Interview with Franz Chávez, Bolivia

Asociación Nacional de la Prensa

Founded on February 24, 1970, the Asociación Nacional de la Prensa (ANP) represents Bolivia’s main newspapers: Agencia de Noticias Fides (ANF), Correo del Sur (Sucre), El Deber (Santa Cruz), El Día (Santa Cruz), El Diario (La Paz), El Potosí (Potosí), La Palabra del Beni (Beni), La Patria (Oruro), Los Tiempos (Cochabamba), and Opinión (Cochabamba).

Franz Chávez

Franz Chávez

Executive Director

Franz Chávez is a reporter and photographer who has worked in news media for 40 years and holds university degrees in social communication, journalism, and sociology. He formed the founding teams of the newspapers La Razón (1990), La Prensa (1998), and La Prensa-Oruro (2001). He has been coordinator of the Surveillance and Monitoring Unit for Freedom of the Press and Expression in Bolivia since September 2011 and has been executive director of ANP since 2015.


What is the role of your organization, and what has been your career path in recent years?

Founded in February 1970, Bolivia’s ANP has helped position freedom of expression as a right of all citizens, and today many public figures, opinion leaders, and people in general claim this right.

In addition to defending freedom of the press and denouncing the censorship of newspapers, the ANP warned in 1970 against the suppression of freedoms in a new penal code that, under pressure from different social sectors, was finally repealed in January 2018.

The greatest challenge is to ensure that political leaders recognize freedom of expression and freedom of the press as fundamental factors in guaranteeing democracy."

Broadly speaking, what would you say is the main challenge to freedom of expression in your country?

The greatest challenge is to ensure that political leaders recognize freedom of expression and freedom of the press as fundamental factors in guaranteeing democracy. It is also a challenge to get citizens to exercise the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Political Constitution of the State (CPE).

Does this challenge extend to the world of journalism? How do journalists in your country experience it?

Journalists are experiencing a moment of panic, as they are being subjected to physical and verbal attacks when they cover conflicts, and officials are questioning their work and attacking press freedom.

All of this has led to self-censorship in journalism and, recently, after the closure of the newspaper Página Siete, there is concern about the future of print media, which is enduring a financial siege and tax persecution. Hundreds of journalists’ and press workers’ jobs are at risk from the suffocation of independent print media.

What resources do citizens have to access public information? What is this like in practice?

Bolivian citizens enjoy a constitutional declaration and supreme decree that allow them to request information of public interest from all government officials.

But citizens are not in the habit of obtaining data and information from state entities, which does not contribute to the culture of transparency.

What lessons can your national context offer to the regional struggle for freedom of expression? How do you propose to advance the regional struggle?

It is essential that citizens are aware of their rights and freedoms. Educational centers, universities, and public spaces should be constantly disseminating campaigns on these rights and freedoms.

What do you think is your organization's most important contribution to the Voces del Sur network?

The Voces del Sur network helps to raise awareness of the state of freedom of expression in all countries where a local partner documents cases affecting citizens.

The annual presentation of its Shadow Report is effective and portrays the realities of each country. It is supplemented by campaigns to denounce and raise awareness of violated freedoms and make demands.

Contact ANP

Published on August 3, 2023.

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