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New mayor says predecessor bribed reporters in El Salvador

May 28, 1997

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) _ San Salvador’s new mayor says his predecessor paid reporters to write only positive stories about him _ and is warning the journalists they’re now off the city payroll.

``We are not going to make more payments to journalists,″ declared Hector Silva, who took office in El Salvador’s capital city on May 1.

At a news conference Tuesday, Silva displayed pages of a pay list allegedly signed by local journalists who had covered the former mayor, Mario Valiente of the conservative Republican National Alliance.

``They are your colleagues,″ he told a gathering of reporters. ``With the permission of the (former) chief of the public relations unit, there was a group of journalists who religiously and month after month collected honorariums for services to the municipality.″

The practice is rumored to be widespread in El Salvador and several other countries in the region. Local reporters here refer to such financial sweeteners as ``mint.″

Silva released only seven names on the much longer list.

One of the journalists, Rosi Castillo, denied receiving such payments, but said the three radio stations of which she is president did have advertising contracts with the city.

``They are not going to buy me. I reject that I received mint,″ she said _ though she said such payments are common.

Silva said the journalists received about $46 a month. Most reporters in El Salvador normally earn from $250 to $400 a month.

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