Under the excuse of a labour conflict there’s a clear intention to put pressure on the newspaper, said Daniel Santoro national news editor of Argentina’s main daily Clarin, which was impeded from circulating Sunday by 12 hour-pickets that respond to the head of Argentina’s organized labour, Hugo Moyano.
“I was on my way to Ecuador for an investigative journalism seminar when I was informed from Buenos Aires that the newspaper Clarin, and La Nacion had not been able to circulate on Sunday because the teamsters union blocked distribution”, revealed Santoro, whom together with colleague Luciana Geuna are writing a series of pieces on the enrichment of Moyano and his family as well as the money route of a blocked bank account in Switzerland belonging to the president of Covelia, an urban sanitary company, Ricardo Deprebisteris who in 2005 was a simple union member making 2.000 US dollars a month but has a Swiss account with 1.8 million US dollars.
“Last Wednesday we sent a photographer and a member of the staff to one of Moyano’s country estates and other addresses we have, but they had problems with the private security guards and were turned back”, revealed Santoro.
Moyano’s son is head of the teamsters union and he is secretary general of Argentina’s powerful organized labour unions confederation, CGT.
In mid March the Argentine political system was shocked-frozen when a Swiss prosecutor requested judicial information to help with several unnamed accounts allegedly belonging to Argentines which showed most uncommon movements.
Santoro suspects that Moyano and his men fond out about the articles and decided to block the distribution of Clarin covering it up as if it was a labour conflict.
“It was my work and that of my colleagues that has been attacked under the coating of a conflict. Last week the teamsters’ press secretary Carlos Altamirano had warned he would send 10 to 20.000 trucks to block the newspaper because of the publication of news related to the personal accounts of Covelia in Switzerland”, underlined Santoro.
Members of the Argentine opposition strongly condemned the blocking of both newspapers by Moyano militants (although La Nacion was only picketed for four hours), which they claim had the ‘silent’ consent and blessing from the government of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.
“The blocking of the printing plants of La Nacion and Clarin was consented by the government which preferred to remain still”, said opposition Senator and presidential hopeful Ernesto Sanz.
“Beyond labour conflicts, it’s not acceptable that newspapers be impeded from circulating, infringing on the rights of all citizens, the right to be informed and to freedom of expression”, said Deputy Raul Alfonsin, another opposition presidential hopeful.
Former take-care president Eduardo Duhalde who opened the way for the Kirchner couple in 2003 and now is a declared antagonist said that the whole situation is “another slap to the media” which must be strongly rejected because it is a “new aggression to freedom of the press”.
Argentina’s Security Minister Nilda Garré down played the incident and said that political leaders who want to summon her to Congress to explain why the incident, are ‘irresponsible’.
“This is a long standing labour conflict and there have been several court rulings with force the corporation to re-incorporate the striking workers. The situation is complex and workers have adopted similar measures on several occasions, Sunday was another day of conflict”.
Ms Garré added that when her ministry was informed of the filing of a complaint by one of the group’s directors, “the federal police went to the place and the Judge requested a vehicle to determine how many people were protesting, their motives and identification”.
“Police action was exercised with prudence. There were also families, the only thing we could do was a dissuasion task”, said the Security minister.
Meantime opposition lawmakers filed a formal complaint before the Inter American Human Rights Court exposing organized labour’s, with government consent, infringement of basic rights: freedom of expression, freedom of the press, freedom to be informed.