Recent attacks on radio stations in Argentina

Thursday, October 27, 2011

His Excellency Arturo Guillermo Bothamley, Ambassador to Canada
Embassy of the Argentine Republic
81 Metcalfe Street, 7th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1P 6K7

Dear Ambassador,

I am writing on behalf of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), a non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to promote and protect press freedom and freedom of expression around the world.

CJFE is deeply concerned about the recent violent attacks on radio stations in Argentina, as reported by the Buenos Aires based organization FOPEA. On September 10, two individuals locked the employees of FM Pajsachama in their El Retiro offices and inflicted severe damage to the station’s equipment, resulting in the station going off the air for 10 days. On September 30, the 93.3 FM station in Zarate was destroyed completely after it was set on fire. In addition, the broadcaster Norte Visión Satelital has been vandalised twice—on September 15, the broadcast cabin was set on fire causing a four-hour broadcast shutdown, while on October 3, the radio station’s antenna was knocked down. The antenna’s destruction ultimately resulted in 15 stations going off the air.

Given their serious nature and frequency, we are concerned that such attacks are creating a hostile environment for radio journalists in Argentina, which may lead to their self-censorship. Without a thorough investigation of these attacks against the media, they pose a serious threat to freedom of expression and an independent press, components that are vital for the proper functioning of democracy.

CJFE urges the Argentinean government to prioritize the investigation of these attacks and shed light on the incidents in order to avoid an attitude of impunity towards the perpetrators and to secure the safety of its journalists.

We thank you for your attention and I look forward to your reply.

Yours Sincerely,

Arnold Amber, CJFE President

Cc: Ms. Gwyneth Kutz, Ambassador of Canada to Argentina;
The Honourable John Baird, P.C., M.P., Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs