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Cablegate: Mas Proposes Press Ombudsman

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P 241733Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY LA PAZ
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INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 6723
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UNCLAS LA PAZ 001127

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM BL
SUBJECT: MAS PROPOSES PRESS OMBUDSMAN


1. (U) A Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) Constituent
Assembly member has proposed expanding the responsibilities
of Bolivia's human rights ombudsman or creating a new "press
ombudsman" to hear citizen complaints regarding the press.
Reactions to the proposal were mixed. Former journalist and
Bolivia's first human rights ombudsman Ana Maria Campero
argued that the proposal has some merit, but is "very
delicate and should be debated thoroughly with press
organizations." Current human rights ombudsman Waldo
Albarracin responded to the proposal by stating that there
are laws and norms in place to prevent unethical journalism,
but that they have rarely been exercised. Press
associations, in turn have generally rejected the proposal.
The president of the La Paz Association of Journalists said
that the measure poses a "threat to free speech." Meanwhile,
the executive of the Confederation of the Press Workers (a
labor union) has taken a wait-and-see attitude, stating that
it had not seen a copy of the proposal, but that it should be
reviewed rationally and calmly.

-------
Comment
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2. (SBU) Many within the Bolivian press recognize that the
industry suffers from a lack of professionalism. Recently,
the press instituted its own self-regulating body to handle
cases of unethical reporting. However, President Morales'
rhetorical hostility to the mainstream media, the launching
of a Venezuelan-financed radio network, and the GOB's
restriction on advertising dollars to what it considers
opposition media outlets make many journalists leery of any
new MAS proposals to "improve" the press.
GOLDBERG

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