The populist wave that has swept through the world’s largest democracies has caused restrictions on the press denounced by international organizations such as Reporters Without Borders or Human Rights Watch. In countries like the United States or Brazil, where the Constitution protects freedom of the press, leaders like Donald Trump or Jair Bolsonaro They attempted to block journalists from their official events and even accused independent media professionals of being enemies of the people, a common tactic in Stalinist communist dictatorships.

Today in Spain the Presidency of the Government vetoed ABC from the media group that accompanied Pedro Sanchez during the first international trip of his new mandate, to Israel and Egypt. Sánchez, through the Secretary of State for Communication, Francesc Vallès, refused this newspaper access to the presidential plane, although he presented the required documents on time.

In recent years, Spain has fallen in the press freedom rankings established by Reporters Without Borders, until arriving where it is today: 36th place, behind countries like Portugal, the Czech Republic or Namibia. Four years ago he was ranked 29th. In 2020, Reporters Without Borders called for more transparency from the Spanish government due to its questioning system and access to the president of the government. These are complaints similar to those filed by this organization and by other organizations, such as Human Rights Watch, in the case of leaders like Trump or Bolsonaro.

This organization already affirmed in 2020 that “the restrictions imposed by the government on the free exercise of the journalistic profession began even before its creation as such, with the signing of the agreement between the PSOE and Podemos, of which only photojournalists were authorized to witness the production. .”, leaving the journalists “parked” in another room.

Restrictions in Moncloa

The Madrid Press Association (APM) and the Federation of Journalists’ Associations of Spain (FAPE) have repeatedly denounced the restrictions imposed on the press by Moncloa. In the United States, Trump attempted to limit access to the White House and its travel by journalists he considered critical or uncomfortable, but he failed thanks to the support of professional associations and the judicial system for the media and their professionals. One of the most famous cases is that of the correspondent CNN’s Jim Acostawhose accreditations were withdrawn without further explanation, which led to litigation and the rapid reinstatement of these same accreditations.

In Brazil, the presidency of the republic under Jair Bolsonaro expelled journalists from general media. The last attempt dates back to 2022, when the then president visited Rio de Janeiro for an event with evangelical clerics and, before his intervention, security agents expelled the correspondents of “Folha de S. Paulo », the main Brazilian newspaper, and the Globo television channel. .

In 2020, during a visit by Bolsonaro to Trump in Miami, the Brazilian delegation expelled Folha’s correspondent from official coverage alleging, as Sánchez now claims in the case of ABC, space limitations and logistical problems. As the directors of the media concerned in the United States and Brazil have already done, the director of ABC, Julien Quiroscommunicated its official protest to the Secretary of State for Communication (SEC), considering that the newspaper violated both its right to information and to free competition.

Under Sánchez, the government’s presidential team has significantly restricted press access to official events. During some visits by the President of the Spanish Government to the United States, for example, his team declared that most of his events would be followed by “official coverage”, that is, his team would give a summary from his meetings and press photos and videos, no questions asked.

This happened, for example, during a visit to New York and California in July 2021. Sánchez did speak to the media during a visit to a business office in Manhattan, to give some impressions, but he prohibited being recorded or quoted verbatim. These types of informal conversations, without attribution, have become more common in recent years, according to several professionals who regularly follow the president.

In the case of the United States, the White House restricts media access to the president during certain official events, such as conversations in the Oval Office or visits aboard the Air Force Eleven plane. However, the White House communicates a quota to the White House Correspondents Association and takes turns choosing those who accompany the president, ensuring that major newspapers, agencies, radio and television stations have access. continuous information. president, who often addresses the media, always under his direct authority.