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American Imperialism and the Inter American Press Association (IAPA)

Alex Constantine - April 17, 2008

iapa - American Imperialism and the Inter American Press Association (IAPA)The IAPA lords
ABN 28/03/2008

Caracas, March 26 ABN.- The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) is a cartel of the great owners of the continent's mass media, which began on the framework of the Second World War and then took shape at the warm of the Cold War in order to lead a history of defense of oligopolistic interests, alliance with imperial powers and attempts against the sovereignty of the Latin American nations.

The IAPA action, then, is duly documented and has been based upon the use of destabilizing schemes which, when being successful, have been repeated and still today are repeated in the whole Latin American region. In these pages we resume some examples, studied by Latin American journalists, regarding how the owners of the media have implemented a tradition of pressure against democratic governments, with fatal results.

We present here the origins of the employer's organization and its early liaison with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Besides, punctual cases of development of black propaganda on behalf of the IAPA against the governments which have promoted the freedom and progress of their nations, contrary to the silence and complicity showed with the dictatorial regimes of thee region, even concealing the imprisoning and murdering of journalists.

Finally, we will try to explain the manipulations permitted by the IAPA, not only to continue usurping the representation of journalism in the region but also to assume the rights which correspond to the social organizations instead to a group of powerful media owners. For it, we have counted with the orientation of trustworthy Latin American journalists who have fought for unmasking the media power and have denounced the depravity of the IAPA performance, which made the great press turn its back the nations.

We expect this to be a contribution, among many others, for the development of the needed critic conscience against the manipulations and misinformations of the press lords.

The IAPA and imperial Pan-Americanism

The origin of the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) should be found in the concept of Pan-Americanism. Not in the Bolivarian Pan-Americanism of the Congress of Panama, but in the imperial Pan-Americanism instead.

During the first Pan-American conference, held in the United States in 1889, was shaped an instrument oriented to organize meetings of governments aiming, according to its creators, to give an incentive to communication and collaboration among the countries in conditions of equality. However, these meetings actually answered to the US concern of drawing the manifestations of imperial control, linked to the domestic oligarchies.

This Pan-Americanism, in fact, is understood as a continuation of the famous Monroe Doctrine in 1823, imposed under the slogan of "America for Americans", through which the United States declared to not allow any not American power inside the continent.

Under such ideological sign took place these conference in different countries of the region, and in 1923, at the 5^th Pan-American Conference in Santiago de Chile, was stated the necessity of organizing a meeting about press.

This first conference about the press was finally carried out in Washington, three years later, and even when the IAPA official historians insist in pointing that it was all about a congress of journalists, it was essentially a meeting of entrepreneurs. This is remarked by researcher Juan Gargurevich in his book /A Golpe de Titular. CIA y Periodismo en America Latina/, when affirming that it had been the first time that so many owners of Latin American journals met. “It is worth mentioning that the issues tackled by the different tables (at the conference) did not include the problems of journalists themselves. North Americans were interested on employers, not in employees,” writes Gargurevich.

After this initial conference, the meetings continued to be held in different countries, without setting the creation of the organization, until 1943, in La Habana, when finally took place the conference in which the IAPA was founded.

At that moment, Cuba was governed by the tyrant Fulgencio Batista. The planet was shocked by the Second World War, and the United States and the Soviet Union were joining to defeat the fascism. This historical climate, permeated by the existence of an anti-fascist front, allows that at the foundation of the IAPA some progressive and leftist publications get included, in a minority way though, among them the press voice of the Cuban Communist Party, /Noticias de Hoy/, founded in 1938.

Since that first IAPA meeting, the minority progressive voices tried to boost the unity of press workers in the region and assumed the role of criticizers against the role played in Latin America by the great agencies of news, which performed as repeaters of the imperial message.

However, the history changed at the end of the war. By 1947, the Cold War began and confronted the former allies –the United States and the Soviet Union–, McCarthyism took shape in the United States and that same year is created the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), event that played an essential role on what the Cuban journalist Ernesto Vera calls the CIA-IAPA blow[1].

This blow takes place in 1950 and was promoted a year before in Quito, at the V Inter American Congress of Press, on behalf of the US delegation, which was made by three key characters: a representative from the Department of State, Tom Wallace, and two high rank officials from the CIA, Joshua Powers and Jules Dubois. The trio was apparently headed by Wallace, but actually the main character, as it will be proved, was always Dubois, who coordinated during 15 years after the CIA-IAPA labor in Latin America.

This trio suggested in Quito that the following IAPA meeting should take place in the United States because the previous encounters had been hosted in Latin American capitals: Mexico, La Habana, Caracas, Bogota and Quito. A group of Latin Americans, among them Peruvian journalist Genaro Carnero Checa, spoke against the idea of electing the United States as host country, affirming that racial and political discrimination did not ensure the needed guarantees to hold a Congress in there.

The US delegation, after admitting that discrimination in its country was clammy, committed to guarantee the security for the participation of all the delegates, with the independence over their political ideas. Finally, the proposal dominated and it was approved that the following meeting would take place in New York.

Back to the United States, Wallace handed in a report to the Department of State, titled "Background of previous Inter American Press Meeting", in which the operation was uncover. In this document, Wallace stressed that the US delegation had achieved the success on the objectives stated at the Quito meeting: working for a new constitution of the original organization and achieveing that the following meeting would take place on US land, under the private sponsoring of US publications.

"We succeeded on both objectives without needing to cause the creation of another split organization, and letting uncover that the US press had had to cause it for being unable to control the organization", explained Wallace to his chiefs at the report quoted by Gargurevich. Thus, the kidnap of the organi
zation had began to develop.

The treasurer's stories

According to the official story of the IAPA, 1950 was the "most important year for the organization". It was precisely in that year when the IAPA was refounded and was conformed as we know it now, without the participation of the few progressive publications which had initially been included at the Society. Since that year, the CIA objectives for the operation of the IAPA in Latin America were made clear.

Despite the guarantees offered in Quito, the representatives of the progressive press organizations were not invited to the meeting of that VI Inter American Congress of Press. To some of them, the visa to enter the United States was denied under the accusation of being communists. When they complained before the organizers, Wallace ignored them, saying that the visa had been denied by the Government and so they should complain before the Government.

There were others who made to arrive to the Idlewild Airport, just to be detained and made to turn back by the US authorities, following an FBI interrogation. Such was the case of the Cuban Carlos Rafael Rodriguez, who represented the journal /Noticias de Hoy/, but was also the IAPA treasurer, reelected by the third time in a roll and for that reason traveled with a special passport.

In a narration about this event, titled /Crónica de un New York entrevisto/ (Chronicle of a glimpsed New York), Rodriguez explains how he was arrested in Ellis Island; branded a dangerous person due to his ideology; considered 'inadmissible' in the United States; ignored by the organizing committee of the congress; and placed by the FBI at a Venezuelan airline which would turn him back to Cuba. In such chronicle, Rodriguez described with details the reasons why the solicitors of the new IAPA were not interested on his attendance tot he conference.

«Why was I excluded from the Congress?

«It was very well known that I was going to New York to denounce all the cases of violation to the freedom of press in America. The North American organizers, working under the dictate of Washington, wanted to condemn only a group, charging the hand of those governments which do not have the approval of the Department of State. In my opinion, Videla is equal to Peron, and the Venezuelan Military Junta is not less guilty than Prio.

«In second place, it was dread –and it was fine they dread– that I would use the tribune of the Congress to protest against the shameful interference of the US ambassador to Mexico, Mr. Thurton, on the Mexican freedom of press, to which he intended to dictate a policy of submission to the Washington's interests.

«These facts have been denounced by the enlightened journalist Martin Luis Guzman and by more than sixty Mexican writers.

«Finally, they did not want me to put into debate the thesis maintained in Quito, the 'freedom of press' in the United States is nothing but a formality. At the core of the matter, the North American press is a monopolist instrument of the big companies.

«These are the conclusions taken since 1947 by a commission of specialists named by the University of Chicago and paid by the extremely conservative Henry R. Luce, from Time magazine, and by the Encyclopedia Britannica. When I said these things in Quito, Mr. Tom Wallace –who led the Congress of New York– answered angrily that those who would say that were "a bunch of fools". That way he described no one but Robert Hutchins, Minister from the University of Chicago; Archibald Mc Leish, Undersecretary of State; professor of Economics in Columbia, John M. Clark; professor Arthur M. Schlesinger, from Harvard; and other known Yankee specialists. But, as I answered back to Mr. Wallace, you may think that university researchers are 'fools'; however, though we know there are a very great amount of fools at the US Senate, they are not enough to form the majority. And it was the majority which, in a report of the Small Plants Committee, proved that real monopolies dominated the American press.

«In order to hinder that these ideas would be stated, I was retained in Ellis Island. But the Yankee organizers also had an additional purpose. They expected to give –and they gave– a coup. They illegally reformed the IAPA's statutes. They established –arbitrarily– the vote by publications, giving an artificial North American majority. They snatched to Cuba the permanent venue of the Society in order to situate it in New York. They destroyed, summarizing, the Inter American Society of Press as independent organization, turned it into a simple political instrument at the service of the US international objectives. To achieve this, the presence of some delegates resulted disturbing. I resulted especially undesirable. (Rodriguez, 1950).»

In fact, before the conference in 1950, the IAPA statutes stipulated that each country had a vote into the association, indistinctly of the quantity of affiliated press organizations. The change on the statutes allowed to bring down the scheme 'one country, one vote' and substitute it by 'each publication, one vote'.

