El Faro has reported abuses of power and widespread acts of corruption in different administrations, guided not by criteria of political partisanship, but based on professional ethics and rigor.
As a human rights organization with a long history of cooperation with the newspaper El Faro, we express our deepest concern over the expulsion from El Salvador of renowned Mexican journalist Daniel Lizárraga, who is part of El Faro editors' committee.
According to the resolution delivered by Salvadoran immigration authorities, the award-winning journalist Daniel Lizárraga, specialized in corruption investigations has been denied a work and residence permit for allegedly not being able to verify that he is an editor or journalist.
An argument that is unfounded, since Daniel Lizárraga´s professional career as an investigative journalist began in the 90s and he has a long professional trajectory working for media like El Universal, Radio Red and Reforma and as deputy director of Animal Politico. In addition, Lizárraga gained international recognition as a reporter and editor in the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) that revealed the dirty business of the rogue offshore finance industry, known under the name of “Panama Papers". This investigation led to the resignation of politicians involved in the scandal, the conviction of corrupt businessmen and the recovery of more than one billion euros.
Daniel Lizárraga has received several international awards and the National (Mexican) Journalism Award, for his investigations on the dark history of Odebrecht in Mexico and the Pegasus spy software used against journalists. He also stood out as a teacher in methodology of investigative journalism.
The expulsion of Daniel Lizárraga from Salvadoran territory means a new escalation in a series of attacks against El Faro and Salvadoran critical journalism. The severity of the incidents against the members of El Faro are reflected in threats of aggression or death menaces, disqualifying messages, among others; and money laundering accusations, without any proof, spread by the president on all national television channels.
Due to the seriousness of the attacks, on February 4, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) decided to grant precautionary protection measures in favor of all journalists of El Faro, ordered the Salvadoran State to adopt “measures to preserve the life and integrity “ of the 34 members of the newspaper and to report on the actions taken to investigate harassment, threats and intimidation of El Faro´s team.
The harassment of El Faro implies also an attack against all critical journalism in El Salvador and seriously damages the rule of law, violating the right to free expression and citizens´access to information. Liberal democracy depends on autonomous journalism that questions any forms of abuse of power. The fight against corruption, an explicit objective of the current administration, cannot be won without the cooperation of investigative journalism, impartial and independent of the government in office.
We hope that the State of El Salvador respects the free expression and autonomy of journalism, reconsidering its decision to expel Daniel Lizárraga and complies with its obligations to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, issuing protective measures for the El Faro newsroom and investigating harassment, threats and intimidation against its team members.
San Salvador, 8.7.2021, Regional Office for Central America, Heinrich Böll Foundation.