Journalists or media owners who are investigating cases of government corruption or abuse may be
harassed, intimidated, slandered, or they may receive death threats. According to the Institute for
Press and Society (IPYS) which has set up an emergency network for journalists, 108 complaints
were received between November 1998 and February 2000. Of the complaints, 33 concerned
defamation, 22 involved verbal or physical aggression including death threats, 14 involved direct
censorship and the closure of news programs or radio stations, seven involved sabotage attacks, eight
involved judicial harassment and prosecution, five involved harassment by the police or armed
forces, two kidnappings and two murder attempts (IPYS, 2000).
Journalists and media owners are prosecuted by judicial authorities to thwart their investigations
(e.g., Enrique Zileri of Caretas; Genero Delgado Parker, owner of Channel 13; Radio Senorial in
Huancayo; Guillermo Gonzales of Prensa Libre; and Radio Libertad in Trujillo). Baruch Ichver,
majority owner of Channel 2, had his Peruvian citizenship revoked and ownership taken away, under
laws that require majority national ownership of television stations.
Media owners, most of whom are heavily indebted to the state for back taxes, are selectively
threatened with sanctions by tax authorities.
Advertisers are dissuaded by Fujimori loyalists from advertising in independent media.
Media in the Provinces
Reportedly, greater media freedom exists outside of the capital. Nevertheless, when a controversial issue
arises, media outlets in Peru's provinces may be equally if not more vulnerable. Of the 108 complaints
received through the IPYS emergency network for journalists, 105 came from the provincial journalists.
IPYS noted a recent trend of harassing provincial radio stations to prevent opposition candidate access to
Although there are reportedly 120 television stations operating outside of Lima (over 40 of which
participate in a USAID sponsored civic education network), many of them are also financially
vulnerable. In addition, they have to compete with Lima media for scarce advertising revenues. Hence,
the provincial media may be subject to intimidation. Nonetheless, some of the more stable and relatively
free media throughout the country are community radio stations that are controlled by churches. These
simple, relatively inexpensive operations are allowed greater freedom of expression, given their
affiliation with churches.
In summary, private media engage in significant self censorship, and are subject to outright political
harassment. For many mass media owners, their immediate financial interests are so pressing that they
are forced to sacrifice their commitment to critical news reporting. Although these conditions have been
exacerbated under the current election campaign, prominent journalists, media watchdog organizations,
and media owners believed that the current restrictions on freedom of expression are unlikely to improve
in the post electoral environment. It is generally perceived that the present restrictions work to the
advantage of the Executive, so even a new President may not willingly relinquish such a powerful force
for shaping public opinion.
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