Shut up the fuck!

Hugo Marcelo Balderrama

By: Hugo Marcelo Balderrama - 08/04/2024

Guest columnist.
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On March 20, at the Inter-American Institute for Democracy, based in Miami - Florida, Israel Mérida presented his book: Callalditos carajo! The work explains in a very well-documented way the destruction of press freedom in Bolivia from 2006 to 2023, a period of time that I call: The two decades of dictatorial infamy.

Mérida finds three fronts of attack that the regime uses to attack press freedom in Bolivia: 1) The high public spending to buy private media, 2) The chronic dependence on the official guidelines by the media, and 3) the constant restrictive mechanisms on information, which in normal countries is public knowledge, for example, economic indicators from the Central Bank or the INE.

But there are also other not so subtle methods, for example, physical aggression. Indeed, the book documents that, between 2007 and 2008, there were 27 cases of terrorist attacks against private media and another five state media, which were later repeated in the form of looting and fires. Obviously, the authorship corresponds to gang members belonging to the Movement Towards Socialism. In this regard, Enrique Rosenthal, vice president of the Legislative Transparency Observatory, on the occasion of his participation in the presentation of Israel Mérida's book, expressed the following:

One of the most alarming aspects of the document is the one regarding the arbitrary arrests ordered by jurisdictional authorities, as well as the excessive use of force by the Police, which left more than 52 injured and almost two dozen journalists arrested and detained. for carrying out his work, in the last 18 years. Some of them were Juan Carlos Paco Vermanedi, Esteban Farfán Romero and Carlos Quisbert. Although these episodes have been evident almost without interruptions in the last 18 years, the Observatory's experts highlighted the period 2007-2014, during which there was an increase in attacks on female journalists that was around 30% and began an upward trend. even exceeding the percentages in men in the following years.

Note the paradox: the Bolivian State, which, aligned with all the narratives of progressivism and the new left, has declared itself anti-patriarchal and anti-colonial, is responsible for censoring and beating women. However, that is the subject of another debate.

On a personal level, simply as a small complement to Israel Mérida's research, I allow myself to share two experiences.

At the beginning of this year, a journalist asked me for an interview to analyze the political situation in Bolivia, but, at the same time, I was warned not to use terms such as 21st Century Socialism, Castrochavism, dictatorship or narco-state. Of course I did not accept, in fact, I declined halfway to the radio, because I am convinced that self-censorship is the worst of censorship.

However, the complicit silence is not limited to journalists and the press, but there is a sector that by its nature is the first that should have rebelled against censorship, I am referring to the universities, but it did not happen.

Public universities, especially the faculties of Social Sciences, were and are the builders of the narratives that support 21st Century Socialism, since, as the great Ludwig Von Mises said, many economic theories are just prejudices against capitalism and the free market. The situation is worse in areas such as Social Communication, Sociology or Political Science, or where do you think concepts like "indigenism" came from?

Higher education regulations mean that private universities are subject to double pressure: to resemble and, simultaneously, differentiate themselves from public universities. This forces them to live between closure, expropriation or fines. Result? You cannot debate any topic that is bothersome to those in power, politics is the main one.

In conclusion, it is true that the dictatorship puts pressure on journalists, the media, universities and any free thinker. But that should not be synonymous with self-censorship, since between an abusive dictator and a people who accept him there is an unhealthy complicity.

«The opinions published herein are the sole responsibility of its author».