HS News Network
Perú‘s Volatile President Slapping and Censoring. What is next?
The reports coming out of Peru about President Alan Garcia’s behavior are making a lot of headlines there but very little here in the U.S. Should we be worried about press censorship, alleged reports of voter fraud and the President allegedly striking private citizens? We are.
Two TV talk shows in Perú were abruptly cancelled last week because of their harsh criticism of President Alan Garcia and his growing volatile behavior. The decision spread a grim cloud of censorship over the media, where newspapers and TV networks chose to either tame down their content, or to run disclaimers disowning the comments of journalists that expressed outrage at the President.
Then, last Thursday, the gloom of censorship turned into a storm, when president Alan García condemned local press officials publicly accusing them of instigating the public rebuffing of all politicians. This said without proof and against all media in Peru.
“El Francotirador” (The Sharpshooter), the TV show hosted and directed by journalist and TV personality Jaime Bayly and the show “Enemigos Públicos” were taken of the air by their respective networks allegedly as the result of Garcia putting pressure on them.
The President had been upset by press reports accusing him of physically attacking a local citizen while visiting a local hospital. Numerous press reports are stating Garcia struck private citizen Richard Galvez twice across the face when he called him ‘corrupt’.
The Press and Society Institute also manifested great concern about why the “Frecuencia Latina” network pulled the plug on Jaime Bayly’s show. The network claims the decision to cancel was mutual.
Cancellation came after the network felt the need to create some distance from Bayly’s criticism about the speediness of the latest municipal elections in Lima and the President’s alleged interference and ran several disclaimers at the bottom of the screen while the journalist conducted his show.
Bayly’s comments on how García allegedly pressured electoral authorities to push for the conservative candidate came to a sudden stop when the host realized the network was running a crawl that read, “The opinions in this show are a responsibility of the anchor, and not the network.” (Watch towards the end of the video)
The anchor then, welcomed back viewers saying, “This is a show with a double lecture. One is the things I say, and another the things that appear at the bottom of your screen” “We all knew that the things I say are my responsibility, the thing I didn’t know is the network is in disagreement with the things I say.” “Are they in disagreement with all my opinions? Do they disagree with me when I say that the sluggishness of the [Electoral Process Office] is unacceptable?” “Don’t be surprised if they run a crawl in a while that says ’ since the network disagrees with everything the anchor says, the anchor is fired.”
The journalist, who last year was thinking about running for president said then “I’m not going to run for president, and is for one simple reason: The salary of a president, would not be enough for me to raise even one of my daughters; I have two, and I’m expecting another one, and since I’m not a thief, and since I don’t steal from the public, the presidential salary would not be enough, so [Frecuencia Latina Network] relax, I won’t be running for President,” Bayly said to his supporters.
Peru’s stability in the region is critical to U.S. interests as the country engages in more South American trade pacts. Peru is only recently returning to a ‘democratic’ form of government after years of military government. García is key to reenergizing Peru’s international relations and economic relations with the world and to showcase Peru’s democratic and pro-free trade path. Not allowing free press, slapping your critics and interferring in local elections is not the way to garner international praise just scorn.