EL SALVADOR

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Journalism in El Salvador has had its ups and downs in the last six months. President Antonio Saca and most of his Cabinet are quite open to the media and willing to discuss issues, no matter how controversial. There have been some reports of delays in the release of information and problems in accessing public records. Below are the most noteworthy developments: Douglas Hernández, 26, a reporter for La Prensa Gráfica, was murdered on August 28 in the department of Santa Ana. Douglas was murdered along with three other people in what appears to be an act of common criminals. Three people were taken into custody for the murder, and it is now up to the courts to determine their guilt. On July 5, at a protest by leftist groups and alleged students at the National University, a protestor on campus took out an M-16 and fired on police officers who were trying to break up the protest. The gunman shot and killed two agents. The attack was caught on film and video by journalists, and the photographs and footage are now key evidence in the investigation. One of the suspects was arrested, but the primary shooter—a former councilman and active member of the FMLN, identified as Mario Belloso—remains at large. The ability to gain access to information from the Supreme Court is still being severely restricted. Last July, one-third of the Supreme Court was turned over, with five new justices selected to join the panel of 15. The new Supreme Court announced that only the chief justice would act as spokesman and that he would call a press conference every Thursday. However, the chief justice has not been acting as spokesman, and no such press conferences have been held. The media protested and the issue was discussed on various television stations, radio stations and newspapers, but to no avail.

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