A CRY FOR FREEDOM OF PRESS
In Chile we suffer from a serious illness, known as ‘social schizophrenia’, which has made its way to our society and is here to stay. The main media sources censor, manipulate and even participate in covering-up information. They control the news agenda by protecting corrupted officials, human rights violators and are even considered a threat against civil liberties. That is why I believe that they carry out a deceptive advertising role instead of an investigative journalism role.
It doesn’t matter just how impressive or how well documented or even how verifiable the news can be, it is always protected and rapidly covered-up by those unknown custodians that operate from behind the shadows; leading us to believe that our country lives within a bubble. However, the damage is twice as big when you have a legal system that does everything in its power to look the other way in order to avoid taking actions, and by this, helps to increase the levels of corruption and abuses committed by those that believe that they are above the law.
In any decent country, if a Minister of State does not pay his/her taxes he/she is removed from office. In Chile, the current Labour Minister, Mrs Evelyn Matthei, daughter of former Aviation General, Fernando Matthei, who was also a member of the Military Government led by the dictator Augusto Pinochet; has evaded taxes for over thirty years and to date has not received any sanction. If it had not been for some independent media sources that publish the news, this matter may have never made it to the public eye. Currently, Mrs Evelyn Matthei, continues to appear on national television without receiving any accusations and no one dares to ask her questions about this case.
Chile’s Police Force, who has become famous for its excessive repressive action against all types of social movements, is currently lead by Police Chief Gustavo Adolfo Gonzalez Jure, who in 1988 was the Captain of an undercover police unit, killed a 14 year old boy, Sergio Albornoz Matus. This officer has never been sanctioned due to an administrative matter. The verdict of the court martial held during those years and all the evidence against Gonzalez Jure were cremated, and the officers that participated in the murder of this young boy still remain in active duty within the institution.
The current President of Chile’s Senate, Mr Camilo Escalona (member of the Socialist Party), was denounced by his former secretary for abuse, harassment and unlawful dismissal. To date, not a single word nor a minute of television has been granted to make this news public. Also, the former Interior Minister, Mr Edmundo Perez Yoma (member of the Christian Democratic Party) was accused of stealing water in theProvinceofPetorca, and once again no one dared to publish this news.
This list of ‘real news’ continues to be ignored and silenced. Hundreds of other cases can be named, but assuming the need to synthesize, I bring to your attention the most peculiar case of all: Approximately one year ago, a former police officer charged by the Human Rights Commission of the Chamber of Deputies, stated that our current Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter gave the order to General Bruno Villalobos in charge of the Police Intelligence Bureau, to illegally tap the mobile phone of the Pakistani Ambassador in Chile. This police unit lead by General Villalobos, was also accused of tapping telephone conversations mad by Parliament representatives, Human Rights lawyers, journalists and several social leaders, including the leader ofChile’s student movement Camila Vallejo. In his statement, this former police official states that he even heard a conversation between former President Ricardo Lagos and his Interior Minister Jose Miguel Insulza. This complete case was never made public.
While reading all this you might be asking yourself, How is it that nobody is able to do anything? You are correct to believe that there are still some honest journalists, committed with the freedom of speech, the duty to inform and the respect towards democracy; willing to take the risk in order to denounce these cases. The funny part of all this, is that those of us who dare come up front and spend time investigating all these allegations, are victims of daily threats, taken to court and even confronted with the idea of having to spend time in prison for simply doing what is correct.
On 28 May and 2 June 2012, I am forced to attend the Chilean courts in order to defend allegations made against some of the public officials that do not know the meaning of democracy; if found guilty, I face at least five years of imprisonment.
For this reason and before anything happens, I prefer to scream to the world that “In Chile there is no such thing as freedom of press” and that we live in a society that condemns those who seek the truth by protecting those that believe that they can ignore the laws and still get away with it.
May it be heard in every corner of the world and in solidarity with every journalist who lives or has lived this same experience; that the freedom of press and the duty to inform is a Mission Statement that cannot be waived for those of us who believe in the relentless pursuit of this complex phenomenon known as ‘TRUTH’.
Director of Panoramas News
Accused in seven ongoing legal cases in both civil and military courts, arrested six times while attempting to report the events of public demonstrations held inSantiago.