In an attempt to disguise this coup, the official history of the IAPA indicates that until that year the conferences of the organization took place under the sponsorship of the host country's government, so the delegations limited to sit down and vote by country, and the members not always were journalists. According to the official speech, this decision of modifying the statutes was taken to avoid these "patronage" and to become "independent". However, the truth is that in the practice the United States went from one vote to 424, and gained majority[2]. It implies that those 424 votes make up 'the small group of journal editors and directors' from the United States who had added up to the IAPA in 1946, according to the official historians of the company.

For that reason Vera, at a recent interview, insists in that since 1950 until now exists a freedom of press kidnapped by the power of money and logically upon the base of an imperial strategy: 'That is why I say there is an organized lie and a scattered true. Exists an organized lie because exists an imperialist strategy and it does not exist an organized true because we still do not have an anti-imperialist strategy. That works in detail.'

Reliable voices against the IAPA

The CIA-IAPA blow caused unrest in Latin America. While the IAPA repeated that it represented journalists, the organization's profile became every time more evident, formed by the great conservative print media of the region –clearly in favor of the US– and oriented by the imperialist and businesslike interests, not journalistic.

This unrest developed in Latin America was showed up at the following conference, held in 1951 at Montevideo, Uruguay, where representatives from the host country, Brazil, Chile, Peru and Argentina declared to leave the IAPA and endorsed the Montevideo Act, in which they denounced that the owners of the media had assumed the function of determining where existed or not freedom of press, when that right corresponds, besides to society, to journalists.

After declaring against the kidnap, the Montevideo Act indicated that it was necessary the beginning of an organization which really join the journalist's associations, in order to avoid that its functions were usurped by the owners of the great medias[3].

On his book/ Breve historia de la SIP /(Brief history of the IAPA)[4], journalist Gregorio Selser records, among the voices who talked against the IAPA in 1951, the Venezuelan writer and journalist Miguel Otero Silva, owner of /El Nacional/ journal from Caracas. On that occasion, Otero Silva complained that the change on the statutes approved in New York infringed the more basic norms of the organization, “giving to it the nature it now has: an exc
lusively employers' organization of trade, strictly controlled by paper's sellers, news agencies and advertisers residents in the United States. Nothing less inappropriate in that environment than a journalist.”

Otero Silva also denounced as biased a IAPA report in which “while dedicating 80 or 90 per cent of its content to count in detail the abuses committed by Peron against the freedom of press, a blanket was streched upon the Latin American dictatorships.”

In that same report, continued Otero Silva, appeared the Nicaraguan tyrant Anastasio Somoza “as a tutelary angel of the freedom of thought” and placed as archetypes of democracy the Chilean Gonzalez Videla and the Bolivian dictators. Meanwhile, “it was shameful to see in that assembly of Montevideo the thug intellectuals of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo bellowing in the rostrum that Peron was a tyrant and that in his country, on the contrary, they enjoyed a complete freedom of thought,” affirmed angrily the Venezuelan writer.

In Selser's book, quoted by journalist Jose Steinsleger, appears another testimony of denounce against the IAPA, coming from its own members. According to Selser, in 1958 one of the former IAPA presidents, the Mexican Miguel Lanz Duret (1909-1959), director of /El Universal/, quit the organization when he knew that the IAPA had requested to register as a corporation established in Dover, United States. With this action, in the opinion of Lanz Duret, “the IAPA would depend, to all legal effects, on the US laws, rejecting this way its alleged independence and discrediting in facts the advisable extraterritorial nature granted, for instance, by a mobile yearly host, different from the US.”

More recently, in 2000, a similar position had to be adopted by the Uruguayan journal /La Republica/ and the /Posdata/ magazine, which made public its resignation to the employer's organization after knowing that the former press director of the military dictatorship in that country (1973-1985), Danilo Arbilla, had been named president of the IAPA.

The letter of resignation to the IAPA, undersigned by the director of /La Republica/, Federico Fasano Mertens, and dated on October 24^th 2000, claimed that naming Arbilla as president of an organization which had among its main declared objectives "to defend the freedom of press" constituted an insult to the democratic conscience of the American people. "His appointment before an organism which intends to watch over the freedom of press is equivalent to designate the fox to take care of the hen-coop. Because of all the above-mentioned, /La Republica/ journal has the high honor of resigning, formal and publicly, as member of this Association while the impostor is at the front," concluded the letter.

My friends, the dictators

As the Cuban journalist Ernesto Vera says, media terrorism has plenty of expressions. Though the majority of times it is expressed under the action of the IAPA and its members, not in a few occasions it is expressed in omission. The IAPA silences are equally eloquent, especially when those cover its alliances with dictatorial regimes.

