Moyano pickets block distribution of Argentina’s main dailies
Argentina’s main daily and the Spanish language newspaper with largest circulation, Clarin from Buenos Aires appeared Monday with a blank front page to protest organized labour pickets that blocked Sunday’s edition distribution for almost twelve hours.
The other Buenos Aires leading daily La Nacion, which suffered a similar coordinated attack by pickets that delayed Sunday’s distribution by four hours, in its main Monday heading claimed “inaction and silence from the administration of President Cristina Fernandez Kirchner” towards what it described as organized and accomplice “hooliganism”.
Clarin second front page then has a collection of opinions from politicians, business people, academia, intellectuals, show and sports personalities as well as a long list of international media reactions to the organized labour pickets that blocked distribution, adding that the government of Cristina Fernandez “did not take any action and minimized the episode”
A majority of those condemning the blockade on Clarin and La Nacion by newsprint workers and teamsters openly blamed Security Minister Nilda Garré and President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.
Leaders from all the political spectrum and dissidents from the ruling coalition (and with the exception of Mrs. Kirchner’s Victory Front), said the blockade was evidence of another attack by Argentina’s Executive branch against independent press and linked the blockade to Sunday editions’ information on the several corruption cases faced by organized labour’s leader Hugo Moyano, head of the all powerful Workers Confederation, CGT. Moyano through his family has direct control over teamsters.
Nevertheless there were some reactions from government: Interior Minister Florencio Randazzo said the situation “was no attack on freedom of the press”, but rather “a labour conflict”.
Clarin filed two reports in court against the pickets, one for obstructing free circulation of publications and interrupting media activity and another for having impeded access to the printing plant of the newspaper staff.
The pickets’ blockade by force specifically violates two court rulings which had ordered the Argentine government to impede such kind of actions.
The protest also comes in the framework of the increasing confrontation between Argentina’s main media corporations and the government of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner over a 2009 bill which is strongly rejected by the sector and the political opposition.
This is the fifth action of this kind suffered by both dailies since last November.
A union release distributed by Argentina’s official news agency Telam said that the measures are in response to “unions’ persecution by the Clarin group”, and promised industrial actions will continue.
The newspapers organization in Argentina also anticipated strong defensive measures against the violation of constitutional principles.
“We are going to consider possible measures and contact international media associations. What has happened is most serious and shows we have a government that is not acting or does not respect the rule of law. This is not against the financial interests of a corporation, we are defending the right to publish, to have citizens informed, freedom of expression”, said Daniel Dessai, head of Argentina’s Media Associations, ADEPA.