Caribbean media group warns of subtle threats to democracy

GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala, Friday November 23, 2012 – The Association of Caribbean MediaWorkers (ACM) Friday said the challenges faced by Latin American countries are similar to those in the English speaking Caribbean.

The Latin American/Caribbean Alliance of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) has launched a report on the incidence of impunity against journalists and other communicators in Guatemala City in the presence of the country’s Vice President, former broadcast journalist Roxana Baldetti.

The Report includes a section on recent events in the Caribbean prepared by the ACM and highlights the plight of Guyanese newspaper columnist, Freddie Kissoon.

“Today, we are happy to share our collective experiences as people concerned that in our part of the world, impunity continues to be an enduring part of our reality. Whether expressed in some places as disregard for human life or in others as disregard for human liberty, we share the common conviction that this threat must end,” ACM president Wesley Gibbings told a news conference.

In a statement to mark International Day to End Impunity, Gibbings, who is also a member of the IFEX Council, said while the Caribbean has a “long tradition of parliamentary democracy, relative political peace and general stability” there is also the “silent, creeping spectre of impunity and the shaky legs of our democratic systems.

“The threats to our freedoms come in subtle shades of grey and soft tones dressed in the promise of development. Self-censorship is the preferred option. People lose jobs and livelihoods and not their lives.

“The media face the silent punishment of advertising boycotts and a growing tendency to match social and economic turmoil with regulatory coercion. Voices of dissent are not muted but are drowned out by the noise of official clamour and rage,’ Gibbings told reporters.

He said that the Caribbean’s contribution to the report we have brought as IFEX-ALC makes for relatively different reading that the other submissions.

“But do not believe that the silence the many threats bring are any different. Through this understanding, we have much to learn from each other and our different challenges bear the same burden.

“Through partnership, the promise of change is strengthened. Through sharing,  the struggle much easier to engage,” he added. (CMC) Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)