In 2005, this denounced former president of the IAPA, Danilo Arbilla, acted against the government of then president Nestor Kirchner, to whom he charged of "handling advertisement in a selective way" and "treating with lack of consideration" the media. Kirchner then recalled Arbilla's record and recalled as well to vice chairman of the Argentinean journal /La Nacion/, Claudio Escribano, his indulgence to the atrocities committed in Argentina during the military dictatorship in that country.

That link of the great press' owners with the Latin American dictatorial regimes has been documented enough and quoted in several occasions to prove that the IAPA concerns are not aimed to the defense of freedoms but to the preservation of corporate and oligarchic interests.

In Arbilla's case, he had been press secretary during the last military dictatorship in Uruguay, in which Uruguayan citizens were tortured and murdered. According to the Uruguayan journal /La Republica/, Arbilla was designated for the post by president Juan Maria Bordaberry and continued holding it after the president eliminated the republican institutions with military support, and even after the dictatorship was fully established.

Thus, the above-mentioned journal recalls that Arbilla was also accessory of the presidential decree on June 27^th 1973, which clearly banned the press of spreading any kind of information that "direct or indirectly mentioned or referred to the issues stated on that decree, giving dictatorial purposes to the Administration or might disrupt the stillness and the order". Under his administration between 1973 and 1976, 173 news media were closed –14 of these closings were definitive– and it was seized the Uruguayan Association of Press (APU, for Spanish), the unionist organization of journalists. The undersecretary of the weekly magazine /Marcha/, Julio Castro, also disappeared and tens of journalists were imprisoned and tortured.

A similar character, Dominican German Ornés, president of the IAPA Freedom of Press Committee, who worriedly addressed letters to the Chilean president Salvador Allende due to fake infringement to the freedom of press. This same Ornés was marked by researchers of different nationalities by performing like a flatterer to the dictator in the Dominican Republic, Rafael Leonidas Trujillo.

Another example of the IAPA performance before dictatorships can be found on its denunciations in 1974, when according to the employer's organization the worst enemy of freedom of press in the continent was the Peruvian nationalist government of Juan Velasco Alvarado because of the measures of expropriation to the great press. Meanwhile, the brutal repression and gagging in the dictatorships of Chile, Argentina and Uruguay remained practically ignored by the lord of the press.

The IAPA blows

Parallel to its link with dictatorial governments, the history of the American great press cartel records a certain number of aggressions against the constitutionally constituted governments, in equal terms to the imperialist interests in the region. Thus, Garguverich stresses the soon conformation of an axis among the CIA, the IAPA and agencies of news as part of the structure of US domination, making a powerful instrument for the destabilizing plans in Latin America[5].

Perhaps the most symbolic case of the destabilizing action of the IAPA has been the dirty campaign against the government of Salvador Allende in Chile, who was overthrown in 1973 due to the combination of Chilean reactionary forces and the CIA, since the implementation of a strong psychological war.

Chilean journalist Hernan Uribe affirms that along the whole history of Chile, there was no period in which dominated a freedom of information that even fell into debauchery and in clear violations to professional ethics as in Allende's term in office. President Allende himself, in 1970, declared to /Prensa Latina/ agency that his government would favor unlimited freedom of press, but would also favor that all the social agents and ideological trends had access to opinion.

"Currently, those rights were officially established, but its practice appears restricted to the minor sectors which had a prominent situation from the financial point of view," expressed Allende, according the also journalist Ernesto Carmona. His words, obviously, would not please the media magnates. Even less when Allende pointed towards a main topic, indicating that the media in capitalist regimes turned not in instruments of information, but in instruments of misinformations of the people's interests.

Oriented by the CIA, the Chilean opponent media, headed by the journal /El Mercurio/, could not answer Allende's request of informing with
objectivity and to maintain with nobility their points of view. On the contrary, they devoted to spread lies and to try to give an image of persecution to the press, adding fuel to the fire in which they would cook Pinochet's dictatorship. For that reason, Allende claimed, on February 12^th 1973, "We are obliged to point out the lack of moral authority and the distorted interest of those who shelter on the Inter American Press Association. We are not concerned about the critics. We not only accept it, we also claim for it."

Uribe also stresses that it was also the CIA the responsible for directing the great Chilean press and the IAPA members in a campaign of black propaganda against Allende, fact proved by unclassified documents in the United States. On this context, the journal /El Mercurio/, property of Agustin Edwards, who performed as the IAPA vice president, received enough dollars for his campaign against Allende, and he even stopped circulating for a day, pleading threats “in order to form a misinformation scandal which claimed 'for the closing' of /El Mercurio/.”

In accordance with this Chilean journalist, the lies were in such a way that the campaign denounced that the press would be assaulted cutting the supply of paper, when the truth was that the government had no relation with the business of the paper because the monopolistic producer of that instrument was a private company.

