The conservative and influential Brazilian newspaper O Estado de Sao Paulo in an editorial described the Argentine government as an “austral democradura” (authoritarian regime) which is sponsoring legislation “to terrorize the media”.
The newspaper was referring to “anti-terrorism” legislation recently passed by the government of Cristina Fernandez intimidating the press and limiting access to newsprint.
“The Argentine government is making the exercise of freedom of the press extremely difficult with acts of intimidation which make honour to a dictatorial regime, a dictatorship couldn’t make it better” said O Estado de Sao Paulo.
Last week the Argentine congress passed two laws: one declaring of national interest the manufacturing, commerce and distribution of newsprint, and another describing series of crimes typified as ‘terrorists’.
The Media law which refers to all forms of journalism and signed by Cristina Fernandez gives the Argentine government control over Papel Prensa, the only newsprint manufacturer in Argentina, thus exposing newspapers to the ‘whims’ of Government House, Casa Rosada, points out the Sao Paulo daily.
The second bill describes as a terrorist crime those acts committed with the purpose of “terrorizing” the population. According to O Estado de Sao Paulo this measure will enable Casa Rosada to consider “terrorist” any news or comment which whoever sits at Government House would not like to be released from corruption claims in government dealings and bids to serious misbalances in government budget figures”.
“This second “liberticide” was more ingenious, an anti terrorist bill to terrorize journalism and the media. The government could appeal to that bill when a run on the banks, financial speculation or any bit of news the Casa Rosada dislikes. A dictatorship couldn’t have done it better”.
The conservative daily and which opposes the Brazilian Workers Party ruling coalition argues that control of the press was the only “obstacle” left for the government of Cristina Fernandez to “convert” her country into an austral version of “democcradura” (authoritarian or ‘strong’ democracy), Chavez style”.
The Argentine Media bill was also criticized last week by the Brazilian Association of Newspapers (ANJ) which described it as “of extreme concern” and a threat to “freedom of the press”.