Guatemala Government and Media Profile

Guatemala Political Orientation

Guatemala - Left-Center Bias - Progressive - Liberal - Democratic

Guatamala Flag Country Bias


Government Type: Presidential Republic
Leader: President Bernardo Arévalo (2023)
Political Party:Movimiento Semilla
Political Position: Left-Center

Press Freedom

MBFC’s Country Freedom Rating: 48.56 (Limited Freedom)
World Press Freedom Rank:
Guatemala 127/180

Reporters Without Borders states that while the Guatemalan constitution upholds press freedom, it is often compromised by governmental and political authorities. Journalists investigating corruption and human rights may be subjected to harassment and legal challenges. Media Landscapes reports that between 2016 and 2017, 11 journalists were killed, with two fatally shot in Mazatenango’s central park after publishing against the local mayor.

Media Ownership and Government Analysis

Guatemala’s media landscape is diverse, but a few major entities hold significant influence. Prensa Libre, which billionaire Mario López Estrada partly owns, and El Periódico, owned by José Rúben Zamora, who’s been jailed since 2022, are notable newspapers. El Periódico ceased operations in early 2023. In addition to print media, Radio serves as an essential source of information, particularly in rural areas where it remains a primary means of communication.

Regarding broadcast media, Television is a key medium in Guatemala. Major channels, such as Canal 3 and Channel 7, are owned by Albavisión under Remigio Ángel González, a Mexican-American businessman nicknamed “El Fantasma.”  He has close relations with politicians in Guatemala and other countries; these channels dominate viewership with a conservative lean.

In recent years, there have been concerns about freedom of the press in Guatemala. Journalists covering sensitive topics like corruption, drug trafficking, and human rights abuses often face threats and violence. For instance, in March 2015, Danilo López, a correspondent for the national newspaper Prensa, and Federico Salazar, a reporter for Radio Nuevo Mundo, were both killed in attacks; in addition, El Periódico’s 2023 closure came after it highlighted government pressures. Furthermore, its founder, José Rúben Zamora, has been in detention since 2022 on charges including money laundering. Reuters has documented that multiple journalists from El Periódico are currently under investigation, with some of its lawyers detained.

Finally, the relationship between Guatemala’s government and the media is complex and demands significant attention. There have been reports suggesting that government advertising decisions may be used as a tool to influence media coverage. Additionally, there have been instances of journalists being harassed by state authorities.

In conclusion, Guatemala’s media landscape is diverse yet challenged. A few influential figures with political ties largely control the press and broadcast media. Journalists often face threats, especially when addressing sensitive issues, leading to concerns about government-media relations and alleged influence and harassment.

Country Rating Methodology

Last Updated on August 24, 2023 by Media Bias Fact Check

Left vs. Right Bias: How we rate the bias of media sources

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