On the research carried out by Gargurevich is proved that this campaign of destabilization at the Chile of Allende included the deterioration on the image of the /Unidad Popular/ (People's Union) government, internal and externally as well. That 'external front' was made by the journals member of the IAPA. The news were written by the CIA, spread by the great agencies and published by the IAPA members.

The IAPA got even to meet in Santiago de Chile on October 1972, meeting to which Allende did not rejected even though the opposition of different Chilean sectors, which foresaw the intentions of the organization. That meeting, in which was 'defended the freedom of press' again, had, of course, a wide media coverage.

The work of the IAPA and its members on the overthrowing of Guatemalan president Jacobo Arbenz, which occurred in 1954, has also been revealed by CIA documents, unclassified in 1999 and collected on the book /La CIA en Uruguay /(The CIA in Uruguay), from the historian Roberto Garcia[6].

The historical research made by Garcia proves that the priorities in the advertising established by the CIA against Arbenz were immediately expressed by the right-wing press in Uruguay. Media as /El País/ and /El Dia/ published editorials about the 'communist infiltration' made by the CIA, even with the errors of the translation from the English language and barefacedly stressed by both journals with only one day of difference.

The proofs can be found in documents like "CIA, Guatemala-General Plan of Action" (Doc. Nº 135875, November 12^th 1953), which establishes the essential contents of the continental misinformation plan against Arbenz; and 'CIA, Hemisphere Support of Pbsuccess' (Doc. Nº 913376, February 16^th 1954), which described the support in the hemisphere for the misinformation plan.

All this operation was headed by the never missing IAPA denounce about the violations to the freedom of press in Guatemela. On its official publication Press of the Ameritas (Nº 25, Vol. 1, March 1^st 1954), the IAPA supported its concerns on a press conference offered by Jules Dubois, president of the IAPA Freedom of Press Committee, after president Arbenz warned that the press was fostering a foreign intervention on his country.

Likewise, Gargurevich established on his research the similarities between the operation carried out to overthrow Allende in Chile with the campaign that achieved the defeat of the prime minister from Jamaica, Michael Manley, at the elections of October 1980, which were charged of fraudulent. Manley had been pointed by the United States as turning to communism –with all it meant on the context of the Cold War– after establishing the diplomatic relations with Cuba, joining the Non-Aligned Movement, raising the tax to transnational companies and declaring that his country was oriented towards a democratic socialism.

In this case, the role performed by /El Mercurio/ in Chile was granted to The Daily Gleaner, which in 1979 was charged by the Press Association in Jamaica of assuming a non professional behavior, and which savage campaign against Manley's government was widely spread by the journals associated to the IAPA.

It is as well known the link CIA-great media against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua, denounced in 1981 by Nicaraguan journalists; and, in general, against the nationalist, socialist, progressive governments in the region which take measures that might affect the interests of the local and US oligarchies.

The black propaganda continues

After proving with success these schemes of black propaganda against democratic and people's governments, the axis CIA-IAPA continues to apply it in Latin America. Its obvious use can be found in the case of Cuba; Argentina, with the administration of Nestor Kirchner and Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner; Bolivia, with Evo Morales' administration; Ecuador, with president Rafael Correa; and Venezuela, with the Bolivarian Revolution boosted by President Hugo Chavez.

In 2005, the former IAPA president, Danillo Arbillo, denounced by his link with the Uruguayan dictatorship, charged against the government of president Nestor Kirchner, to whom he accused of "handling publicity in a selective way” and “treating with lack of consideration" the media. Arbilla's claim was directed to the disposition of the Argentinean government of distributing official advertisement with criteria of balance among the small, medium and great media.

Against Evo Morales, in 2006, the IAPA expressed that in Bolivia the freedom of press was in risk before the purpose of supporting the formation of a communitarian media network, even though these media constitute a tool for the democratization of communications, through the work of communities themselves.

Regarding Rafael Correa's administration, the Ecuadorian journalist Alberto Maldonado has denounced that the IAPA describes president Correa as “hostile to the press2, just due to the expressions he uses to qualify certain media and press representatives faced to accusations and expressions that those have used against him without any kind of tactfulness.

Regarding Venezuela, the IAPA has charged several accusations along the term in office of Hugo Chávez, reiterating the model of black propaganda, according to which the freedom of expression would be at risk.

The case of the approval of the Law of Social Responsibility on Radio and Television –/Ley de Responsabilidad Social en Radio y Televisión/, known as the /LRS/ or the /Ley Resorte/– in 2004, for instance, the IAPA, loyal to its precept saying that "the best law of press is that which does not exist", affirmed that this legislation promoted previous censorship, when it just tried to promote the right of the people to an appropriate and truthful information. However, in April 2002, the IAPA backed the coup against the legal government of Venezuela and did not pronounce about the informative black out of the private TV stations on April 13^th , nor about the closing of the state-owned Venezolana de Television during the brief de facto government.

