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IAPA: Cuba, Others Face Press Woes

June 15, 2000

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) _ The press is seriously restricted in Cuba but it faces problems in Colombia, Venezuela and Peru as well, the president of the Inter American Press Association said Wednesday.

Cuba has had a long history of harassing, intimidating and restricting the press, Tony Pederson told a gathering of 1,400 editors and journalists. But he said the problems have increased since the government began taking a tougher line against independent journalists last year.

In Venezuela, Peru and Colombia, threats to independent press, though much less serious, are still troubling, he told the IAPA members from across the Americas.

``We have long passed the days of governments closing newspapers and jailing editors for no reason. But what we are seeing now are pressures much more subtle,″ Pederson said citing repressive and restrictive press laws, lawsuits and even economic harassment and manipulation of government advertising.

In Venezuela, measures passed by President Hugo Chavez’s government have had negative consequences for the press, he said.

In Peru, Pederson said ``the government of Alberto Fujimori has continued to show lack of regard for press freedom.″

Pederson cited the case of Israeli-born Baruch Ivcher, who lost his Peruvian citizenship and consequentially his TV station after his reporters broadcast reports implicating the government in torture.

Murder also remains a popular means of silencing journalists across much of Latin America, with some 200 killed over the last decade.

More than half of those killings occurred in Colombia, making it the most dangerous country in the world for the press, he said.

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