Latin America & the Caribbean

Freedom House

In the Americas, 15 countries (43 percent) were rated Free, 14 (40 percent) were rated Partly Free, and 6 (17 percent) were rated Not Free for 2012. In terms of the region’s population, 38 percent lived in Free countries, and 42 could be found in Partly Free media environments, with the remaining 20 percent living in Not Free countries. These figures are significantly influenced by the open media environments of North America and much of the Caribbean, which tend to offset the less rosy picture in Central and South America. In Latin America, meaning the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking parts of the region, only 15 percent of the countries were rated Free, and just 1 percent of the population lived in Free media environments. The regional average score worsened, with gains in the political category overshadowed by declines in the legal and economic categories.

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Reporters Without Borders

The worldwide wave of protests in 2011 also swept through the New World. It dragged the United States (47th) and Chile (80th) down the index, costing them 27 and 47 places respectively. The crackdown on protest movements and the accompanying excesses took their toll on journalists. In the space of two months in the United States, more than 25 were subjected to arrests and beatings at the hands of police who were quick to issue indictments for inappropriate behaviour, public nuisance or even lack of accreditation

In Chile, where student protesters questioned the over-concentration of media ownership, violence against journalists included beatings, cyber-attacks and attacks on editorial staffs. Many of these assaults, often accompanied by heavy-handed arrests and destruction of equipment, were carried out by abusive armed police who were rarely called to account.

Neighbouring Argentina (47th) barely moved in the index but two other southern countries registered a marked decline – Brazil (99th, down 41) and Paraguay (80th, down 26). Violence was the dominant factor in these changes. In Brazil’s north and north-east and in Paraguay’s border regions, local corruption, organized crime and environmental damage proved to be dangerous topics for journalists and bloggers alike to tackle. Three were killed in Brazil in 2011. Although the vast country showed it was making efforts to combat impunity, justice was applied unevenly across regions and states and was subjected to powerful political pressures.


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Antigua and Barbuda | Argentina | Bahamas | Barbados | Belize | Bolivia | Brazil | Chile | Colombia | Costa Rica | Cuba | Dominica | Dominican Republic | Ecuador | El Salvador | Grenada | Guatemala | Guyana | Haiti | Honduras | Jamaica | Mexico | Nicaragua | Panama | Paraguay | Peru | Saint Kitts and Nevis | Saint Lucia | Saint Vincent and the Grenadines | Suriname | Trinidad and Tobago | Uruguay | Venezuela

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