EspañolGuatemalan magazine ContraPoder was sued earlier this month by six members of the Renewed Democratic Liberty Party (LIDER), for publishing an article titled “False Support for Manuel Baldizón,” on March 21. Baldizón is the party’s current presidential frontrunner.
In January, the magazine published an article titled “Copy/Paste Baldizón” that accused the future presidential candidate of intellectual plagiarism. Several newspapers issued a joint statement of support for Baldizón, but ContraPoder alleged that seven of its signatories were dead. The information in the article later proved to be incorrect, and the magazine issued a retraction along with a public apology.
Initially, the suit was filed against the director of the magazine, Juan Luis Font. However, the plaintiffs have filed new charges of “misrepresentation, coercion, and threats” against the magazine itself, and are seeking 30 million quetzals (about US$3.8 million) in damages.
Reporters Without Borders has condemned the legal action against ContraPoder. Camille Soulier, head of the Office for the Americas of Reporters Without Borders, commented: “In Guatemalan law, the publication of erroneous information is punishable by law, but it is not a criminal offense. Given that the magazine corrected the article and apologized publicly, the lawsuit is clearly abusive and violates the right to inform.”
Guatemala ranks 125 of 180 countries in the World Press Freedom Index 2014 of Reporters Without Borders.