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  • Copycat Chavistas: Kirchners Seek to Impose Censorship in Argentina

    Christina Fernandez de Kirchner

    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.

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

    4 Responses to Copycat Chavistas: Kirchners Seek to Impose Censorship in Argentina

    1. Katherine, Pottsrvil says:

      I can see how the proposed Obama "Net Neutrality" could have a similar chilling effect. Once free speech is lost, it is very different to regain.

      As for the corruption of Argentina's goverment statistics, I am troubled by how the Obama adminstration touts their 'saved' jobs as part of the employment equation. No previous adminstration has used such 'fuzzy' math when addressing employment.

      It is all extremely troubling.

    2. Oscar Zarate, Buenos says:

      It's sad to see how things can be distorted without any regards for the real facts. And that is exactly what mr. Roberts does here. What really happened in Argentina was Government taking a decisive action to ensure freedom of speech, but above all freedom of the written press. Argentina has only one factory that produces paper for newspapers, and it's owned by the two main of them; who handle and use its price and availability as a commercial and disloyal weapon to avoid competition, suffocating small papers until they dissapear. And these two papers acquired control of the factory by means of torture and prison imposed to their legal owners by Videla's dictatorship in exchange for silence on their death policies. President Fernandez de Kirchner just disposed to send the case to the Justice, and ensure free access of any media to this essential supply at the same price.

    3. Eddie Lawrence (Cali says:

      Mr. Robert's comment is at best incomplete. The Argentine Government is a minority shareholder of the only newsprint factory in the country, Papel Prensa. They believed they have evidence that the majority shareholders -the papers Clarin and La Nacion- bought their shares in 1977 from the Graiver family using threats and taking advantage of their close relationship with the military dictatorship. Indeed Lidia Graiver, then the widow of her husband David Graiver, was kidnapped and tortured by the military. Now the democratic elected government of Cristina Fernandez-Kirchner is sending the evidence to Court and is also asking the Congress (where the government party is a minority) if Papel Prensa should be considered as a monopoly. No lesson is being learned from Mr. Chavez.

    4. Arnaldo, Buenos Aire says:

      Beware. Author Jim Roberts is either misinformed or ill-intended.

      It has been known for decades that ownership of Papel Prensa, the only newsprint factory in Argentina was transfered to its current owners in 1977 from the Graiver family in very obscure circumstances. Shortly after the transfer of shares was made, several members of the Graiver family and officers of their holding company were kidnapped by paramilitary groups commanded by the Argentinian de-facto government junta. They were subsequently tortured and in some cases killed. The Graiver family was accused and found guilty of being financiers to the Montoneros terrorist organization by a military court. The US Embassy in Buenos Aires doubted the accusation and attributed the events to internal power struggles between factions in the military junta.

      Shares of Papel Prensa were transfered (or "sold" for 7,000 USD) to its current shareholders: The newspapers Clarin, La Nacion and La Razon (later bankrupted and absorbed by Clarin) and to the Argentinian government.

      Today, the two major newspapers Clarin (49%) & La Nacion (22.5%) combined and syndicated by an agreement signed in the 80s, hold a majority stake in Papel Prensa. The company has been denounced for monopolistic practices since the mid 80s, long before the current government started its investigation.

      Julio Ramos, the late owner of the Ambito Financiero newspaper owner, denounced newsprint price manipulation and selective sales policies in Paper Prensa in the mid 1990s in his book "Los Cerrojos a la Prensa" ("the Locks on the Press").

      Declassified US Department of State communications from the US Embassy Buenos Aires to the Secretary of State in 1977 provide some insights into the circumstances surrounding the kidnapping of the Graiver family members and the role played by the newspapers prior to the events.

      Jacobo Timerman, father of Hector Timerman who is -as of September 2010- Argentina's Minister of Foreign Relations and previously was Argentina's Ambassador to the US. In 1997, his father Jacobo was the owner and director of the newspaper La Opinion which had covered the Graiver case in April 1977. Shortly afterwards he too was illegally kidnapped and tortured, he was later transfered to the Argentinian security forces allegedly accused of aiding terrorist organizations and of economic crimes. He was stripped of all his assets by the de-facto government. Eventually, and partially due to pressure from the Carter administration, he was released, deported and stripped of his Argentinian citizenship. This is also thoroughly documented in the declassified US State Department communications mentioned above.

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