A report by a journalism watchdog in Argentina shows a pattern of increasing aggressions against journalists, with both police and drug traffickers among those responsible for threats, a phenomenon that may be linked to the growth of violent organized crime in the country.
Foro de Periodismo Argentino’s (FOPEA) annual report on freedom of expression in Argentina found a near 13 percent increase in cases of aggression against journalists between 2012 and 2013, from 172 to 194 attacks. The 2013 total also represented a 49 percent increase on the 130 aggressions in 2008 — the year FOPEA began publishing its report.
The city of Buenos Aires had the most incidents in 2013 (41), followed by the provinces of Buenos Aires (20) and Cordoba (20). Overall, the most common cases were physical or psychological aggression (66) and harassment (33). Journalists received a total of 19 threats over the course of the year.
FOPEA cites police as responsible for 19 acts of aggression, making them the most common perpetrators after “unknown” and “other” attackers. There were also two aggressions attributed to the gendarmerie, one to the army and 12 to national public officials. Cases of aggression against the press by drug traffickers were documented in Rosario, Mendoza, Salta, and Cordoba.
InSight Crime Analysis
This general trend of increasing violence against journalists in Argentina over the past several years corresponds with a simultaneous surge in drug-related organized crime activity in the country. As the country has evolved into an operational point for major cartels, micro-trafficking by smaller drug gangs has led to violent struggles for control of drug turf and the emergence of increasingly sophisticated local structures.
SEE ALSO: Coverage of Argentina
Violent organized crime represents a serious danger to journalists, who may be targeted for the work they do, or even for their refusal to cover organized crime. Colombia and Mexico are two of the most often cited countries in this regard, but Brazil and Guatemala have also seen growing violence against journalists.
It is possible the rising number of attacks on Argentine journalists is similarly linked to the organized crime activity that has taken root and appears to be emulating the tactics of larger groups. One case this year provided a solid example of a criminal structure threatening journalists for publishing information on their organization.
The fact police and officials are responsible for some of the aggressions also could indicate they are corrupt and possibly colluding with criminals, and thus trying to protect themselves from any compromising investigations.