February 01, 2007

Reporter Without Borders' 2007 Report on Bolivia's Freedom of the Press

MABB © ®

Reporters Without Borders (RSF for its French name) released its 2007 Annual Report on freedom of Press. In its Americas chapter, it says that Bolivia ended up on top of the list with 'only' 13 attacks reported against reporters. The report says:
Though it came top among southern hemisphere countries in the 2006 worldwide press freedom index, Bolivia once more plunged into crisis in the last quarter of the year. Evo Morales, who took office in early 2006 as the country’s first indigenous president, now faces the threat of secession by four provinces. The media was the first target of the struggle between government and opposition. As happened in Venezuela, the gap between state and privately-owned media has widened and a “media war” may erupt.Two fire-bombs damaged the pro-government TV station Canal 7 in the opposition-controlled city of Santa Cruz.

The Bolivia chapter highlights the good standing of Bolivia, and the uncertainty about the future since the political crisis is more likely to continue. However, one paragraph makes me doubt about the carefulness and accuracy of the report. I mean, I would expect that RSF had reporters in Bolivia writing about Bolivia. People who are informed about what is going on. But it doesn't seem that way. The following paragraph states a widely circulated speculation, by the mainstream media I might add, as a fact:
The opposition governs four of the country’s nine provinces and has threatened secession, staged demonstrations and attacked state-owned media.

Ok, it's just a word, some might say. I would agree, but the difference is that it is a BIG word. I don't remember any time when the opposition in Santa Cruz threatened with secession. In no way, shape or form, did I hear or read anything reporting that the people in Santa Cruz wanted to secede. And here again I have to grant critics that the word did circulated around in the press and that some leaders of the opposition did not deny the possibility. However, that is far from being an official threat. And please, I am not defending the opposition in Santa Cruz. I am merely pointing out to the carelessness of, ironically, the reporters who wrote this paper. Coming from the Reporters Without Borders group, I had expected much better.