By Carmen Rodríguez and Voz de la Diáspora collective
Journalism in El Salvador goes through one of its worst moments. The pandemic, the political crisis and the lack of laws that protect journalists are taking a high price on many who are part of the union in the country.
The Association of Journalists of El Salvador (APES), confirms that more than 40 journalists are waging the battle against the coronavirus, some continue to carry out their work despite being sick.
“The situation is worrying. In the press conferences there are no protocols, there are prevention measures by the authorities and the media companies do not cover journalists with the necessary equipment”, said to Voice of Diaspora, the president of APES, Angelica Cárcamo.
The death of photojournalist Franklin Américo Rivera was confirmed on Wednesday, because of the disease and according to the APES, Three other journalists also lost their lives to complications from the virus..
According to APES data, the increase in cases among journalists occurred two weeks after storm Amanda affected Salvadoran territory., what demanded the journalists coverage and overtime work.
“Many carried out their work without the necessary protection, they went out into the field without masks or without complying with the necessary prevention protocols”, pointed out the president of the APES.
The APES and other journalists who closely follow this problem, they assure that the union does not denounce, nor does it require protection measures for fear of losing a job or retaliation in their companies.
Positive and working
Despite being one of the most affected groups, journalists do not dare for fear of losing their jobs, to talk about what is happening or what they have to face when going out to the field to inform the population.
The fear of losing their jobs, to be stigmatized by illness or lack of support from media companies, these are some of the reasons why journalists have chosen to face their fight against COVID-19 in silence.
“They're making us work where the virus was detected. There are several colleagues who are working and the company does not want to take action. There are two positives that were still working because they had to drop the program”, said a journalist who works for one of the country's news channels, who asked to keep your identity.
According to this journalist, in the two channels that share facilities where he works “there was a massive contagion” and they fear that some of their colleagues who have other medical conditions, suffer the consequences.
Pandemic and other problems
Facing the health crisis and contagion, they are not the only problems that affect Salvadoran journalists. further, many are struggling to survive and find a way to provide for their families.
According to data from other journalists who also asked to keep their identities, due to the crisis caused by the closings of activities, some media companies owe up to three months of wages.
“Some newspapers have not paid colleagues, in others they cut wages and still others lost their jobs due to the crisis”, said the journalist.
further, many journalists do not have health insurance that allows them to opt for consultations. Some of the communicators who tested positive for COVID-19 have not had access to the country's public health system., because this is covered.
But also, there are other journalists who lost their jobs, shortly before the crisis and because there is no law for the protection of journalists that is complied with and respected, they have been seen to sticks to carry food to their families.
In the last weeks, the APES delivered 1,200 basic baskets for journalists facing a difficult situation at this time of crisis.