Guatemala | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2009

2009 Scores

Press Status

Partly Free

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


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

  • Guatemalan journalists continued to work under difficult and dangerous conditions in 2008. Frequent and more violent attacks against the press, combined with the state of impunity for crimes of this nature, have produced a chilling effect on the industry, often leading journalists to practice self-censorship.
  • Article 35 of the constitution ensures freedom of expression, which is generally respected by the government.
  • In September legislators unanimously approved the Freedom of Information Act, a law that allows citizens to request and receive information about public institutions.
  • Media groups reported numerous cases of extralegal intimidation and violence aimed at journalists, often related to drugs, corruption, and organized crime. In May, Jorge Merida Perez, a journalist for the national daily Prensa Libre, was murdered after reporting on drug trafficking and government corruption. In July, another Prensa Libre reporter, Danilo Lopez, received a death threat from a former governor related to his writing on corruption in the governor’s office.
  • In August, Jose Ruben Zamora, president of the Guatemala City daily El Periodico, was abducted and beaten unconscious. Zamora is a well-known investigative reporter who has for many years covered organized crime and corruption cases.
  • There are four major daily papers. The government forcibly closed four community radio stations, and nine stations that were closed in 2006 remained so. Electronic media ownership is concentrated in the hands of Angel Gonzalez of Mexico, a politically connected entrepreneur who favors conservative perspectives and controls four of Guatemala’s six private television stations. In 2008, Congress passed the Law of Televised Frequencies, which prohibits the two national open-access frequencies that are not owned by Gonzalez from selling advertising to cover their expenses.
  • There are no reports of government limitations on internet usage, and the internet was accessed by about 10 percent of the population in 2008.