President Néstor Kirchner, who handed over to his wife in December 2007, never gave a single press conference at the presidential palace and relations between the government and the media remain tense.
Cristina Fernández, the clear winner of the October 2007 presidential election, took over on 10 December from her husband Néstor Kirchner, who had shown great hostility to the media during his four years in office, especially towards the right-wing daily La Nación, and never given a single press conference at the presidential palace. The more personable Fernández is more at ease than her husband before microphones and cameras and may be able to reduce tension between government and media, as her Uruguayan and Brazilian colleagues have done. But she publicly called the media “stupid” and “ignorant” in July 2006.
Direct attacks on the media and obstacles to press freedom were fewer in 2007 but remained high (more than 20) in a country with a solid journalistic tradition. Tomás Eliaschev, editor of the website perfil.com (part of the Perfil group), was badly beaten up in Buenos Aires on 13 September 2007 during a dispute between the Buenos Aires press workers union UTPBA and the Perfil group after the dismissal of one of perfil.com’s editors, Alejandro Wall.
Claudia Acuña, founder of an online news agency, La Vaca, and an associated daily, MU, was harassed by police after she wrote a book on prostitution in Buenos Aires and revealed involvement of government officials. Police checked the identity of everyone visiting her apartment in July but refused to provide legal justification for the operation.
Provincial censorship and bad memories
The provincial media was most exposed to pressure from touchy officials. The town authorities in San Lorenzo (Santa Fe province) shut down the printing works of the daily El Observador without notice on 25 July after a dispute. Presenter Marta Savorido was dismissed in March from the station LU14 Radio Provincia, in Santa Cruz province, on suspicion of sympathy for striking teachers. Sergio Poma, owner-manager of radio station FM Noticias in the northwestern province of Salta, was given a one-year suspended prison sentence and a year-long ban on working on 4 September for “insulting” the state governor by accusing him of financial fraud.
Darío Illanes, of the regional Salta daily El Tribuno, was arrested when he went to a juvenile detention centre on 1 August. He was thrown into an unmarked vehicle by three plainclothes police who beat him up. He was freed later at the insistence of colleagues and the three police were suspended. Carlos Furman, programme chief at the radio station FM 2 de Octubre in the eastern province of Entre Ríos, was beaten up at a police station on 13 September after accusing police of playing down the desecration of a cemetery. He was released on 14 September. As an anti-corruption campaigner, he is regularly harassed.
Néstor Pasquini, owner of radio station FM Show and correspondent for the radio network Red Panorama, and Hugo Francischelli, of radio station FM 97.3, were imprisoned in Cordoba province between December 2006 and March 2007 for supposedly “inciting violence,” “arson” and “causing injury” after a demonstration against a child-killing. They were freed for lack of evidence and the case was dropped.