On the other hand, the tie between the corporate press with the interests of the United States has been proved again, as it is remarked by Steinsleger, when on October 13^th 2003, then counselor of national security Condoleezza Rice ordered the IAPA General Assembly through teleconference to support the government of Gonzalo Sanchez de Losada, whose resignation was claimed by the Bolivian people after a high police repression.

The IAPA defends the old order

The Inter American Press Association has not only unleashed campaigns against legal governments, but it has also touched international organizations of the United Nations system itself, which have joined to the Latin American nations in the struggle for the democratization of the communications. It happened on the seventies against the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), when it promoted the right of the States to establish communicational policies.

During that decade, the non-aligned countries began a lithe movement demanding the creation of a New International Economic Order (NIEO) to overcome the injustices of the order which prevailed until that moment. In joint with this NIEO, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), on its Statement of Algiers in 1974, proclaimed the necessity of a New World Information and Communication Order (NWICO), to contribute with the democratization of communications, using among other formulas, the definition of national policies of communication. The NAM denounced the informative system of the moment as an instrument for domination.

The United States' answer to this proposal was immediate and it constituted a closed defense to the doctrine of free information flow[7], in which the IAPA acted again as its allied. To that doctrine, the so-called Third World countries opposed the demand of a balanced flow, through the restructuring of the information and communication systems, against the one-way messages and media concentration.

Denounces against that "free flow" found an allied on the report 'Many voices, One world', presented in 1980 as a result of the work made by a committee appointed by the UNESCO and chaired by Sean MacBride, Lenin Prize and Nobel Prize winner. In this document, known as the MacBride Report, were exposed the unbalance of information flow and was stated the necessity of more justice on the exchange of information, as well as less dependence in relation to the trends of communication.

The IAPA turned into one of the savagest opposition voices to the NWICO and to the implementation of national information policies (NIP), under a reactionary attitude against any possibility of democratization of communication, which would logically attempt against the interests of the powerful media groups.

The major argument they presented on their offensive against the NWICO was the most trite of the whole Cold War era: that new order smelled to communist conspiracy and was promoted by the Soviet Union.

In order to stop any governmental action favoring the democratization of communications, the IAPA joined to the other employer's organization of the region: the Inter American Association of Radio Broadcasting (Asociacion interamericana de radiodifusion, AIR, for Spanish). Both of them also attacked in another front by discrediting UNESCO's action, organization which under the direction of the Senegalese Amadou M'Bow had decided to boost the NWICO, establishing links between communication and development. The pestering against the UNESCO did not cease until the United States and England announced their resignation to the organization, denouncing the politicization of this forum; then the Spaniard Federico Mayor Zaragoza was appointed, a character considered much more docile before the dominant interests. For that reason, the Venezuelan researcher Oswaldo Capriles would conclud:

«The punishment suffered by the UNESCO is one of the major lessons to be learned regarding the terrible force that the organizations of western agencies and news media have, especially from the United States, not only regarding the specific capacity to influence the opinion through the twisting of information, but also regarding the capacity of pressing directly the governments and obtaining serious political results in the scene of the organizations of the United Nations international system» (1996, p. 42).

Those in charge for this campaign were mainly The New York Times, agencies of news AP, UPI and AFP, and specially the IAPA and AIR.

The IAPA action was particularly strong in 1976, against the Conference of San Jose de Costa Rica, where the Latin American governments met to debate about the national policies of communication. The IAPA, as it did not request the status of observer before the UNESCO, was not invited to the meeting; however, the employer's organization put forward a campaign affirming that when they did not invite it they rejected the debate and, under a flourish strike, announced a parallel meeting in San Jose, "under the loud-voiced direction of a Dominican journalist, former spokesperson of the deceased dictator Trujillo," as Capriles indicated.

In a detailed analysis of the IAPA and AIR campaign against the UNESCO, Capriles expressed that both employer's organizations achieved to flood the world press with a war of opinions in which dominated the idea of existing an 'UNESCO thesis', inspired by the 'extreme left' and attempting against the freedom of speech. Besides, the attacks were focused against those countries which supported the conference, while in the great media reduced the negative news about the countries which showed disposition to collaborate.

The communiques issued by the UNESCO were not published by almost any journal, while any document issued by the denominated Commission for the Defense of Freedom of Information, created by the IAPA and by the International Press Institute (IPI) as one of its battle fronts, was repeated by all the affiliated media. The IAPA campaign was repeated in the United States by the journals of the group Hearts and the New York Times[8]. Meanwhile, from the IAPA Newscast they mixed up non related events, accusations of anti-Semitism, denounces of actions from the "Russian crusher-Third World" to attack the UNESCO.

