Guatemala | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2003

2003 Scores

Press Status

Partly Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


Press freedom is enshrined in Guatemala's constitution, and newspapers freely scrutinize government policies. However, laws to protect journalists are rarely enforced and legislation passed in 2001 requires that all journalists be licensed. During 2002, there were numerous cases of members of the press being targets of threats, harassment, and intimidation. Reporters who expose corruption or investigate past human rights abuses stemming from the country's civil war are particularly vulnerable. Consequently, many journalists are inclined to practice self-censorship. All four of the country's television stations are owned by a Mexican citizen and have been criticized for being monopolistic and pro-government, and for reporting only on uncontroversial issues. The government places high costs on the establishment of radio stations through public auctioning of frequencies. In a country with a majority indigenous population, this practice creates an effective barrier to rural indigenous communities gaining access to or control of media outlets.