be unusual from now on.
Such an attitude by one of the senior officials of the National Government shows total contempt for freedom of expression and of press, as well as an authoritarian exercise of power which is unprecedented in nations that are respectful of democratic guarantees. Last January 29 the Inter American Commission of Human Rights issued a statement urging the Argentine Government to “guarantee the work of the press” and reminding state officials that they “have the obligation to condemn clearly, publicly and firmly any attacks carried out in reprisal for exercising freedom of expression and to refrain from making statements that might increase the vulnerability of journalists who may be particularly at risk.”
This statement was issued by that international organization on account of Damián Pachter´s decision, the BuenosAiresHerald journalist who decided to go into self-exile when he felt threatened after having broken the news of Prosecutor Alberto Nisman´s death. The Argentine Government then reacted by disclosing Pachter´s airline tickets publicly, for which it was widely criticized by the organizations devoted to freedom of expression and of press.
The attitude of the Chief of Cabinet Ministers today is not at all in line with, but rather quite the opposite of, the IACHR, increasing the confrontation and harassment of journalists and media that question official policies.
Fundación LED shall keep on working hard so that our society may definitively turn dialogue and tolerance into something truly essential, into the only possible mechanisms at the time of settling disputes, taking into account the recommendations posed by different international organizations, thus guaranteeing the full validity of the rights set forth in the Argentine Constitution and in the international treaties incorporated in it.