Despite one of the strategies used by the IAPA was to insist on an alleged plot against the freedom of speech drawn by the governments of extreme right and extreme left, the truth is as Capriles reveals:

"On the countries with dictatorial regimes existed, in fact, an unspoken agreement between governments and media upon the basis of previous situations of understanding, which also proves that the commercial media were not demanding democracy or freedom, but defending the oligopolistic privileges for their advertising activities, an activity they considered instead as threatened by those countries under formal democracy regimes because on those –at least in some of them– had been stated the issue of communication policies as necessary element to a progress or improvement of the democracy." (Capriles, 1996, p. 57)

Some of the agreements of that meeting in Costa Rica consisted on creating a Latin American and Caribbean agency of news; establishing ways of cooperation for the development of rural communications; forming a Latin American council of social communication; demanding a balanced circulation of communication and information at the international level; and recognizing the right of communication as a derivation from the universal right of speech. However, all of those purposes were abandoned by the governments towards the strong media pressure.

Specifically in Venezuela, the IAPA found support on the employer's federation Fedecamaras, which on August 3^rd launched a declaration about the necessity of protecting the freedom of speech and warning against the totalitarian risk.

Since then until now, the IAPA has kept acting against the attempts of vindication of the right of communication and truthful information. For that reason, by the end of the nineties, it accused the government of Rafael Caldera of having totalitarian trends, seeking to hinder him to present his proposal of right o truthful information at the VII Ibero-American Summit, which took place on the island of Margarita in 1997.

In that summit, despite the
violent opposition of the IAPA, was approved for the first time a paragraph about granting the right to truthful information, on the accord 38 of that conference, which is still in force. Then this principle found firmer paths on the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, which confirms in article 58 the right of appropriate, truthful and unbiased information.

IAPA's speech. Freedom of press or freedom of company?

The IAPA, in its official speech, tries very hard to use concepts to legitimate its behavior and set itself as a referent to define the freedom of press and to decide who respects it and who does not. However, doing so, it is usurping a collective right of the people and hiding on behalf of whom this employers' organization is really acting. Let's see some examples:

* The IAPA tries to appear as the representatives of the journalists, but as people have noticed, it is just an employer's organization that represents only mass media owners. Therefore, it cannot talk on behalf of the journalists, as it has been denounced by journalists of the whole continent.

* The IAPA bestows for itself the right to decide who is violating and who is respecting the freedom of speech. As the journalist Ernesto Vera warns, the freedom of speech is an individual right, and the freedom of press comes from it; nevertheless, in mass media's case, freedom of press becomes into a collective right. Thus, it is a right of the society and does not belong to the big press owners. If we let this right in their hands, it would be as if we trust the right of health to be defended and defined only by the big private hospitals' owners.

Oswaldo Capriles, in his book /Poder político y comunicación/ (Political Power and Communication), points out that the IAPA uses the freedom of speech to put pressure on public opinion. In the moment that this organization shows itself as the people in charge of defining which countries respect the freedom of press and which ones do not, they put pressure on governments and present themselves to the public opinion with a power they do not have. He also reminds us that the IAPA offers the dominant conception of freedom of speech as an exclusive privilege of media owners.

Who has more right to the freedom of speech than the society itself? For this reason the IAPA is frequently denounced. They pretend to mix together the freedom of press with the freedom of company, which is nothing more than to defend their capability of making business, as it is defined by the Latin American Federation of Journalists (FELAP, Spanish abbreviation):

“Being this association (the IAPA) a congregation of newspapers' owners and editors, the freedom of speech that it pretends to defend cannot be other than the freedom of company needed by its members in order to take part in the press business and to use news as a merchandise or a consumption product” (2006, p. 28).

* The IAPA intends to define, without the participation of the rest of the society, what freedom of speech means, a right that has not been granted to it and which the organization has taken over due to its economic power. The IAPA made it clear in its Statement of Chapultepec, in which expresses an apology of a freedom of press' definition that seeks a prerogative of the mass media. The employers' organization started the Chapultepec project in 1994 and, currently, it assures that the ten points of the Statement have been established as the “recognized standard for the hemisphere to measure freedom of speech and press”. In fact, it assures that since 1994, an 'abstract concept', as it is the freedom of speech, has been redefined, which has allowed people not to give "unclear, sporadic, and incoherent" answers, when they are questioned about freedom of expression's meaning.

* The IAPA presents itself as the defender of the independent press. After seeing so many examples of manipulation and misinformation, people should ask themselves, what is that press independent of? It is independent of the people's interests; dependent of money and power owners.

* The IAPA is harshly against the truthful information concept, alleging that if it were accepted, then media would have to account for to the governments, which in turn might censure press defining what truthful information is. This is a false dichotomy because the society is in charge of denouncing mass media when they lie. The dilemma is not IAPA vs. Government, but IAPA vs. Society.

