With every passing year, Latin American media confront more restrictions on their freedom. While outright state censorship has declined since democratization (though intimidation by private groups such as the Mexican drug cartels has grown), governments are increasingly influencing which stories are reported and how they are covered. This worrisome trend is the subject of The Price of Silence: The Growing Threat of Soft Censorship, an August 2008 report released by the Open Society Justice Initiative and the Buenos Aires-based Asociación por los Derechos Civiles. Available in English and Spanish, the 200-page study uses research conducted from January to October 2007 in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Honduras, Peru, and Uruguay to reveal how governments, especially at the local level, use advertising placement as a carrot to secure favorable news coverage. Peru officially bans such tactics—the only country of those studied to do so—but the law has not been enforced. “Countries appear to be more democratic, but soft censorship is less visible and more insidious,” says Justice Initiative legal officer Darian Pavli.
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