In the run-up to her (or perhaps husband and former President Nestor Kirchner’s) expected bid for re-election in 2011, Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is flexing her government’s muscles to pressure the media for favorable coverage. Opposition leaders, however, call it an attempt to silence critics. Fernandez is sending draft legislation to Argentina’s Congress mandating governmental regulation of “the production, sale and distribution of newsprint in the public interest.”
The Kirchners are taking yet another page from Hugo Chávez’s playbook. He clamped down on freedom of speech in Venezuela years ago, but his popularity is tanking anyway due to his incompetence and corrupt cronyism. It is little wonder that the Kirchners are trying to squelch the truth about their job performance. Another former president, Eduardo Duhalde, recently explained why: “Inflation is hitting the poor very hard and the middle class is already disenchanted with the government,” Duhalde said. Of course the Kirchners are no strangers to censorship and corruption, as they are old pros at masking official government statistics to report lower-than-real inflation figures—something they have been doing for years.