December 17, 2018

Press Freedom

Argentina

Argentina September 21, 2010

H.E. Cristina Fernández de Kirchner

President

Palacio de Gobernación

Balcarce 24

Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires

República Argentina


Your Excellency:


We are writing on behalf of the Overseas Press Club of America, whose membership includes some 600 of the world’s most influential journalists, to ask you to re-consider your campaign against the newspapers, Clarín and La Nación. Argentina has now enjoyed 27 years of democracy, but it is one of the burdens of democratic leaders to endure the criticism of the press. Without the right to criticize, democracy loses its meaning.


The Argentine Congress took one extremely important step towards bolstering freedom of the press last year by de-criminalizing libel. However, the other steps taken or announced by your government are moving distinctly in the other direction. A year ago, some 200 tax agents raided the offices of Clarín after the newspaper had reported improprieties in farm subsidies. Last month, your administration canceled the license of Clarín’s Fibertel, one of the principal Internet providers in Argentina. Now, you are proposing legislation that would force the two newspapers to turn over to the government their control of Papel Prensa, the principal supplier of newsprint in Argentina, on the grounds that newsprint is of “public interest” and that the newspapers obtained ownership by coercion.


We can not avoid seeing the similarities between your administration’s attacks on the press and the attacks of the Perón regime half a century ago. In both cases, one sees a piecemeal campaign to bring the press under control bit by bit. Control of newsprint was one of the weapons Perón used to subdue the press. In both cases, the targets are the same, Clarín and La Nación. The old La Prensa was also a target of the Perón regime and eventually it died. The attacks on those newspapers became a world-wide scandal that blackened the reputation of the Perón regime.


In the current matter of Papel Prensa, your government’s recent report accuses Clarín and La Nación of collusion with the military dictatorship in the 1970s to coerce the Graiver family into selling their Papel Prensa. Although the history of the Graivers and Papel Prensa is confusing, the charges made by your administration go beyond reason, especially since there has been no judicial or administrative action on this question for more than three decades. Isidoro Graiver argues in an open letter that the sale of Papel Prensa was a straightforward business deal. He points out that it was signed in November, 1976, four months before he was seized by “irregular” operatives of the military dictatorship, and states that he has no desire to reclaim his interest in Papel Prensa.


We urgently ask you to call off your campaign against Clarín and La Nación and accept the fact that if democracy is to flourish, the press must be free to criticize, even if that criticism is sometimes inaccurate and irresponsible.


Respectfully yours,

Jeremy Main
Larry Martz

Co-chairs – Freedom of the Press Committee

cc:


Dr. Guillermo Moreno

Secretario de Comercio Interior

Palacio de Gobernación

Balcarce 24

Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires

Republica Argentina


H.E. José Octavio Bordón

Ambassador of Argentina to the U.S.A.

Embassy of the Republic of Argentina

1600 New Hampshire Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20009

Fax: (202) 332.3171


Ambassador César Mayoral

Permanent Representative

Permanent Mission of the Republic of Argentina
to the United Nations

One United Nations Plaza

New York, NY 10017

Fax: (212) 980.8395


H.E. Vilma Martinez

U.S. Ambassador to Argentina

Embajada de los Estados Unidos

Avenida Colombia 4300

CI425GMA Buenos Aires

Argentina


Doňa Ernestina Herrera de Noble

Directora

Grupo Clarín

Piedras 1743

C1140BK Buenos Aires

Argentina


Dr. Héctor Horacio Magnetto

Presidente

Grupo Clarín

Piedras 1743

C1140ABK Buenos Aires

Argentina


Dr. Bartolomé Mitre

Director

La Nación

Bouchard 551

1106 Buenos Aires

Argentina


Maria Otero

Under Secretary of State for Democracy
and Global Affairs

U.S. Department of State

2201 C Street, NW

Washington, DC 20520