Censorship

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Censorship
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Guatemala 🇬🇹 is a Central American country which practices Christianity (a nearly equal mix of Catholicism and Protestantism).

General censorship[]

The right to freedom of expression is guaranteed by Article 35 of the Guatemalan Constitution, with an attached clause banning offensive or criminal speech. Censorship in Guatemala is still a problem in the country today. Guatemalan news reporters have faced government led censorship and other types of censorship, often in the form of intimidation, since the beginning of the Guatemalan Civil War. In Guatemala today, reporters often must contend with legal harassment, threats, and in the worst cases, assault or murder, originating from the government, large businesses, and the cartels. Newspapers and radio stations face the most harassment in the country, as television in Guatemala is owned almost exclusively by Angel González González, a conservative foreign businessman, whose success in the country is due to cooperation with the government. These aggressions, combined with the government's lack of response or punishment for perpetrators, have led to a culture of self-censorship for reporters in the country.

Censorship during the 1960-1996 civil war[]

The Guatemalan Civil War, fought from 1960 to 1996, put into power a series of military rulers who tried to control the media through a combination of censorship laws and violence. During the thirty-six years of violence in the country, three hundred and twenty four journalists were killed, while a hundred and twenty-six are still missing. So far, no one has been held accountable for any of these deaths or disappearances, although the Guatemalan government has been implicated in the cases of both Irma Flaquer and Jorge Carpio Nicolle. Another form of censorship used during the 1980s was defamation, when "government agents would accuse certain journalists as destabilizers of democracy, connections with cartels, or just attempt to publically [sic] humiliate them, as tactics to disqualify their integrity and morality as journalists." In 1987, the government of General Efraín Ríos Montts’ ordered the censorship of any news relating to leftist guerrillas or "commentaries related to subversive activities occurring in the country." In May 1993, President Jorge Serrano ordered the censorship of both daily newspapers and broadcast media. In protest, newspapers would run their stories with the blacked out marks made by the censors that the President had installed at their companies, although some accepted the presidents offer of self-censorship. Self-censorship was prevalent to journalists in Guatemala, due to the violence faced by those who would criticize the government. Juan Lopez, the President of Guatemalan Federation of Radio Stations in 1991, said of self-censorship regarding his programs, "of course self-censorship govern all our programs: we want to avoid provoking reprisals at all cost. There are certain subjects we can’t take on board."

Censorship since 1996[]

From the end of the war to present, many of the modes of censorship in Guatemala have remained the same, though journalists and human rights activists believe that freedom of the press is stronger now then it was during the war. Censorship in the form of intimidation is still prevalent in Guatemala, where there have been 24 murdered journalists between 2000 and 2013, all unsolved. In March 2015, protests were held in Guatemala City and Mazatenago in retaliation to three journalists who were murdered in connection to a money laundering scandal one of the journalists was investigating. CERIGUA reported 117 cases of violence against journalists in November 2015, up from 74 cases the previous year, specifying, "that police and political parties were among the primary aggressors." Censorship also comes in the form of legal threats in present-day Guatemala, where the government uses legal restrictions under Article 35 to target media organizations and the journalists that work for them. Journalists often face libel and defamation cases, though politicians will uses bribery, money laundering, and trafficking to take journalists to court "with the express purpose of harassment." José Rubén Zamora, along with facing numerous physical threats throughout his career, had criminal charges filed against him by the president and vice president for his coverage of the government. The government also formed Foundation Against Media Terrorism in 2015, which "journalists interpreted as an attempt to increase control over the press." Amid complaints from human rights’ groups, the foundation was disbanded in the same year. Also in Guatemala, "there is an unspoken collective censorship on three topics: cartels, organized crime, and corporate companies. Those topics are off limits for the main reason of personal safety." This self-censorship is out of fear of retaliation by powerful groups in Guatemala. Red zones in the countryside also exist in Guatemala, areas controlled by the cartels where no is allowed to enter unless given permission, including journalists. Mention of cartel groups by journalists often comes with threats or harassment.

Book censorship[]

  • Mein Kampf - Adolf Hitler's manifesto was banned during the presidency of Jorge Ubico.
  • El Señor Presidente - this novel by Miguel Angel Asturias was banned for going against the ruling political leaders.

Film censorship[]

Internet censorship[]

Classified as no evidence of filtering by ONI in 2011.

Guatemala's constitution protects freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and individual privacy, however, government officials routinely violate these rights. Recent constitutional reforms have legalized various electronic surveillance techniques that threaten online privacy. The Ley de Protección Integral de la Niñez y Adolescencia (Law on the Protection of Children and Adolescents) permits the restriction of content for children younger than eighteen years of age if it is deemed harmful to their development. Media outlets and organizers of public events are required to evaluate and classify programmed content according to this law. The Ley de Emisión del Pensamiento (Law on Expression of Thought) prohibits libel, slander, and treason in printed form, and stipulates that the author of any publication containing an opinion that the judiciary considers to be subversive, morally damaging, or "disrespectful" of private life may be subject to punishment. The Law on Expression of Thought explicitly requires newspapers that have incorrectly attributed acts to or published false information about people or entities to publish any corrections, explanations, or refutations sent to them by those they have accused. In cases of printed material that involves treason, is subversive, is "damaging to morals", or contains slander or libel, newspapers may be subject to a trial by jury; decisions may be appealed within 48 hours. The law makes an exception when the offended party is a government employee or official: if the offending content concerns "purely official acts" related to government work, the case will be judged in a "court of honor", and the decision will be final and closed to appeal. The Ley de Orden Público (Law of Public Order) states that if the government has declared the country to be "in a state of siege", journalists must "refrain from publishing anything that might cause confusion or panic."

Television censorship[]

Video game censorship[]

  • Roblox was banned on the grounds that it could harm the safety of children and teenagers.

External links[]

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