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JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

Chilean authorities blame radio journalist for inciting protests, violence



Authorities accused a Chilean radio journalist of inciting a "climate of violence" in the area of Aysén, Chile, where protests are frequent, according to a report from the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC).

The accusations against radio host Claudia Torres of the program "Your Problem is My Problem" on the radio station Radio Santa María in Coyhaique came from city councilwoman Pilar Cuevas and police commander Ricardo Cartagena, reported AMARC. Fire department supervisor Raúl Vásquez also blamed the station for instigating the protests, one of which ended in a fire, according to the newspaper La Nación. “This situation happened because you were calling people to protest in the streets all afternoon," said Vásquez.

Radio station executive director Ricardo Arévalo lamented the authorities' accusations, as the conflicts in the area happened for other reasons, according to the radio station Radio Universidad de Chile. Arévalo said that the police commander was probably irritated with the station for its criticisms of the “unjust and disproportionate" police attacks against protesters and journalists, added Radio Universidad de Chile.

In a statement, Reporters Without Borders said that Radio Santa Maria's website "has suffered major disruptions" and its mirror and streaming sites, created to get around the blockages, were inaccessible for part of the day March 21. The organization also expressed concern about protecting the rights to inform and be informed -- rights that could be harmed if these kind of accusations and communications outages continue.



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