Rousseff Drops Media Law amid Rising Opposition

EspañolBrazilian President Dilma Rousseff has dropped a controversial Media Law supported by her Workers’ Party (PT), which proposed greater government monitoring over the press and boosted the voice of state media.

The policy has been shelved amid a period of growing political isolation, as economic stagnation and multiple corruption scandals have seen her administration’s approval ratings drop as low as 19 percent. The  Petrobras scandal has tarred dozens of government ministers with corruption allegations, and provoked a series of  demonstrations across the country.

The head of the Social Communication Secretariat, Thomas Traumann, was subsequently forced to resign after a leaked memo written by the official suggested that the government’s media strategy was “erratic and gone awry.”

Rousseff attempted to rebuild bridges to the country’s media during the installation of Traumann’s successor, Edinho Silva, on March 31. “We must always submit to scrutiny by the populace and guard our democracy, which holds the freedom of the press as one of its principle pillars,” she said.

“Those who, like me and all of my generation, lived under a dictatorship, know the immense value of freedom of expression and of the press.  We’re committed to the right to protest, to inform, to criticize. We’re against censorship, self-censorship, [political] pressure, and undeclared lobbies and interests,” Rousseff added.

The Brazilian president also backtracked on comments made by government ministers that demonstrations on March 15 were organized by golpistas — people seeking a coup d’etat — saying that freedom of expression “is also going out to the streets, to reaffirm rights or simply to protest.”

She meanwhile signaled that Silva would manage his US$65 million annual budget to display “the most rigorous care” over public information and how state information will be broadcast.

The Media Law has been a policy of the PT for several years, but was only submitted for debate in January of this year when Communications Minister Ricardo Berzioni took up his post.

Sources: La Nación, Agencia BrasilLa Tercera. 

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