"Your organization - IAPA - does more harm than good to press freedom" Addendum to the Narco News White Paper on Media and Press Freedom in Venezuela An Open Letter to Robert J. Cox of the Inter-American Press Association July 29, 2002
Mr. Robert J. Cox, assistant editor, the Post and Courier, South Carolina,
President, Inter-American Press Association
Jules Dubois Building
1801 S.W. 3rd Avenue
Miami, Florida 33129
Tel: (305) 634-2465
Fax: (305) 635-2272
CC: firstname.lastname@example.org, Julio E. Muñoz, executive director, email@example.com, Richard Trotti, Freedom of Press Simulator, firstname.lastname@example.org
CC: Immedia Working Group, email@example.com
Dear Mr. Cox,
My name is Al Giordano. I have been a professional journalist since 1988 and today I write you in my capacity as publisher of The Narco News Bulletin - www.narconews.com -- an online newspaper that reports on the drug war and democracy from Latin America.
It was our publication that, in December 2001, won the landmark New York Supreme Court ruling that extended First Amendment rights under Sullivan v. NY Times to Internet journalists. A copy of that decision can be read online at the website of the Electronic Frontier Foundation:
Today, Narco News, together with colleagues in authentic journalism and independent media, has launched an international dialogue about the role of "press freedom" organizations. We are focusing on the three such organizations with the largest budgets: the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders and your own Miami-based Inter-American Press Association.
The catalyst for this international dialogue, which we have begun on our own website as well as through the www.indymedia.org networks and others, was our recent fact-finding mission to Venezuela, where we encountered a very different set of circumstances and facts than those described by the Inter-American Press Association's statements regarding events in Venezuela.
In fact, we found that an entire class of journalists in Venezuela is under attack and has been left undefended by your organization and the other large-budget "press freedom" organizations: the journalists of the Community Media, particularly those from the 25 non-profit TV and radio stations that were legalized under Venezuela's Bolivarian Constitution of 1999 and the Telecommunications Law of 2001.
Specifically, we bring your attention to the grave matter of the unjust imprisonment by rogue police forces (the same ones that participated in the April 2002 coup attempt in that country) of three important and respected radio journalists: Nicolás Rivera of Radio Perola, and Jorge Quintero and Lenín Méndez of Radio Senderos, both non-profit Community Broadcasters in the greater Caracas area.
We also bring your attention to serious threats against these journalists and others like them that have come not from governmental institutions, but, rather, from commercial media institutions.
Specifically, this threat has been executed by Miguel Angel Martínez, the president of the private-sector Chamber of Radio Broadcasters who recently called upon his organization's affiliates to "interfere" with the frequencies of the Community Media outlets during the next coup d'etat attempt in Venezuela (Mr. Martínez was a co-signer, last April 12th, with the military-installed dictator Pedro Carmona, of the decree that abolished the national Congress, the Supreme Court and the Constitution in Venezuela.)
Today, we published Part I of a series reported from Venezuela that contains more details on the current situation and the threats against journalists:
I would have written you a longer letter, Mr. Cox, as I have to the Committee to Protect Journalists and to Reporters Without Borders, but, the fact is that your statements during and after the attempted coup d'etat in Venezuela were so knowingly dishonest that it is clear your position is directly opposed to - not in favor of - the cause of press freedom.
It is unfortunate, but for those of us who really are journalists working in the field - and not in the corporate boardroom or management of newspapers - your organization's deeds do more harm than good to our freedom of the press.
Your organization is nothing more than a lobbying group for the owners of a commercial industry - newspapers - and the IAPA's cynical use of the "press freedom" issue is only wielded to expand the economic and political powers of the owners of commercial media, abusive powers that are increasingly in conflict with the free expression rights of working journalists and of a majority of members of the public.
Your organization, the Inter-American Press Association, is a fraud.
However, because even con artists like you deserve the right to respond to reports in the media, I do offer you and IAPA full and uncensored opportunity to respond on our pages to our series on the media in Venezuela, particularly to our characterizations here and there - and in the future - regarding the activities of your fraudulent special interest group that poses as a "press freedom" organization.
May you and the Inter-American Press Association stop pretending to be something you are not: a "press freedom" organization.
From now on, each time that you claim to be what you are not, the authentic journalists - because you do not represent us - will be here to remind the public of what you truly are: a simulator.
From Miami to Tijuana, you will be challenged as you are challenged today with speech.
That is all, Mr. Cox.
The Narco News Bulletin
Read Part I of This Series
Lea Ud. Parte I en Español
Read Our Letter to the Committee to Protect Journalists
Read Our Letter to Reporters Without Borders
For More Narco News, Click Here
Calling a Fraud a Fraud