Lea la versión original en español: http://freedomofjournalism.org/values/bolivia-el-periodismo-en-su-peor-momento/
Bolivian journalism for more than a decade had to face many challenges from the government at the time of Evo Morales. Aside from a corrupt government, Bolivia also has other difficulties, like the pandemic effects which harms independent journalism.
At the election process in 2005, Evo Morales Ayma was chosen, and started his presidential term on January 22, 2006, being the first indigenous president. But, on November 10, 2019, Evo Morales resigned and fled from Bolivia due to the findings of fraud in the last elections.
It was thought that because of Evo Morales’ resignation, the Bolivian journalists would be more comfortable serving the nation in their role as independent press, but the pandemic took place and this brought new challenges.
Evo Morales’ government had so much influence that it could censor a journalist through the media channels where these journalists work, or silence them in other ways.
Carlos Valverde, Bolivian journalist, had gone through the government’s pressure and therefore he had to flee from Bolivia for the safety of his friends and family. Valverde had been investigating president Morales’ life and found out that the child from the relationship of Evo Morales, and Gabriela Zapata, Morales’ former partner, was not the Bolivian president’s son, and he also found other relevant details.
As a result of this story, Carlos Valverde had to escape to Argentina because of Morales’ government retaliation. When he came back to Bolivia in May 2016, the majority of media channels and stations in Santa Cruz, Bolivia had already blacklisted him.
Currently Valverde has a news program on YouTube and Facebook, where he can freely argue his stands against Evo Morales’ government and other current national and international affairs.
“If the Government would have silenced us, they would have won,” declared Valverde. “But we are winning, because we keep expressing ourselves.”
Even though the new president, Jeanine Áñez, has been in power for several months, things have not changed that much. It could be that there is a more stable democracy and a more transparent government, but unluckily, COVID-19 not only affected the country’s health system and economy, but it also affected the media channels.
On the other hand, the government administration’s change has caused contempt toward the media channels in various regions, low pay for reporters, accusations of fake news, and other challenges. These problems constantly harm the Bolivian journalist.
Lupe Cajías, Boris Miranda and Marcelo Guardia, Bolivian journalists with years of experience in media channels, have made an analysis about Bolivian journalism for the La Opinión newspaper from Cochabamba, Bolivia. In this detailed report they contended that Bolivian journalism is at its worst point.
For instance, the printed newspaper does not circulate regularly due to the COVID-19 regulations in the country. This has led journalists to use social media, which is not so effective for the Andean country’s audience that usually gets their news by radio, TV and printed newspaper.
These types of situations have led the Bolivian journalist to do the best attempt to adapt to the hard reality, despite the raw situation of the Bolivian journalism industry even before the pandemic.
“I believe that, like in any other crisis, those who can adapt to the new times will thrive.” (Lupe Cajías, columnist at ‘Los Tiempos’ and ‘Página Siete’ newspapers)