* The IAPA has been always against laws on press, defending instead the self-regulation concept. Nevertheless, the fact that somebody has enough money to own a mass media that would reach hundred of thousands or millions of people does not place this person above or at the margin of the society. He or she has to answer and assume an ethic and social responsibility, or we would be facing a paradox of an antidemocratic power acting as the comptroller of another power, which is democratically constituted, without accounting for to the latter and without any chance of being modified.

We should have to remember, as Vera does, that the press' existence is supported in constitutional precepts that were not bought with money, but with the sacrifice and blood of all of those who fought for independence.

Powerful, but not almighty

Despite of this imperialist alliances, manipulations, and misinformation record, for the past few years, Latin American progressive governments, left-wing or revolutionary ones, have achieved their victories in their electoral processes, even against the will and position of big press media, which represents a major defeat for the powerful people of the IAPA. This evidences, undoubtedly, a growth of the critical people's conscience, even when black propaganda campaigns keep harming and trying to bend people's will of advancing to the transformation of our realities.

Ernesto Vera defends the idea, after having several years exercising in the journalism field, that the owners of the mass media companies are powerful, but not almighty. And their weak point is precisely that their message offends human intelligence and it is not identified with the reality of the huge majority of the addressees. For that reason, even with less technological and financial resources, it is needed to insist on the task of developing a critical conscience about what those media mean and about who their owners are, and who are the owners of those owners.

[1] The informations and opinions issued by the Cuban journalist Ernesto Vera came from a personal interview carried out for this paper. Vera is honorary president of the Latin American Federation of Journalists (Federación Latinoamericana de Periodistas, FELAP) and professor at the Jose Marti International Institute of Journalism.

[2] In 1950, the IAPA had a total 778 members, 424 were from the United States, 314 were Latin Americans and 22 were from Canada and Europe.

[3] The answer to this call came 25 years later because it was in 1976 when the Latin American Federation of Journalists (FELAP) was created, under the principle of always supporting the right of the people to trustworthy information. To found the FELAP it was essential the fighting action of the Peruvian journalist Genaro Carnero Checa, who achieved that then Mexican president Luis Echeverria supported the beginning of the organization. Nowadays, the FELAP actions and statements continue to be silenced by the great media.

[4] The quotes about Selser's book are collected by journalist Jose Steinsleger, in the article 'SIP: Mordaza de libre presión' (IAPA, Gag of free pressure), published by the Mexican journal La Jornada on October 15^th 2006. About this matter of the IAPA, Selser is also frequently quoted by Juan Gargurevich. Steinsleger comments that if the IAPA were an organization really committed to freedom, in
dependence and democracy, the building working as head office in Miami should be called Gregorio Selser (1922-1991), instead of Jules Dubois.

[5] Venezuelan researcher Oswaldo Capriles, in a book titled 'Poder político y comunicacion' (Political power and communication), states that there is no doubt that the US agencies of security have been involved on the conformation of the IAPA, even though the owners of the media do not need much pressure to maintain similar positions with the US industrial-political-military complex, given to its place into the dominant elites. It explains the ultraconservative trend granted by the IAPA.

[6] The notes about García's book were published on the Uruguayan journal La Republica, on August 20th 2007, titled 'La CIA ordenaba; El País y la SIP ejecutaban' (The CIA ordered; El País and the IAPA carried it out). The note of the journal recalls that Arbenz headed the second term in office of what was called the 'democratic spring' in Guatemala and he was overthrown on June 27th 1954 due to an invasion of 'a liberator army' organized, financed and armed by the United States. 'The CIA operation to overthrow Arbenz was called a 'Success' and it was the first which included the implementation of 'an instrument to construct opinions at a continental level', in accordance with the definition by the US itself. The operation was authorized by the US president Dwigth Eisenhower and carried out by the then minister John Foster Dulles and his brother Allen, CIA director. Dulles' brothers were shareholders of the United Fruit Company, owner of huge large states and plantations in Guatemala, affected by the agricultural reform started by Arbenz in order to give lands to the thousands of peasants ans natives deprived from it.'

[7] At the Inter American Conference of Chapultepec, carried out in 1945, the United States had fostered the approval of a resolution regarding the free circulation of news. As the Venezuelan journalist Eleazar Diaz Rangel, in his book International Information in Latin America, these resolutions might be literally unquestionable, but in the practice 'would only benefit the single country capable to make circulate all kind of communicational messages, aware of the power of information.' One year later, in 1946, the Department of State informed that an undersecretary of State would be in charge of the communication issues, on the express function of breaking the barriers opposing to the expansion of the US media on the planet, assuming the freedom of press as part of the US foreign policy.

[8] The reporter of the New York times, Deidre Carmody, stated the IAPA arguments and complained about the impossibility of presenting the UNESCO pleas affirming that it had not been possible to get in touch with any of its officials at the Costa Rica conference; however, it was later discovered that she was not only accredited as correspondent for the event, but she was neither in San Jose.

Translated by Felitza Nava and Ernesto Aguilera


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