The police, the courts, government employees and even the presidency were involved in attacks and pressure on journalists and the media in 2001. Relations between the government and the press were especially tense at the end of March when the president of the senate announced that any journalist who defamed or harmed the reputation of a senator would be prosecuted. Fortunately, this did not happen.
Eight journalists attacked
Cristino Nuñez, a cameraman with the very popular TV news programme "Detrás de la Noticia," broadcast from the northern city of Santiago, was wounded on 3 July 2001 by gunfire which police said may have come from a local official of the ruling party. Three days later, Esteban Rosario, the programme’s presenter, was accused of raping a young woman and was jailed. The case was dismissed after medical tests showed the woman had not been raped or had an abortion as she had claimed. Rosario, who in his programme had accused the authorities of corruption, had been attacked at the beginning of the year by a local political figure.
Six journalists were attacked by police on 5 December after they had witnessed security forces beating up a former government employee. They were Luciolo Tolentino, a photographer with the daily El Nuevo Diario, Silvio Cabrera, of the daily El Nacional, Franklin Cepeda, of the Cadena de Noticias radio and TV station, Andrés Terrero, of the weekly Rumbo, Orlando Ramos, of the daily El Siglo, and Jorge Disla, a cameraman for the Canal 2 TV station.
Pressure and obstruction
A reporter from El Siglo, Luis Guzman, was removed from a hearing in the fourth civil court in Santo Domingo on 15 May 2001 by a judge on grounds that the media "twists the facts." Soon afterwards, Niza Campos, of the daily Listín Diario, Silvio Cabrera, of El Nacional, and Federico Méndez, of the daily Ultima Hora, were barred from the courtroom.
Dario Medrano (a reporter) and Ramón Cardona (a cameraman), of the Santo Domingo TV station Color Visión, denounced pressure on the station by government officials to dismiss them. The journalists were accused of putting out news that was "harmful to the government" on the US-based international TV network Univisión, which they also work for.
In July, the TV station Telediario América suspended its programme "Los hechos y su historia" after pressure from a senior government official. The official, whom the station refused to identify, had complained that the programme, presented by former parliamentary deputy Rafael Flores Estrella and lawyer Tomas Castro, had harmed President Mejía’s reputation.