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Human Rights

Uruguay and Chile the only countries in the Americas with full freedom of press

The Chapultepec Index shows no freedom of press in Nicaragua, Cuba, and Venezuela

Libertad de prensa en América Latina
Fotoperiodista documenta protestas | Foto: Teodor Lazarev

October 25, 2021 6:55pm

Updated: October 29, 2021 8:52pm

The Chapultepec Index, which measures freedom of press in 22 American countries, was released this week during the General Assembly of the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA). Made by experts at Andres Bello University in Venezuela, the latest version of the index covers the period from July 31, 2020 to August 1, 2021.

According to the index, Uruguay and Chile are the only countries in the Americas with full freedom of press. Uruguay is the best-ranking country. Contrary to the freedom of press guaranteed in Uruguay, there is no freedom of press in Nicaragua, Cuba, and Venezuela.

“Authoritarianism is being perfected,” said President of IAPA Carlos Jornet.

The highest ranking country of the index—Uruguay—scored 84,10, while the lowest ranking—Venezuela—scored 5.71. An abysmal difference of 78.39 points, pointed out León Hernández, one of the researchers behind the study. This difference shows the state of freedom of press in Venezuela or the lack thereof, he added.

The countries with the most favorable state of press include Jamaica (3), Dominican Republic (4), Canada (5), Costa Rica (6), Peru (7), Paraguay (8), and Panama (9).

The countries with partial restrictions to freedom of press include the United States (10), Honduras (11), Colombia (12), Ecuador (13), Argentina (14), Bolivia (15), Mexico (16), and Guatemala (17).

El Salvador (18) and Brazil (19) showed tight restrictions of press, only a step away from having no freedom of press.

Nicaragua (20), Cuba (21), and Venezuela (22) showed no freedom of press.

Freedom of press has declined the most in Argentina, while the Dominican Republic showed a significant improvement.

Compared to the previous index, the Dominican Republic rose 10 places, Ecuador climbed four, and the United States rose three. “All of the improvements are tried to political changes in each country.”

In contrast, Argentina dropped 12 places and Mexico five. The position of these two countries has been in decline since the first index was published, which covered the period from May 2019 to April 2020.

The measurement covers four aspects: first, informed citizens who are free to express themselves; second, the practice of journalism; third, violence and impunity; and lastly, control over the media. Based on these four aspects, the state of freedom of press in a country can be determined, as well as its deficiencies or attributes.

The average score for American countries is 55.61, based on a theoretical maximum of 100. This average has increased 4.19 points since the first edition of the index.

The index is a mandate of the Declaration of Chapultepec, issued by the Hemispheric Conference of Freedom of Expression help in Mexico City in 1994.

The Colombian companies Sura Group and Bolivar Foundation, as well as Edward and Karen Seaton from the United States, contribute to the making of the Chapultepec Index.