Chilean Minister Camila Vallejo on campus for World Press Freedom Day event

She took part in a panel about freedom of expression in Latin America organized by the Columbia Global Freedom of Expression program.

May 10, 2023

In the context of World Press Freedom Day, celebrated annually on May 3rd, the Minister Secretary General of the Chilean Government Camila Vallejo, visited Columbia University to take part in an event entitled “New and Old Challenges to Guarantee Freedom of Expression in Latin America,” organized by Columbia Global Freedom of Expression program, the UNESCO regional office in Montevideo, Uruguay, and the Latin American Observatory of Regulation, Media, and Convergence (Observacom).

With the premise that freedom of expression is the cornerstone of a democratic system, the event sought to highlight and share some of the main challenges that are being currently debated in the region in order to achieve the full exercise of this right, both in the traditional media system and on the Internet. A panel of national leaders, academics, experts and representatives of Latin American civil society organizations, exchanged experiences and reflected on the subject, as well as on recommendations and proposals for the full exercise of the right to freedom of expression in the region. They also touched based on topics such as pluralism in the media, the role of Media Ombudsmen and the regulation of digital platforms.

After opening words from Rosa María González, UNESCO Regional Advisor in Communications and Information for Latin America and the Caribbean, Minister Vallejo – who was the main presenter in the event – referred to the main lines of action that the current government is carrying out in order to secure and advance in pluralism and freedom of expression in Chile: Fostering diversity and decentralization through the promotion of public policies that encourage the development and diversification of media; protecting the rights of journalists and media workers; and combating misinformation. Vallejo stressed that the Government understands that the effective assurance of the individual and social dimensions of the right to freedom of expression necessarily contemplates the right of people to receive diverse information, and to be well informed: “And we know that the guarantee of all this implies deepening our democracy,” she stated.

Later on, the Minister reflected on the figure of the Media Ombudsmen, and while she said that no such organization exists in Chile to defend audiences, she spoke of it as a “necessary figure, so that the people who consume audiovisual services are represented and are able to present claims and complaints.”

Alongside González and Vallejo in the panel were Beatriz Solís, President of the Mexican Association of Media Ombudsmen (AMDA); Damián Loreti, Lawyer and PhD in Information Science; Brazilian journalist and Human Rights specialist from the Rights in Network Coalition (Coalizão Direitos na Rede), Bia Barbosa; Agustín Espada, Researcher at Universidad de Quilmes, Argentina; and Gustavo Gómez, Executive Director of Obervacom.  

The World Press Freedom Day 2024 conference will take place in Chile, which will coincide with the 30th anniversary of the signing of the “Declaration of Santiago of Chile on the Development of the Communication Media and Democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean.” About this appointment, Vallejo said that “It will be a unique opportunity to renew our commitment to guaranteeing these rights and deepening democracy, as well as opening challenging reflections for our region.”

The video of the event can be accessed here.