- The Washington Times - Monday, March 16, 2009

ASUNCION, PARAGUAY (AP) - Freedom of the press has deteriorated in the Americas, with Mexico among the most dangerous countries in the region to be a journalist, the Inter American Press Association said Monday.

“Press freedom has worsened in the hemisphere in the last six months,” the IAPA said as the association’s four-day midyear meeting drew to a close in the Paraguayan capital.

Mexico “continues to be one of the most dangerous places for journalists,” the group reported, pointing to four recent murders and eight attacks by criminal organizations.

“Unfortunately, their actions are bearing fruit. Self-censorship is a reality in the Mexican press,” the organization said.

IAPA also expressed concern that the international financial crisis is forcing United States news media to shed thousands of jobs, eroding the sector’s crucial role as whistle-blowers for corruption cases in the private and public sector.

The Miami, Florida-based organization accused Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez of “humiliating the press,” and said his “incendiary rhetoric” has been adopted by other heads of state in Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Brazil and Argentina.

Twenty-six journalists remain imprisoned in Cuba, said the IAPA, which called on President Raul Castro to “relax repression against liberty of expression.”

IAPA applauded a drop in violence against journalists in Colombia.

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